In the fitness industry, the word flexibility has a dual meaning. The first is obvious – it is the range of motion about a joint in the body. The second is acknowledging that sometimes we have to balance the demands of family and work with our commitment to ourselves to stay in shape.
Travel has become a requirement of many of our jobs. It can be exciting to visit different cities and learn about their histories and cultures, but following a workout routine can quickly become challenging.
Some people try to make their travel arrangements to only include hotels with fitness centers available for their guests. For the occasional trip and depending on your destination, this could be pretty easy. However, for someone who travels a lot, it can become time-consuming and frustrating. Not being able to find a gym to use only adds to the stress of traveling. And even if you are able to find hotels with on site fitness facilities, they are often limited in their hours of use, and also in the quality and quantity of their equipment.
A more viable option is bands, balls, and bottles.
Bands are an effective alternative to dumbbells. They have handles, and are offered in different resistances, generally from ultra light (least amount of resistance) to maximum strength. Depending on the manufacturer, there may be 4 to 8 different resistances available. Any exercise that uses dumbbells can be performed with bands. Some examples are bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, squats, shoulder presses, lateral raises, lunges, and calf raises.
Resistance bands work the same muscles that dumbbells do, but challenge them differently. Other benefits include increasing coordination and allowing subtle changes simply by switching your hand grip. Additionally, they are effective for rehabilitating injuries, like those to the rotator cuff.
Bands are easy to use. To stabilize them, you can stand on one end, tie it to a doorknob, or place it under or wrap it around a piece of furniture. You can also choose the ones with grips that are most comfortable for your hands. They can be purchased at fitness stores or online. Before buying online, try several in a store so you know which ones to order. You may find that you prefer a heavier tension for your lower body and a lighter tension for your upper body.
Balance balls are often used for regaining leg strength, building arm muscle, and helping to improve balance and increase core stability while performing other movements such as bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and shoulder raises.
Balls come in different sizes, as measured by their diameter in centimeters. To find the right size for you, put on your workout shoes (no boots, high heels, flip flops, etc.), go to a fitness center or a store that sells fitness equipment, and sit on the balls. The best fit ball is the one that when you are sitting on it, your thighs are parallel to the floor, your knees are bent in 90° angles, and your feet are flat on the floor. Note the size, not the color, because the color as it relates to size is not consistent across all balls. When you buy the ball, be sure to get a hand pump to inflate it. These are small and lightweight. Often times, kits are available with a ball and a pump.
Water bottles. Stay hydrated before, during, and after you exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 8 – 16 oz. of water an hour before you exercise, 4 – 8 oz. every 10 – 15 minutes during exercise, and another 16 – 24 oz. within the 30 minutes following exercise. This may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated so you need to continue drinking water. Don’t get pulled in by the latest energy drink. Stick with water and keep it simple.
Bands, balls and a pump are easy to transport and only require a small amount of space in a suitcase. Consider putting them in your carry-on bag, so should your luggage get temporarily lost, you will still be able to work out and that will be one less frustration for you.
Bottles, both disposable and washable, can obviously be purchased nearly anywhere. For ease, you may choose to buy bottled water at the hotel or a nearby convenience store. When you’ve finished the water, the bottle can be recycled or disposed of. Another option is to buy a washable bottle with the city’s name or local sports team’s logo on it as a souvenir. If you travel a lot, you will build quite a collection in a short time.
Sticking to your exercise routine while on the road is pretty simple. It only requires a little planning and the desire to stay fit.