Vacation is meant to be a time when you can relax and unwind from the craziness of daily life. But depending on how long you’re gone, you may want to get some exercise in on your trip. (I should note that I’m all for taking a week off from the gym, but those margaritas on the beach are so much more rewarding when I know I’ve gotten a workout in.) If working out on vacation isn’t for you, that’s fine—no judgement here. But if you’re looking for a few ways to get in some cardio or strength training, you don’t need to drag yourself out of bed in the morning just to run in place at the hotel gym.
There are plenty of ways to get a workout without ever setting foot in one of those cramped resort fitness centers. I reached out to some personal trainers to find out how they break a sweat on vacay without taking much time away from enjoying every minute of their trip. Jess Stadler, founder of lifestylewithjess.com, and Macy Conger, lead trainer at City Fit Concierge in Nashville, let me in on their favorite ways to sneak in a workout while still fitting in plenty of rest, relaxation, and adventure.
Resistance bands are your friend
If you’re interested in getting in a workout with a view, head to the beach with a resistance band in hand. Stadler likes to do a circuit of these five exercises, going through each one for about 45 seconds for three to five rounds total:
- Start with a jump squat, placing the band around your thighs. “[It’s an] amazing power workout that helps build strength and get your heart rate up,” she says.
- Try the Bulgarian lunge—start with the band around your thighs. Place your back foot on a step or chair, and the lunge with all the weight on your front leg. (Do this for both legs.) “It’s a killer booty exercise,” says Stadler.
- Add in some monster skiers. Place the band around your ankles, then jump forward and diagonally right. Then, with feet together, jump diagonally left. Then jump backward, back to your starting point. “This works your hips, quads, booty, and hamstrings. It also gets your heart rate up and is amazing for a cardio burst,” says Stadler.
- Next, try a curtsy lunge to plyo. Place the band around your thighs, and go back into a curtsy lunge. (Check out how to do a curtsy lunge, if you’re unsure.) Then, power up and jump through with your other leg, leading automatically into the next lunge. It should be a continuous flow of lunging without a break in between.
- Finish up with the push up to plank jack. Start with the band around your wrists. Go down for a push up, but then switch to a plank position. Kick your legs outward and back in (as if you were doing a jumping jack). Go back up into a pushup position and repeat.
Getting a workout in is easy when you have a view like the beach or a park. It allows you to still take in the sights while burning a few calories and strengthening those muscles.
Trainer Macy Conger also uses the band as her go-to while she’s on vacation. “Mini bands are life savers,” Conger says. “… They can fit anywhere—purse, bag, pockets. There’s no excuse not to get something in when you’ve got a band.”
But when Conger isn’t using her resistance band, she likes to get a vacay workout while taking in the sights on a run. “It’s the best way to check out the town you’re visiting and spot out some new places to explore,” she says.
And while the hotel fitness center might not be fun and exciting, Conger likes to check out a local gym or yoga studio if she’s exploring a new city. “Everywhere has yoga studios, so it’s an easy way to get a workout in and try somewhere new.”
You don’t always need to do obvious strength training or cardio while on vacation
Vacation is meant to be a time to unwind and de-stress from your normal daily routine. But you can also get in some good cardio or strength training virtually anywhere without any equipment. Here are a few other ways you can sneak in a quick vacation workout, depending on what type of trip you’re taking:
- If you’re visiting the beach, take a walk on the beach in the morning. The sand is great for your legs, and a brisk pace will get your heart pumping. Plus, you can take in the beautiful ocean views.
- Water activities, such as paddle boarding and kayaking, are awesome ways to work your core and upper body. Plus, you can do them with friends, so you won’t even realize you’re working out. (And sometimes, you can even find a paddle board yoga class.)
- If you’re visiting the mountains, try to fit in a hike. It might be a bit of a strenuous climb, but grab a partner to chat with and take in the amazing view at the top.
- Explore a new city by foot or bicycle as opposed to hopping in a cab or Uber. A car is just a click away, but sometimes you stumble upon the best hidden gems while walking and taking in the sights—and Conger said it’s one of her favorite ways to sight see.
One important tip: Don’t be too hard on yourself about working out. Accept that while on vacation, you might not spend as much time burning calories as you regularly do, and that’s perfectly fine. Take your trip as an opportunity to explore a new place. If a workout happens to be a part of that, great. If not, let it be. “At the end of the day, you are on vacation,” says Conger. “Make your workouts fun and doable, but nothing too taxing or unenjoyable.”
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