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The Vacation Workout: 5 Ways To Stay Fit While Traveling

Travel blogs are always quick to proclaim travel allows you to expand your horizons and broaden your mind, but what they fail to communicate is travel also allows you to expand your waistline and broaden your muffin top.

I'd like to think my year of traveling has been a lot like that best-selling book and resulting sh*tty Julia Roberts movie, “Eat Pray Love.”

But maybe, it's a bit more like “Eat Drink Eat.”

Okay, actually, there's been some praying and loving along the way, too (like praying we got to Tek Sen in time for the twice-cooked pork belly, or loving BYOB at Hutong Dumpling Bar).

For the most part though, this year has been less about discovering me as it has been about discovering meals.

I can't tell you how many times travel companions and I are like the vultures in “The Jungle Book,” trying to figure out what to do if neither of us is hungry, or if 10 am is not quite an acceptable time to start drinking in a predominately Muslim country.

Without a set routine or constant access to a kitchen or gym, sticking to a healthy-ish diet and exercise plan while traveling can be harder than turning down free food in the break room.

(Can a coworker hurry up and quit so a girl can get some free sheet cake already?)

With the southern hemisphere's summer fast approaching, I've compiled a list of workout ideas to keep your vagabonding body banging no matter where you are.

Once a personal trainer in a former college lifetime, I'm currently working as a server.

So, instead of encouraging healthy habits among my clients, I'm now coercing them into a second basket of fried chicken and fries.

Take my suggestions with a grain of salt (or MSG, the table seasoning of choice in Asia).

I'm not over here trying to get ripped, though.

Rather, I'll simply equalize my chili cheese fries and cancel out my takeout because like a good cocktail, life is all about balance.

1. Free Week Gym Trials

Who doesn't love free sh*t?

Like free samples at Costco, free hotel bathrobes, shampoos, free Moe's burritos on your birthday (I've had like three birthdays last year) and free vodka soda from the balding bank branch manager who has a 0 percent chance of getting your real number, free workouts are no different.

Gyms always offer free trials or free workout classes to get you into the club, and I always take full advantage.

I think I've inspected and sweated in every gym in Melbourne.

Just be sure to give the gym a fake number.

Otherwise, the owners will hunt you down like that guy who bought you the free vodka soda.


2. Pounding The Pavement

One of the first things I like to do after long travel days is go for a run to stretch my legs and realign my lumbar discs after 10 hours on a budget flight in economy class.

Running is one of the best ways to explore the area and get your bearings straight.

But don't get too crazy off the beaten path, or you'll end up lost among water buffalo off the Red River Delta in Ninh Bình, Vietnam.

Before you lace up the Asics though, make sure to write down or commit to memory your hostel's (or hotel's, if you're fancy) address.

Bring enough money with you in case you get lost and need taxi fare, or better yet, get three blocks into your run and say “screw it” and get a beer.


3. Swimming Laps (Or Just Staying Afloat)

Whether I'm swimming in a pool, ocean, lake or bottle of sauv blanc, swimming is one of my favorite workouts.

I always pack my goggles when I travel, and I often throw my sexy one-piece Speedo in the suitcase if there's room.

In this tantalizing attire, even though I feel sleek and agile underwater, I'm sure I look a bit more like this pool pug IRL.

You don't have to go full on Phelps to burn off an extra Bintang beer or two.

Even if you're just freestyling to work on your back tan or only swimming to the swim-up bar, aim for any water aerobics.

Or at least tread water with your Mai Tai, and maybe you'll at least break even.

If you are at a beach destination, try water activities to get swole in the swell by surfing or renting paddle boards, kayaks or snorkels.

Do snorkels work for funneling beer, too?


4. Biking

Biking is one of those simple joys I always forget how much I enjoy until I'm back on the bike, pushing pedals and praying I don't get mowed over by a moped in Ho Chi Minh City.

Bike rental shops are usually easy to come by in most tourist destinations.

Just be sure to opt for a helmet, map out your route and get home by dark before you get lost in incoming traffic on the streets of Southeast Asia.

Check yourself (and which side of the road traffic flows) before you wreck yourself and break someone's Mercedes.


5. Body Weight Workouts

Don't you hate when you're traveling, and you forget to pack essential things like mouthwash, your bow flex machine, portable doorway chin-up bar and 10-pound kettle bells?

Luckily, Fireball shots are a great alternative to mouthwash, and body weight exercises are a great alternative to the gym.

Sure, locals (and the French backpackers who never work out but eat baguettes for breakfast and smoke 20 rollies a day) might throw shade at you for doing burpees in the hostel.

But at least you'll be bikini ready for Bondi Beach.

Here are a couple of workouts you can do almost anywhere, hangover and space permitting:

The Hostel Heart Rate Riser

1. 10 to one rep ladder for rounds (Do 10 reps for the first round, then nine, eight and all the way down to one)

2. Jump squats

3. Tricep push-ups

4. Burpees

5. V sit-ups

Four Rounds For Around The World

1. 30 squats

2. 20 burpees

3. 10 push-ups

(Modify push-ups as needed, with lay-down push-ups as rounds go on.)

Backpacker Booty-Build

1. 50 jumping jacks

2. 20 hip bridges

3. 15 jump squats

4. Fire hydrants (15 each leg)

5. Donkey kicks (15 each leg)

Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of the the exercises below:

1. 15 squats

2. 15 push-ups

3. 15 mountain climbers on each leg

4. 15 bicycle crunches on each leg

Make use of “equipment” at local parks as well, like benches for elevated push-ups and tricep dips, monkey bars for pull-ups and leg raises or elevated surfaces for step-ups or plyometric box jumps.

Just heed caution with these and aim to do them at the beginning of your workout, before your legs are fatigued and you fall and scar your shin like an assh*le (or like me).

If all else fails, and you're just not feeling fitness on your trip, at least put on your activewear and go for an exploratory, happy, hour-long walk that ends at a local, happy hour bar.

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Leah Bishop

Contributor

Leah spent 5 football seasons at University of Georgia and majored in PR. After working in the world of professional sports, her current profession is making a sport of out of traveling the world. Follow this ATLiens' adventures at southernplay ...
Leah spent 5 football seasons at University of Georgia and majored in PR. After working in the world of professional sports, her current profession is making a sport of out of traveling the world. Follow this ATLiens' adventures at southernplay ...

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