Fitness Tips for the Active Traveller

It’s hard to maintain your fitness routine while on the road. We asked Toronto-based personal trainer Julian Thomas how to best adapt your workout to a new environment. Here are his essential tips for staying strong while travelling.

1. Plan ahead

It might sound like a no-brainer, but planning workouts on the go is often neglected. “When I travel, I’ll usually look for a hotel that has a gym,” says Thomas. Not only does this ensure you have a place to sweat it out, but a picture of the hotel gym can allow you to plan your workout according to the equipment available. If your accommodation doesn’t feature a gym, Thomas suggests looking for a commercial studio in the area that welcomes drop-ins. Another important planning tip is to schedule your workouts. “Treat them like appointments with yourself,” says Thomas. “If you plan, you’re in a way better position to maintain that commitment to your health.”

2. Pack the gym in your bag

Resistance bands, gymnastic rings and TRX are compact, carry-on-friendly items that adapt well to travel. “They allow you to do a full-body workout from anywhere,” says Thomas. All you need is a tree or something to hang from, such as a door frame. As an advocate of mobility training, he also recommends a small lacrosse ball to help release tension in the body. “It’s especially great for those who spend a lot of time on planes and on the road,” explains Thomas. “You can do a full-body massage on your own.”

3. Use what’s around you

No gym? No problem! Just look around the neighbourhood. “A lot of people don’t think that playgrounds are an option, but they have monkey bars, lots of props and space for running,” says Thomas. Another option is to find a spot with a decent staircase. In Toronto, Casa Loma is famous in the running community for its jagged, winding staircase. He suggests combining a staircase climb with a few jumping jacks and stretches for a perfect 10- to 20-minute workout. Worst-case scenario according to Thomas? Go back to your hotel room and do a body-weight workout.

Workout gear

4. Download a workout app

There are a lot of workout apps competing for attention in the app world, but Sworkit is Thomas’ favourite. “It’s actually really helpful,” he says. “It basically shows you a gif of a person doing the exercise and you follow along for a customized-length, body-weight workout.” For travellers who enjoy lifting heavier weights, he recommends StrongLifts 5x5. The app lets you track your progress and workouts – perfect for those training without a program from a personal coach.

5. When in doubt, walk it out

Walking is an activity a lot of people overlook or undervalue, but it’s a great way to relieve stress and get the body moving. “I’m a big proponent of mindset and mental state,” says Thomas. “When you’re on the road and your schedule is upside down, it’s especially important to be aware of the stress factor.” Going for a stroll allows you to better discover a city and helps decrease your stress levels to the sound of your favourite music, audiobook, podcast or meditation tapes.


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Bonus: Julian Thomas’ 10-minute full-body hotel room workout

Go through the entire circuit, then take a two-minute rest. Do at least two rounds.

  1. High Knees (cardio) 30 seconds
    Run on the spot while lifting your knees to hip level.
  2. Lunge Twist (legs, core) 10 reps per side
    Take a big step forward with arms out to your side and turn over your leg as you sink into the lunge, then push back to standing and switch legs.
  3. Side Plank Rotations (core) 10 each way
    Get into a side plank position on your left side, then roll into the front plank position and finish in the side plank on your right side. That’s one rep.
  4. Mountain Climbers (chest, arms, obliques) 10 each side
    Starting in a push-up position, as you lower your body, turn to the left to bring your left knee up to the left elbow. Go back into the starting position and repeat on the right side.
  5. Jumping Jacks (cardio) 30 seconds
  6. Crossover Sit-ups (abs) 20 total
    Lying on your back, lift your left leg off the ground about halfway straight and reach for your left foot with your right hand, using your abs to bring your upper back off the floor.
  7. Superman (back, glutes) 10 each side
    Starting in a plank position, lift your right arm and left leg straight, completely off the ground. Try not to let your hips move at all. Switch sides and repeat. That’s one rep.
  8. Squat Touch Jumps (legs) 20 reps
    Get into a squat and jump off the ground, tapping both feet on the spot directly in the middle during the hang time before landing back in the squat.