Strong Mind / Strong Body: Fitness on the Road

To continue my fledgling Health / Fitness series entitled, “A strong mind starts with a strong body,” tonight I want to briefly touch on working out while traveling. (Speaking of traveling, I’m once again posting missives from my road trip on my travel blog.)

On June 1st I will have been on the road for 150 out of 365 days (excluding my time in Boulder). During this massive year of travel I have devised new strategies to keep fit.

First, use free weights over machines. If you lift weights regularly, you know that correct settings and positioning is key to safety. Instead of fiddling with machines you’ve never used before, just use free weights and target the same muscle groups. (Note: some machines are “standard” — a bench press is a bench press anywhere in the world.)

Second, if you have the choice, go to a real local gym over a hotel “fitness room”. Top hotels don’t skimp, but most do.

Third, if you want to go for a run outside, know your way. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re going to explore a city’s geography and then getting lost. Have a map. Or better yet, follow Chris Sacca’s advice and get Garmin GPS device. I haven’t used it, but I hear good things. Although I favor a gym to outdoor running, an urban city run — especially overseas — can be magical if you know your way. I had a great run along a lake in Rome and through grass fields in Dresden, Germany.

Fourth, don’t forget pushups and crunches. Two simple exercises which can take you a long way. Rob Urstein also recommends RipCords and jump rope as easy, portable exercise tools to bring with you.

Fifth, focus on cardio. After long plane or car travel you need to get the blood moving. If you must turn a 1.5 hour routine into 45 minutes, cut back on the beach muscles and just focus on the heart rate.

Sixth, value a free hotel breakfast. I always try to book hotels that offer a free breakfast. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a breakfast joint at the start of the day. (I won’t even consider the possibility of you skipping breakfast given the evidence in support of the meal!)

Any other tips for staying fit on the road?

5 comments on “Strong Mind / Strong Body: Fitness on the Road
  • When free weights are not accessible, the use of full water bottles as substitute is well-known. But even better is the use of stress bands (Thera-bands) that you can pack in your bags so you are never without them. Also useful to post-exercise aided stretching.

    If no gym or safe outdoor is available for running, a ‘circuit’ combining step-ups (can improvise with thick books like directories in hotel rooms), dips (use a steady chair), crunches, push-ups (the floor is always handy!) can be a good substitute.

    Good post.

  • A killer yoga practice, Vinyasa, Power, Ashtanga or your flavor here, can be done anywhere, anytime with little to no equipment. Keeps body and mind fit,and undoes a lot of the physical damaged that traveling does. Also stay hydrated beyond belief and bring healthy things to snack on.

  • hehe… I used to be really good at working out when on the road… and then the road became life and I got lazy…. but now, I find myself in Provence with a 20 year old sprite- fitness instructor from Boulder– and she has been workin’ me!! I find her approach marvelous. She goes to the common room of the hostel and practically begs people to work out with her— it is quite nice to have a fitness partner in crime. I am thinking of adopting her methods of rounding up team-hostel-fitness members…

    Good luck with the road & fitness!


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