(This previously appeared as a guest post on a blog that’s now closed down — and since I’m traveling like WHOA over the next few months, I thought it might be appropriate to share here!)
Truthfully, I love to travel — I had the pleasure of going to Europe for my honeymoon and then again in 2011, have seen a big chunk of the United States visiting family, friends and conferences, and won’t rest until I see all 50 states!
Travel does present a few challenges, though. I love working out, and don’t feel good unless I’m sweating at least a few times a day. So, here are some of my tips and tricks for staying in shape even while on the road.
Fitness Travel Tips
1. Take a running tour!
I like to travel very light — so packing a lot of clothes, shoes, weights, etc. just isn’t an option. As long as I have one pair of running shoes, I’m good to go! Exploring the area on a run (with my GPS-enabled phone in hand…I’m notorious for getting lost) is an amazing way to not only get a workout in, but to get to know a new city.
One of the best runs I’ve ever had was in Seattle — a friend and I ran along the beach, ran up a giant set of steps, did 20 pushups then ran the rest of the way home. I took pictures at every stop and still think of that experience!
Setting out for runs and thinking of them as exploration rather than workouts really helps, too.
2. Use your body weight
Whether you’re staying at a hotel or with friends, you can almost always improvise to find some weights. But even better — try exercises that don’t need weights at all! Body weight exercises like pushups, squats and tricep dips are easy to do, and you can even use the edge of a bed or a table to assist you.
I love doing plyometrics, right when I wake up — some quick jump squats or lunges are the perfect way to get my blood flowing…without ever stepping in a gym.
3. Plan ahead
Almost every city has a list of good (and safe!) parks in the area, or special classes and events that may be happening when you’re in town. I can’t imagine anything more exciting than completing a 5K or other race in a city where you don’t live — the experience would be something truly unforgettable. If you’re not into races, you can often reach out via social media to find bloggers in the area who might be willing to give you a guest pass to their gyms or meet you for a walk.
4. Something is better than nothing
Sure, you might be used to doing 60-minute workouts at home, but that might not be an option when you’re traveling. I think that any exercise is better than no exercise, so if you need to sneak in 15 minutes, do it! I often find time early in the morning, when others are sleeping in. If I’m going to be doing a lot of walking, I might even just do some stretching or low-key yoga to warm up for the day.
5. Don’t sweat it
I know — I just gave you four tips so you DO sweat, and now I’m telling you not to? Well, truthfully…vacations and travel are for enjoyment, not for stress. So if the idea of figuring out when or how to work out has you sweating in the wrong way, just let it go. A week or two won’t derail your goals, and can often get you more motivated to work out when you get home.
You guys know what a HUGE fan of the Polar Loop I am, right? I basically never take it off, and even when it started acting up — the screen would randomly dim and the app would crash when I tried to sync things — the company sent me a replacement, no questions asked (of course, the first model was a review copy sent to me by Polar, so it’s possible that my experience is a little different).
Well, there are a TON of activity monitors on the market, and I’ve never been tempted to trade my Loop out. But I got to know the iFit team at a running event last year, and they’re good people — so when they asked me to test out their new iFit Active product, I agreed…although I warned them that I’d be putting it head-to-head with the Loop.
Here are a few cool things about the iFit Active:
- it syncs wirelessly and automatically to all iFit devices, including their amazing treadmill
- it comes with a wristband and a waistband clip, so you can wear it in multiple ways
- it includes a nutrition tracker, which allows you to track calories in/out
- it includes sleep, step and goal trackers
- it has a built-in community so you can share your progress with friends
That’s from the company itself. What do I think after a week of testing out the iFit Active?
The strap on the iFit is much easier to work with — the absolute worst feature of the Loop is that you have to cut it to size. Take off too much? You’re out of luck. The iFit is like a watch strap, so you can tighten/loosen it as much as you want. (It’s not perfect, though — I find it very awkward to tighten and then latch, and almost impossible to unhook to take it off.)
It also connected quickly and seamlessly with the iPhone app, which had a bright, easy-to-navigate display.
It comes in some cool colors (mine is black but there’s also white, coral and blue).
The nutrition features means that some of the other apps and tools you can use to track calories, etc. are no longer needed (I found it all to be too much, but I also don’t track my food!).
NOT WATERPROOF. This is such a major con, since I’ve been spoiled by the Loop. I almost trashed the iFit Active on the first day (by accident) when I started to jump in the pool without taking it off. I thought about it mid-leap and held my wrist above the water, but it was a close call.
The font on the screen is impossibly tiny to read — and while the buttons allow you to cycle through different menus, I just didn’t find it to be intuitive at all, and I got frustrated just trying to get back to the clock function.
Speaking of the clock, I noticed that on my iFit, as the battery charge got low, the time started to lag as well. Once I synced the monitor, it corrected itself, but was disconcerting to see that it was 12:30pm on my computer and only 7:45 on my iFit.
The chargers on the Loop and iFit Active are equally annoying — they’re totally proprietary to each device, so if you lose it you’re SOL.
The buzzer to notify me when I’d been sitting so long was REALLY disturbing — and until I realized that I could turn it off completely in the app settings, it woke me up several times through the first night. Yuck.
My takeaway? I’m still a Loop girl, especially because of the waterproof feature. I just spend too much time in water to have to take the monitor off so often. Plus, I have a Polar Heart Rate monitor that integrates with multiple devices. It’s simple to set up, easy to read, has only a few features but those features are AWESOME and I just think the iFit is overkill for my own needs.
But guess what? One of YOU will get to try the iFit Active for yourself! I have one to give away (U.S. shipping addresses only, please) and the entries are simple:
1) You MUST enter through the widget below.
2) You MUST follow iFit on Instagram (http://instagram.com/ifit).
3) There are bonus entries listed in the widget.
I’ll pick a random winner after midnight on August 10th.