Travel and exercise: My top 5 go to exercises to do on the road!
As many of you know, I travel a lot for work. When I’m home, it’s SO much easier to set up a routine for exercising. Like many people I’m sure, I find when I’m home I’m a creature of habit. I have a pretty consistent schedule, I wake up around the same time every day, I go for a run before work, I go to boxing class after work….all these things fit into a pretty specific time table and I can rely on that to keep me consistent thoughout the week.
However, when I’m on the road, everything feels different. My schedule tends to be a little more all over the place, I’m most likely jet lagged (even a small time zone change gets to me and my sleeping patterns get altered. It doesn’t have to be a huge trip overseas to mess with my sleeping schedule!), and unfamiliar surroundings can make me feel like I’m not sure where to go if I want to go for a run or do some outdoor exercise.
What I’ve learned over the last few years is that you can keep it simple! There are tons of exercises you can do without equipment, and you don’t need a gym membership in every city you visit to get in a good work out.
I’ve whittled it down to my top five, so here are my go to’s when I exercise on the road!
1. Jumping rope
Ok, so this one involves equipment, but the best part about this lil’ guy is that jump ropes are cheap, lightweight, and they hardly take up any space in your suitcase! It’s the perfect thing to bring along on any trip you may be taking, be it for work or vacation.
I love jumping rope. Like many of you, I’m sure the last time you touched a jump rope was in grade school. I didn’t start jumping roping again until about 7 months ago when I started taking boxing classes at The New Orleans Boxing Club. It’s the perfect tool to work on your endurance! I found that when I first started jumping again, in the beginning I felt like a total beginner, but after a few go’s, it was like riding a bicycle and I got better in no time.
I definitely got this from going to the boxing gym, but my favorite way to jump is to set my timer for 3 minute intervals, and take 30 second breaks between each round. Doing this for three or four sets is a great way to get your heart rate up, and that can be your quick exercise for the day, or a great start before doing a longer routine!
Playing around with your footwork also keeps this exercise super interesting, and it challenges your coordination skills, which is great for your body and brain!
Planks are great! I can’t believe I’m saying that, but I’ve really grown to like doing planks. There are so many variations on this simple exercise, so you can switch it up to keep things interesting! And there is no excuse…you can do these ANYWHERE!
My standard go to is the elbow plank. You don’t have to involve your wrists (which can be a problem joint for many people), and you can really focus on pulling in your core, as well as keeping your glutes and legs engaged.
These are a few of my favorite variations to the elbow plank:
~ The rainbow plank: This is awesome for your obliques! Start in your regular plank position, and then take your hips and drop them to one side. You’re going to repeat this and rotate your hips to the other side, sort of creating the shape of a rainbow! Do this on repeat and keep your abs engaged. I promise you’ll start to feel your obliques working in no time!
~The side step plank: Just to make your regular plank a little harder! Starting in your regular plank position, take your right foot and bring it out to the side, tapping your toe to the ground, and then returning to your beginning position. Repeat this on the other side, taking your left foot out to the side, tapping your toe, and bringing it back into place. I usually do this for a minute, rest for 30 seconds, and start again on my next round.
~The side plank: Just as it sounds! Start with you right arm bent directly underneath your shoulder with your forearm laying on the floor. Your legs should be straight and in line with the rest of your body. You can either stack your feet, or you can put one foot in front of the other (this is generally what I do, I find it gives me a little more stability.) I also tend to hold my free hand in the air in a straight line toward the ceiling, but you can also rest it on your hip. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side!
~The side plank with a dip: Same as above, but you are going to drop your hip to the ground and bring it back up to your starting position, making sure you're keeping your core tight all the way through. Do this motion repeatedly for 30 seconds, and then do the same thing on the other side. This one also hits those obliques…a little more challenging than the standard side plank, but it’s worth it!
Yes! Go for a run! All you need to pack in your suitcase is a pair of running shoes and you’re good to go! If you are staying in a hotel, you probably will have access to a small gym and you can use a treadmill if that’s your thing. I’ve definitely done that before, but I much prefer running outdoors to running in one spot in a gym, so I try to find some routes I can take near wherever I’m staying.
If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to go, you can pre map your route online first! I usually go to www.onthegomap.com and see what roads are around me, I’ll decide how far I feel like running, and pick a route from there! I love running outside when I’m traveling…I get inspired by the new surroundings and I always find that I run way further than when I’m on my regular course at home.
Who doesn’t like squats! Ok, while these were my nemesis when I first started exercising a few years ago, like with most things, they got better over time.
It’s important to have good form when doing your basic squat, so to begin with, make sure your feet are a little wider than shoulder width apart. From there, you want to make sure you are keeping your back neutral, so make sure not to arch your back and look at the floor, as well as making sure not to over extend and arch your back backwards, where you’re pushing your belly forward, and in turn adding pressure to your lower back. Not good! I find it helps to find a spot in front of me to focus on, and keep my gaze on that same spot the entire time I’m doing squats. This helps me keep my head up, and my posture more on point! There are many ways you can hold your hands during a squat. I tend to keep my hands in front of me, one hand in a fist, and the other hand resting on top. Play around with different options, and pick the one that works best for you!
When going into your squat, make sure you think about bringing your hips down and back, so that you keep your knees in line over your feet, instead of straight down, where your knees will be in front of your feet. We want to protect those knees, so keeping them directly over your feet will put the least amount of stress on those joints.
I tend to do reps of 20, with a short 10 second rest in between.
Another good option is just doing a squat hold, where you squat down in this same position and hold it for 30 seconds, come up and rest for 10 seconds, then repeat.
One last variation I like is the squat jump. It’s high energy and tiring, but that’s how you know it’s working! Start in your regular squat position and push yourself up into a jump, and then come back down to your squat position (making sure to land softly every time you come back down to the ground). Just like above, I like to do reps of 20, with a short 10 second break in between each set.
5. Jumping jacks
The old standard, but they are tried and true! I love jumping jacks. They get your heart rate up right from the get go, and it also works out your entire body. Can’t beat that! While these can be a great warm up before a bigger workout, you can do a long session of just jumping jacks and get a super high intensity work out!
This classic exercise is fundamentally very simple. Start standing with your hands at your side. Jump both your feet out so they are a little wider than shoulder width apart, raising your arms above your head at the same time. Bring your arms back down to your side when you jump your feet back together. As with all jumping exercises, be careful in your landing. We want to make sure that we aren’t striking the ground, but instead landing softly with a slight bend in the knee to protect our joints.
My standard go to is 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off. Doing this for 10 minutes is a very challenging workout! Of course, work your way up to this and you’ll be killing the 10 minute set in no time. Start with 5 minutes, see if you can get up to 7 your next go around, and eventually you’ll be doing 10 minutes! You’re calves will thank you in the long run! This is also a great way to a happy, healthy heart.
I hope you find this list helpful when you’re planning your next getaway and you need some ideas on ways to stay active! And of course, these are great go to’s for your home life as well, as they don’t require much more than a little motivation to get up off the couch for 10 to 15 minutes! We all have 10 minutes somewhere in our day to squeeze one of these little guys in, so take that time for yourself and kill it! I know you’ve got this, and I’ll be here rooting for you!