Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I don’t think there is a single soul out there who doesn’t love taking a vacation. If there is one out there, well, let’s just say they must be a truly sick individual. We all need time to refresh and recover after long stints of non-stop work and routine.
However, there are some of us out there who experience anxiety when preparing for vacation. While we are excited to take a break, a two- or three-week period away from the gym strikes a chord of fear in our hearts. Unless you are super organized and plan out your training periods to accommodate your vacation plans, you will be looking for ways to maintain your fitness level or training program while you are on vacation.
Fortunately, in this day and age, there are many ways to confront this dilemma. Nowadays, even the smallest towns have options. My recent 2 week trip to NYC and New Fairfield, Connecticut, cemented this notion for me. While I may not have progressed at all during this trip, I do feel that I managed to maintain my condition with a minimum of effort – and I was still able to thoroughly enjoy my vacation!
Here are my tips to survive your vacation and return back home in good spirits and GREAT shape!
1. GET YOUR GYM ON
The first thing you should do when you are planning your vacation is scope out the area for gym options. If you are staying at a hotel you might have access to a “gym”, but a treadmill and stationary bicycle are not exactly what I call decent options. Therefore, you should scope out some gyms nearby and check out their policies. Often gyms will give you a day pass without any hassle. During my recent trip to the NY area I spent a week at my parents’ house in a small town in Connecticut. There just so happens to be a gym in the center of town (about 5 mins drive from the house), which I found to be surprisingly well-equipped. The gentleman at the desk offered me a week-long free pass without asking any uncomfortable questions (like, ahem, do you LIVE here??). My backup plan in this situation was to ask how much it would cost to train at the gym for the week, because I didn’t want to lie. However, if you are in a larger city, like NYC, you can find plenty of free-pass options without a problem. You should be prepared to fill out a form with a viable address, but you can also try putting your foreign or out-of-town address and claim you will be moving to town shortly. If it is a big chain, they probably won’t ask too many questions! Now, I am not suggesting you go out there and con these gyms into letting you use their facilities..well, maybe I am, a little. You gotta do what you gotta do, am I right?
2. CLASS PASS
Now, more than ever, there are a ton of boutique fitness operations that offer single-pass or subscription classes. If you are on vacation, you can just buy a single-class pass and call it a day. Usually these classes range from $15-$50 a session. Obviously there are a ton of these options in NYC – you could literally find a class for ANY discipline you are interested in, even tonsil hockey. Well, maybe you would be better off hitting up a bar for that. I would imagine that you could at least find a yoga and an HIIT option in most places. My recent trip to NYC took me to TONE HOUSE, an uber cool fitness enthusiast’s dream, with super hardcore workouts and dimmed lighting that makes everybody look like the guys in those Men’s Fitness Magazine videos. For $40 and change (gulp), you can get your ass kicked by some of the baddest instructors in NYC, including my pal and the baddest of them all, Greg James. I also found my way to CROW HILL CROSSFIT, just two blocks away from where I was staying in Brooklyn, which fortuitously partners with the MURDER OF CROWS BARBELL CLUB. For just $25, I was able to purchase an open-gym day pass and got to stay as long as I liked. THERE IS A GOD. The Crossfit Gym next door also offered day passes, as well as free trial classes for beginners. The moral of this story is that there are a lot of options out there, if you are willing to look for them.
3. GOT FRIENDS?
With the whole world at our fingertips, we are more connected to each other than ever! You most likely know someone or someone who knows someone who lives around your vacation spot. Put out a post on your social media pages asking for tips and advice. You would be surprised how effective this can be. Before I left for New York, I made sure to ask my friends about their favorite NYC vegan spots. I got loads of responses, some from acquaintances that I hardly ever interact with. I also checked in with a friend of mine who gives a PUNK ROPE class in Brooklyn, to see about getting a free pass. And get one, I did. I may have eaten one too many donuts before class which made jumping rather uncomfortable, but I digress. If you have friends who are also gym enthusiasts living in the area, kill two birds with one stone and meet up with them for a workout date. You get your workout in while catching up. How good is that? Though you may come up short, it definitely does not hurt to ask around.
4. OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND
If you are going on vacation in paradise, the last thing you want to do is spend your precious time in a dank, dark gym. If you are motivated enough, you will find the time to get your workout on in the great outdoors. The PROS of working out outdoors are that you have a lot more control over how much time you spend working out (as opposed to a class with a specific duration) and you don’t NEED any equipment. I like to carry around a jump rope and some resistance bands just for kicks, though. Working out in a new place can also provide ripe grounds for making friends. I had a great conversation with a 10-year old black-belt ninja whose uncle is a vampire, which makes his teeth grow when he is angry. Those kinds of experiences are priceless! As far as CONS go, one giant one is that you might slack off. Lack of external pressure can make you very lazy. You also likely won’t be able to work with heavy resistance, unless you find some grandmas to carry around. That last bit is probably only concerning for my strength athletes out there, but I find that by sticking to the classics (pull ups, push ups, bodyweight squats, etc.), you can get a decent work out in, notwithstanding. Find a park or a playground with some monkey bars and you are good to go. You can switch things up by focusing on an overlooked aspect of your training, such as cardio, HIIT or mobility (like yoga), for the duration of your vacation. Though your opportunities may be limited and not what you are accustomed to, the overall goal should be to maintain fitness, by any means necessary. If there is no gym nearby, you are better off getting in a bodyweight workout than sitting on your ass sulking. And finally, keep in mind that the focus of going on vacation should be enjoying yourself and exploring your surroundings. A bodyweight HIIT in the park is the perfect way to get a quick, effective workout on without having to spend hours in the gym.
With just a little bit of planning, you can stay fit and strong no matter where you are. Forget about making excuses. If you really want to maintain your fitness while on an extended vacation, you will make it happen. These hacks can help – use them!
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