A Simple Fitness Plan for Travelers

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.” ~A.A. Milne

I’m on a two week vacation on the East Coast of Canada with my wife and son.  It’s a spontaneous trip we decided to take at the last minute.  I’m also in the midst of training for my third Ironman USA race and this vacation didn’t factor well into my training plans.  But that doesn’t mean I have to throw my training out the window.

I’ve been lucky to train with other athletes who travel regularly for work and haven’t let it negatively affect their training.  I’ve learned a lot from them.  When you consider that you can run almost anywhere in the world, and you can perform some of the most beneficial exercises a personal trainer can throw at you using only your body weight, then there really is no excuse for skipping a training session.

I had planned to write a post with tips and tricks for training on the road, but my friend Leo Babauta from Zen Habits beat me to it on his recent trip to England and France.  With Leo’s permission I am sharing his post with you below.  I had the good fortune to meet and train with Leo in San Francisco earlier this year.  In recent years he has made an inspiring transformation from an out of shape and overweight smoker to a person who lives and breathes a healthy lifestyle.  I encourage you to check out Zen Habits and Leo’s books.


A Simple Fitness Plan for Travelers

by Leo Babauta

I’m on vacation in London right now, and will be in Paris this afternoon — a three-week trip that has messed up all my fitness routines.

And yet I’m still getting fitter every day.

Vacations have a horrible way of messing up our routines — we eat a ton of rich food, are too busy to go to the gym, and it’s easy to let workouts fall to the wayside.

That said, I have no intention of letting travel beat me. I can be fit anywhere. I’ll share some of my tips here, in hopes of helping fellow travelers.

Walk, walk, and walk. I never rent a car when we travel. Eva and I walk everywhere, taking the occasional subway train. We’ve covered an amazing amount of ground in London — walking is the best way to see a city. We’ve walked for hours and hours every day, mixing the meandering, lazy stroll with a hard paced walk. Walking is one of the best exercises ever.

Bodyweight is the right weight. I’m a huge fan of bodyweight exercises, and on the road, they’re the best thing. In our little apartment, I wake up and do short bursts of bodyweight exercises as I get going for the day, before we head out to see the sights. I like to mix it up, but some of my favorites: pushups, squats, lunges, pullups, burpees, planks, jump squats, and shadow boxing.

Runs are wonderful. I haven’t run much here in London but when I have, it’s beautiful. I love early morning runs when Eva is sleeping and the city is just waking. They don’t have to be long — just a couple miles of fast-paced tempo running is good. Or a casual jog along the river and across gorgeous bridges.

Eat vegetarian. It’s easy to eat badly when you travel. I tend to seek out vegetarian/vegan restaurants, and London has been no exception. Of course vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, but I find that it’s usually healthier than the fat-laden fried meats and sugary carbs most people tend to eat while traveling. It’s also delicious — we’ve had some amazing vegetarian meals (Saf, Zilli Green, Mildred’s, Vanilla Black).

Eat in moderation. No need to stuff yourself. Eat delicious foods, but in reasonable portions. Eat them slowly, savor them, and then head out to walk off the calories. I tend to skip drinks with calories, except for red wines. I eat dessert but just a few bites, slowly.

Use the city as a playground. Londoners seem to find it weird when I sprint up a long flight of stairs coming out of the underground, or up the long spiral of stairs to the top of the Monument (I did these stairs twice just for fun). Jump on top of things. Sprint when you feel like it. Skip and hop. Ignore the funny looks.

This simple plan, by the way, works in everyday life as well … whether you’re traveling or not.


Photo credit:  cszar

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