The worst downside of a business trip isn’t the flight delay or the jetlag. It’s not that unfamiliar wake-up in a strange bed in a strange city. The worst downside of a business trip is the interruption of your exercise routine, one that could potentially undo all the good you’ve been doing over the past several months with each and every workout.
Here’s how I make sure I don’t fall off the workout and exercise wagon when I travel. And let’s face it – I fly close to a quarter million miles a year: If I can keep up my routine, anyone can.
- Never ever travel without workout gear. That’s it. I keep a duplicate pair of sneakers in my bag, and they never come out. When I do get home, I immediately throw all my workout gear into the washing machine, and replace them with the same number of pairs of shorts, socks, and shirts that are currently being washed. That way, I never have to remember to pack my exercise clothing, and it’s always available for me. Additionally, check out the FitKit – I keep one in my bag at all times. It’s great for those moments when I have some unexpected time, or want to do something, but don’t have enough time to get to the gym.
- No matter how early your departing flight is, get up 45 minutes earlier than you have to, so you can workout before your flight. I’m writing this during my second hour into a 14-hour trip from NYC to Tokyo. I was at the airport at 8am, which meant I had to leave at 7am, which meant I needed to wake up at 5am to cycle for an hour before I showered and dressed for the airport. End result? I’ve already completed my workout today, and don’t have to think about it again until tomorrow.
- But what happens when tomorrow arrives when you land? When I land in about 12 hours, it’ll be Tuesday afternoon in Tokyo. By the time I get to the hotel, it’ll be around 5pm. I’ll hit the gym for a quick workout AGAIN. I do this for two reasons: a) 14 hours on a plane isn’t healthy – in fact, it could be downright dangerous. Getting the blood flowing even just for a little while has been shown to be beneficial in allowing quicker recovery from the negative effects of overseas travel. b) I usually stay up throughout my flights. By getting a workout in, then a light dinner, I tend to fall asleep without a problem at the normal bedtime of the city in which I’ve just landed. This means that when I wake up, I have zero jetlag. And there’s nothing better than starting your first day in a new land fresh and wide awake!
- Virtually every hotel in the modern world has a gym. It might be a small gym. It might be antiquated. But you know what? It’s a gym. And even if it doesn’t have the tools you’re used to, chances are it does have at least one treadmill and one bike. And let’s be honest – You’re not looking to PR while on a business trip, you’re simply looking to workout.
- If the gym isn’t to your liking, or if it’s too crowded (I’ve never seen a hotel gym get too crowded, by the way,) there’s always outside. Find a concierge and find out if they run. If they don’t, do they know someone who works in the hotel who does? You can get a ton of advice on where to go, and just as important, where to avoid, simply by asking. There are also tons of worldwide running websites that list the best, safest, and most interesting running paths, trails, and roads, all around the globe, in every country and city in the world. Chances are, your very own connections in your Strava account have already run a ton of them.
- Those mandatory corporate events aren’t that mandatory, you know. Hands down, one of the greatest feelings in the world is showing up for the conference breakfast, or your first meeting, having woken up early, already worked out. You’re fresh, projecting a confidence that you simply don’t get by staying out until 1am then sleeping through six alarms. How to do this? Simply go to sleep earlier than you normally would. Need to be seen at the previous evening’s event? Great. Show up, grab a club soda with lime, make a lap of the room, participate in two separate conversations, and escape. Trust me, no one cares if you’re there or not, and the only way to own that amazing feeling after your morning workout is, to in fact, have worked out. And to do that, get some sleep.
- Use flight delays to your advantage. Here’s a cool secret about airports: When one terminal or wing is super-busy, that means that another one is dead empty. If you’ve got a flight delay, or even just a long layover, find that empty wing or terminal, and do some squats down the hallway. If you’re not flying in business attire, drop for some push-ups and sit-ups. Just find a corner, get your workout done, and don’t care what anyone else might think. Besides, do you really care that you’re being judged by someone juggling two slices of Sbarro pizza, a large Coke, and a bag of chips as they waddle to their gate? I didn’t think so.
- Finally, it’s ok to take a day off. Maybe your flight was super-late, and you’ll only get four hours of sleep before your first meeting. I get it. It happens. The key is not to let one day off turn into more than one. The rule is: Never take two days off in a row from working out. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll hit the gym tomorrow, then KEEP that promise. I run a free Facebook group JUST for such accountability. Feel free to join us!
It’s not hard to stay on top of your workouts on the road. The key is not believing that a business trip is a free pass to not workout – Because let’s face it – It starts out as missing one day, and the next thing you know, it’s a month later, and you’ve lost half the gains you’ve made. Don’t let that happen to you!