Posted March 11, 2016

Staying Somewhat Healthy While in Vacation Mode

I’m currently in Las Vegas on a short holiday, and fortunately the weather is warm enough to enjoy some pool time. However, as is the case any time I come to Vegas, everywhere I go they seem to be playing Nickelback. I’ll grin and bear it I guess.

The week after, I’ll be heading to Toronto for Tony Gentilcore and I presenting Complete Shoulder & Hip workshop, which means I’m spending a good portion of time living out of a suitcase in the next 2 weeks.

Travel is something that used to be pretty hard, but now I’ve managed to get it down to a science. Last year I was on a plane 32 times, which means lots of airports, hotels, hotel breakfasts, and timezone changes. Occasionally the hotels I stay at would have a gym, and occasionally they are even decent enough to do some squats or deadlifts. Then there’s the inconvenient truth that most meals will have to be consumed in restaurants, meaning less control over the caloric intake you have each day.

So today I wanted to outline a few simple tips that can help keep you healthy if you’re on vacation or traveling for work a lot, plus hopefully help you still enjoy your time out there.

First, I want to make one thing clear. If you’re on a big vacation and in a new place in the world you haven’t been to before and may not be back to again, your workout shouldn’t be the main thing you’re worried about. Get out and explore the world around you.

You live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of.” – Louis C.K., comedian

If I were in a region where outdoor activities were a major draw, I’d try to do as much of those as possible. When I get a chance for a long weekend and head to the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise), I try to hike or mountain bike as much as possible. I’ve even done some rock climbing, and as you can imagine, 6’2” and 250 lb guys are fantastic rock climbers.

I’ve had clients take ski trips and ask what exercises they should do, and for the most part I tell them to just ski and enjoy themselves. Some clients have gone surfing, or scuba diving or whatever they’re interested in, and want to know what else they should be doing. I tell them to just have a life and use the vacation to get recharged.

So if you’re in a situation where you have an awesome opportunity to do “vacation activities,” don’t worry about specific workouts. You’re being active, and more importantly having a great time while you’re at it.

Climbing the pyramid at Cobha was way more fulfilling than riding a bike or walking on a treadmill at the hotel.

Climbing the pyramid at Cobha was way more fulfilling than riding a bike or walking on a treadmill at the hotel.

Now on the other hand, if you’re more into vacations that involve being as minimally active (and likely as minimally conscious) as possible, you might need to make a better effort to getting in a workout. If you’re travelling to a hotel, most of the time you can check on line to see if they have a gym in their building or if they have one nearby that you can access. Now be aware, a “hotel gym” can run the gambit from a broken down elliptical and a half-deflated stability ball to some amazing Shangri La paradise. Some might have their own full service commercial facility, or may be affiliated with a commercial or private gym that you can access for free or for a small cost.

Las Vegas hotels tend to all have amazing facilities (from the ones I’ve seen), but most of them tend to run for about $20 a drop in, some even as much as $30, but occasionally they can be included in the room or resort fee. They’re also jam-packed busy with old dudes getting in their cardio and young broz hitting up arms before going clubbing for the night. Compare that to the Hyatt at Grand Central in New York, which actually had kettlebells, a squat rack, and dumbbells up to 80 pounds. I can’t express my excitement about seeing this in a hotel gym, as it’s like a bloody unicorn!! That and no one else was in there, there were free water bottles and towels, and no drop in fee. Success!!

Checking ahead can give you an idea of what facilities you have access to, and whether you’ll have to adjust your workouts at all. However, let’s say you are going to be at a facility that has zero equipment. You can still bring the bodyweight versions of the High Tensile Strength program, and maybe pack a band or lacrosse ball to get through some of the exercises with some added resistance and do some soft tissue work, respectively. You can also do the exercises without the resistance and just “fake it” by trying to tense muscles that would do the work much harder.

Pretend like you’re doing a goblet squat, but that the imaginary dumbbell you’re “holding” weighs 500 pounds. It will still be effective.

If you don’t have a gym handy, but still want to do a workout, what can you do? There’s a couple of big options. First, you can do a Google search and find gyms in the area of where you’re going to be staying and see if there’s a good place near by that you’d be able to access without much issue, or maybe you’ll need to take an Uber to get there or you could walk, depending on the area. Some places are worth making the trip to get to.

This last year I was in LA and had a few days of vacation, so my wife and I would brave traffic and drive from Hermosa Beach to Venice Beach and go to the legendary Golds Gym, simply because it’s such an iconic facility to the history of training. I mean, the first day we were there, Arnold Schwarzennegger had just left, but Lou Ferrigno (aka the Incredible Hulk) was still training. You can’t create that kind of environment very easily. If there’s a destination you want to check out, make it happen. It’s your vacation.

Next, let’s say you find a good place, and have questions about their equipment, drop in rates, open hours, class times, etc. Reach out to them and see what’s happening. Maybe it’s a facility that does entirely different things than you’re used to, and maybe they only cater to their members and don’t do drop ins. You won’t know unless you ask.  You might even be able to get a free pass if you’re just going to be there for a few days, but it’s up to them.

Do you have to keep the same training frequency? Not if you don’t want to. It’s your vacation, after all. If you want to work out more, or work out less, it’s entirely up to you and what you’re doing. If you’re doing a lot of activities on your vacation, you probably don’t need as many workouts. If you’re just in to doing a solid week of sitting by a pool, you could cut back or do more, it’s up to you. If you simply WANT to work out more, go for it. I would say try to do something active every day.

From here, it’s still important to try to keep up with the image of sound nutrition. By image, I mean try to eat something green once in a while, and green jello shots don’t count.

Try to eat a salad every day. Typically when I travel I try to have salads for lunch so that I can get in some veggies without having to worry about it. Most restaurants have fairly extensive salad menus, so try to get some with minimal cheese and ranch dressing, and opt for grilled protein versus breaded.

Breakfasts can vary depending on whether the hotel you’re at has cold cereal or a custom omelette chef, so having a salad for lunch can ensure you have some veggies in your build each day, plus it can keep the calories balanced out if you’re having a few adult beverages or desserts through the day.


Alright, enough chatter. Time to go get a workout in before all of the rest of Vegas starts waking up. Enjoy the weekend!!