Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sweat On the Road

One of the problems with frequent traveling (of which there are myriad) is staying healthy and fit. Eating healthily while on the road is always a challenge, but even that can be offset with a decent exercise regimen. Many years ago, I got into the habit of avoiding “labor saving” things like elevators and escalators (I always take the stairs when possible, even when carrying luggage), walking instead of cabbing or driving when practical, etc. Travel to major cities is always good because they are usually somewhat pedestrian-friendly.

Most hotels have some kind of fitness center (which can range from a single dilapidated treadmill shoved in a closet in a damp, ill-lit basement next to a sign that reads “beware of the leopard”) to a full-scale gym/spa like the one at the LVH Hotel in Las Vegas—although they charged $20 day, so that wasn’t gonna happen. One advantage to Las Vegas is that, the town being what it is, you rarely find fitness centers crowded (or even occupied) at 6 a.m.

As a result, I have been compiling “travel workouts of the day (WODs)” from various CrossFit sites (and some that I just make up based on what’s available and what I’m in the mood to do). Most can be done in a hotel room (at one Graph Expo hotel last year, the only room available was the handicapped-accessible room which had a great wide-open space for burpees), and many hotel fitness rooms have a set of dumbbells, so some strength exercises can be included as well. This will of course depend on the size of the fitness room; doing one-armed dumbbell snatches in a smallish exercise room in the Chicago Marriott Courtyard earlier this month, I nearly clonked some guy who blundered into my workout radius.

A great travel WOD I recently found online and did—appropriately—in Las Vegas last week is called “Blackjack,” as each set comprises 21 total reps. It goes like this:
For time:
Pushups: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20
alternating with
Situps: 20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
What this means is that in Set 1, you do one pushup, followed by 20 situps. In Set 2, you do 2 pushups, then 19 situps. And so forth, concluding with Set 20 which comprises 20 pushups and 1 situp. I did it, appropriately, in about 21 minutes. The pushups get you toward the end...

Another good one is:
12 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible);
10 pushups
15 situps
20 walking lunges (each leg = 1/2 rep)
I did this one for the first time in Memphis last month and completed 3 rounds + 10 pushups + 15 situps. Reprising it in Vegas last week, I completed 4 rounds + 10 pushups + 10 situps. It's always good to repeat workouts and note progress.

If the hotel fitness center has a set of dumbbells, this is a good one I did in Chicago (with the caveat I mentioned earlier):
3 rounds for time:
20 one-armed dumbbell snatches (10 each arm), 30# dumbbell
15 pushups
20 situps

Various tabata-style exercises are also good for hotel rooms. Tabata is a style of high-intensity interval training that, in the incarnation I usually do, comprises 8 cycles of 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise (like burpees, situps, or anything, really) where you are moving as fast as you can, followed by 10 seconds of rest. I have a good Tabata Timer app for the iPhone that time the cycles and tell you when to stop and go. The great MyWOD iPhone/iPad app also has a tabata timer that lets you enter the total number of reps for each cycle of activity.

The advantage to these types of workouts is that thety do not require a great deal of time, a big advantage when you are on the road and have morning meetings.

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