Wondering how to stay fit during the Holidays, especially if you travel? Then THIS is for you. I’ll cover some tips and strategies that aren’t super obvious, as well as, 3 major mistakes to avoid to ensure that you actually stay active. I’m trying to give you these suggestions in a way that you haven’t heard them before, so it’s not just a boring “well duh” type of blog.
All of these tips and strategies are based on personal experience. I travel for the Holidays every year, and there hasn’t been one year where I haven’t been consistent with my workouts. I should also say that I have a family who is very understanding of my fitness habits, so they don’t get mad at me if I go off for 30-60 minutes and do my thing.
But, I do find there are certain practices that help you be consistent without cutting too much into your family time. These are the strategies that I’ve developed, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. I’ll cover:
- Why It’s Important to Exercise The FIRST Morning You Start Vacation
- Plan Your Vacation Workouts In Advance to Stay Consistent
- Same Time, Same Place
- How to Use Your Vacation Environment As Motivation to Workout
- Why You Should Invite Your Family To Join (Even If They Won’t)
- What Exercise Equipment Should You Bring to Your Vacation Spot?
- 4 Major Mistakes to Avoid
It’s Important to Exercise The FIRST Morning You Start Vacation
Being on vacation means you’re breaking your normal habits, your normal routine, and most importantly your workout schedule. To really lock in your workouts even outside of the normal environment, you have to exercise the FIRST morning you start vacation.
This sets up new habits in your new environment. If you do a workout first thing in the morning in your new environment, you’ll be more likely to do it every day after that. On the other hand, if you don’t do a workout the first day, you’re less likely to do it.
Plan Your Vacation Workouts In Advance to Stay Consistent
Planning ahead makes it easier to be more consistent with your workouts, because you know what workouts you’re going to do. You can type up a plan on your phone as you’re getting to your vacation spot (as long as you’re not in the driver’s seat).
Of course, vacations can be wild times and spontaneous plans might arise, but once you have a better idea of your availability you can make revisions accordingly. Remember, it’s always best to start off with some sort of plan and revise from there, rather than going in without a plan at all.
Same Time, Same Place
One of the most important factors is picking a time you’ll be able to stick with. For me, I think the best time is the mornings before everything gets started. Try to exercise at the same time EVERY day. This is the easiest and most proven way to make it consistent.
Along with that, try to repeat the behavior in the exact location/environment, whether your lifting weights, practicing yoga on the patio, or going for a hike – repeat it!
Habit science teaches us that behaviors are more likely to be repeated if they happen in the same place. If you exercise in your bedroom the first day, you’re more likely to be consistent and exercise the second day if you workout again in your bedroom. So, as much as you can, do the workout in the same area.
How to Use Your Vacation Environment As Motivation to Workout
This advice might not work for everybody, but it’s a guiding principle for me. New places usually mean new things to do and new places to go to. Use this to your advantage for workout motivation.
For example, my parents’ building has a weight room, which I don’t normally have access to. My grandparents live in a rural area that has hiking trails nearby, so I plan on going hiking when I’m there. And this year, we’re all going to be staying at an Airbnb with a little exercise room, so I’ll look forward to using that.
Basically, you want to ask yourself – is there something about the place you’re going that makes you feel like working out? What makes you excited?
There could be a nice view worth hiking to. There could be an exercise room with equipment you don’t normally have access to. If you’re somewhere new, that means you have access to different things. Is there a particular piece of equipment or setting that you don’t normally have access to, that you would like to incorporate into a workout?
Figure out what’s going to make you motivated in your new environment, and then use that to make sure you actually do your workout!!
Why You Should Invite Your Family To Join (Even If They Won’t)
Why should you invite your family to exercise with you? Well, chances are high that somebody in the family is going to get mad at you if you’re noticeably absent.
The easy solution?
Get the family involved. My family is pretty understanding of my fitness habit, but they’re even more understanding when I involve them in a group workout. Inviting your family to workout with you has nearly no downside, whatever their answer it will work out well for you.
If they do decide to join you, you have an opportunity to establish a new holiday tradition with your family, one that’s actually healthy. And if they don’t want to join you, then you’ve just bought yourself a pass to exercise on your own, guilt-free. They won’t be as mad at you if you had just gone off on your own and done a workout without telling them.
What Exercise Equipment Should You Bring to Your Vacation Spot?
You want to make sure that you don’t bring too much equipment. It’s a pain to carry it all, and the more you have, the less likely you actually are to use it. You also want to consider that there might be equipment where you’re going. Either way, I would recommend that you make sure you have access to at least 2 of the 3 of the following:
- Resistance Bands – Aside from yoga equipment, I would highly recommend bringing exercise bands of some sort. Not only are these important for keeping your shoulders healthy, but I find that even more so while you’re traveling your posture becomes worse. So it’s good to make sure you have bands, which make it easy to practice strength-based pulling exercises which restore posture, get rid of pain in your shoulders, and help balance bodyweight-only exercises. It’s pretty easy to find something to hook your bands to – even if you have to get a little creative. Keep in mind, you can always shut them in a door if you run out of ideas.
- Lacrosse Ball Or Tennis Ball – This is another tiny piece of equipment that’s highly useful. If you’re traveling, you most likely ended up sitting or inactive for a long time, and that means you’re going to have some muscle knots to deal with. A lacrosse ball or tennis ball is fantastic for getting rid of those and making sure that you can exercise safely. You can even use them while sitting around and watching TV.
- Yoga Mat – Personally, I try to bring a yoga mat. But that’s because I’m the yoga guy. You can easily get by with a towel, a rug, or a hardwood floor. Use a carpet for poses where you need to put your knees down. Find objects wherever you’re staying to substitute for a block, and you can use a sturdy t-shirt or a belt for a strap.
I can’t stress enough, don’t worry too much about not having weights and or your regular equipment & gym access.
If you’re a weight lifter, your number one fear is missing out on gains. But unless you’re Dwayne The Rock Johnson, a week off probably isn’t going to set you back that much. Think of it as an opportunity to do workouts you don’t normally do.
Your body gets stronger when you do new things and get new stimuli. So find something else that intrigues you, and do that for a few days. Chances are that it will actually help you get better at your other workouts. And during that time away from the gym, you can work on other aspects of your fitness that might not get as much attention.
Here’s what you can focus on instead:
- Mobility – Do some restorative workouts. Take care of your joints. You can get back to strength training when you get home, but for now, don’t worry too much about it. A good strength and mobility-focused yoga routine will keep your muscles sore, active, and you’ll actually get better at your gym workouts because of it.
- Muscle Activation Training – Do your glutes fire properly during a squat? Are you properly using your upper-back and shoulders during an overhead lift? Is your core doing what it’s supposed to, and preventing your low-back from getting sore or uncomfortable during/after workouts? And are all your hip muscles firing? If the answer is no to any of these questions, there’s a great opportunity for you to work on your muscle activation. The Strength Foundations Course is awesome for that, and if you’re not already a Member, you can get Phase 1 of that program – a total of 5 workouts – for Free. Check it out right HERE.
4 Major Mistakes to Avoid
To really highlight the mistakes you can make when you’re trying to stay fit on vacation, here are my big 4 major points.
- Don’t travel with too much equipment
- It’s a pain in the ass to travel with more stuff.
- You probably won’t use it all.
- More choices leads to lower compliance, meaning the more exercise equipment you bring, the lower likelihood that you’ll end up deciding on something and actually using it.
- Don’t not have a plan.
- Don’t just disappear (but if you do have to disappear, do it in the morning).
- Don’t set high expectations.
- You’re probably not going to have as much free time as you’d like.
- You’re not going to be as motivated as you think you are.
- Something is going to come up.
- So just go into it knowing that you can work out, but that you’re probably not going to do everything you want to do because… family.
Lastly, The Most Important Tip – DON’T BE EMBARRASSED ABOUT WORKING OUT.
I hope these tips were helpful, and I want to thank you for reading this blog!
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About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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