So this past weekend Lindsay and I packed up the wagon and hit the dusty trail en route to spend some time with her parents and hang out at her 10 year high school reunion. Now me and long car rides don’t really get along. Actually, to be more accurate my back and long drives don’t get along very well. I tend to walk around like a decrepit old man for a few hours after getting out of the car following the 8 hour drive, and my ability to get any kind of core engagement could be defined as trifling.
Top it off with the fact that Lindsay’s mom tends to bake buns and squares and cookies and stuff like that, which is terrible because then it gets eaten. As a result, I tend to wind up in a bloated grain-induced stupor after the first day and a half, which means workouts are not just recommended, they’re mandatory.
The big difficulty was that the town we were in wasn’t known as a hot-bed of fitness center activity, having only one small facility that was the same size as the stretching mats at my own club. So on our first full day in town, we trundled on in, and a few things managed to shock me, like a lack of squat rack, the presence of 120 pound dumbbells, and wood beam floors that would prevent me from doing any kinds of deadlifts other than partial reps from the top, which would inevitably cause some form of crippling injury given my current core condition. As a result, I figured I would do for myself what I would do for any of my clients in the same situation, and focus on some simple core stability and re-activation exercises to help me feel like a million bucks again.
I was definitely not training like a ninja that day.
Simple exercises like dead bugs, bird dogs, stir the pot, and a few other creations of my own accord that I can usually whip through with no issue made me feel like I needed to put in my order for Depends undergarments and a good sturdy cane now before the baby boomers sucked the market dry.
Once I was able to get in a good 20 minutes of core activation, I decided to throw in some dumbbell chest presses since I’m on a quest to make my bench numbers look a little less wimpy. Seriously, for a guy who on average weights anywhere between 225 and 230, I’m maxing out my bench at around 285 right now. That’s just plain pathetic. I’ve been focusing on low rep heavy pressing lately, so being vacation I thought I would throw in some higher volume sets of 10-15 reps with 65 per hand, and after my last rep of the first set I went to put my weights down on the floor and I swear to God I thought I was going to open up a gaping hole when the dumbbells hit the floor. Did I mention that the floor was wood beams??
After shaking off the concerned and somewhat angry stare of the 70-year-old volunteer manager lady, I re-inforced the dumbbell landing zone with some thick mats so that there was less of a chance of plummeting to my early demise under mere 65 pound dumbbells, and proceeded to do another few sets, followed by some other upper body work, and some of the most painful foam rolling I’ve ever experienced on my legs.
The following day was Lindsay’s reunion, which consisted of playing 9 holes of golf, which I thoroughly enjoyed even though my game could be considered a cross between John Daly and Charles Barkley. I combine John’s sense of style on the course with Charles’, well……
Suffice it to say that golf will never become a way of earning a stable income for me.
Our last day in town was spent walking our two dogs through the park during the town festival and meeting other people she knew, and then heading out to their farm for dinner. After dinner, I felt like I needed to get a sweat going, so I hopped on their $60 Canadian Tire special exercise bike and pedaled for 40 minutes, in spite of the fact that the seat height was stuck about 6 inches shorter than I needed it to be, the handles were close to falling off and it wobbled worse than Harry Carey during a 9th inning run by the Cubs.
The key facts to remember here is that I wasn’t able to train like normal, but I could make do with what was available and get something in. If really pressed, I could have done a body weight workout in their basement just fine, and been able to get some strength and cardio through that means as well. Top it off with the fact that we walked a lot, played some golf, and had a restful enjoyable short vacation, which is the entire goal of a vacation. No one should feel obligated to maintain a training effect during vacation, but sitting on your butt and not doing anything is pretty counter-productive to everything. You feel tired, sluggish, bloated, and even less likely to want to exercise than if you were to do something, anything at all.
So next time you go on vacation, find a way to get some exercise in. You can make it an adventure outing, some beach-friendly activities or even a formal structured workout if you’re in to that sort of thing, but staying active will help you enjoy your vacations more and not feel like death come your first workout back at it again upon your return to reality.