Don’t sweat it if you’re going to be on the road this holiday season with no gym in sight. You can turn your hotel room into an impromptu exercise center and stay fit instead of getting fat.
"Some of the best workouts you can do don’t need any equipment," said Matt Jarvis, a personal trainer for Fitness for Life in Mesa. "Body weight exercises require a lot more coordination and stimulate more muscle fibers to do the work. Squats, lunges, pushups and dips work a number of different muscle groups and give you a great full-body workout."
In a study by Lieberman Research Worldwide for Westin Hotels & Resorts, 50 percent of travelers said they work out in their hotel rooms on occasion. By incorporating the bed, floor, chair and desk into an exercise routine, it’s possible to get a great workout without leaving the privacy of your room.
"A lot of times, people arrive too late or have to leave too early to go to the hotel gym," said Steve Heller, fitness director at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Phoenix. "Other people don’t feel comfortable in workout clothes and may feel like someone’s judging them in a public gym. Their private room is a great alternative."
Heller suggests travelers bring an exercise video from home or rent one from the hotel. Westin Resorts has recently teamed up with Reebok to design "The Heavenly Bed Workout," a yoga- and Pilates-inspired regimen that is literally done in bed. The inroom video workout is shown on the hotels’ custom TV channel.
If a video workout isn’t your thing, buy elastic exercise bands that are easy to pack. The bands are available in varying degrees of resistance. Most sporting goods stores sell elastic bands and other exercise equipment made specifically for travel.
"One of the best things you can do is find someone who knows what they’re doing and have him or her create a little workout program for you before you get to the hotel room," Heller said. "By doing that, you can try it at home and you’ll be more comfortable following a familiar program when you’re on the road."
Still, it’s best to be ready to improvise.
"You should be ready to utilize everything and anything that’s accessible to you," Heller said. "You may have to use a phone book to give you something for weight resistance exercise. Be creative in your room. You can look at at anything and find value in it as an exercise tool."
The most important thing to remember is you have to keep your heart rate up for at least 20 to 30 minutes to get maximum benefit.
"It can’t be like you do some dips, then talk on the phone or order room service, then go back and do another exercise," Heller said. "It has to be one continuous program that keeps your heart rate up the whole time."
To avoid distractions, turn the TV off (unless you’re exercising to a workout video), take the phone off the hook, hang a "do not disturb" sign on the door and tell traveling companions that you need a half-hour to exercise.
"The biggest obstacle you’ll have to overcome is the same obstacle you’ll have anywhere: Getting started," Jarvis said. "But once you get started and those endorphins start charging through the body and you start feeling good, your body will be a lot more willing to work out. Even if you’re in a hotel room."
5 rules for exercise and travel
Plan. Try to find a hotel with a gym and bring workout clothes with you. The more obstacles you put in front of yourself, the less likely you will be to work out.
Keep to your routine as much as possible. If you get up and read the newspaper with a cup of coffee in the morning at home, do the same thing on the road. If you work out every day after work, work out at the same time when you travel. The reason most people skip exercise when they travel is because they are out of their routine.
Don’t make excuses. If you are staying somewhere without a gym, or where the gym fees are too expensive, improvise. Some of the best workouts can be done with little or no equipment.
Make it short. Time is limited when you travel, so don’t make unrealistic goals. A lot can be accomplished in 30 minutes and some working out is better than none.
Involve as many people as you can. If you are visiting family and friends, have them exercise with you. The more people that can hold you accountable to exercise, the better chance you have of doing it.
Source: Matt Jarvis, Fitness for Life in Mesa