One of the hardest thing about traveling as much as I do for work is staying in shape. Between long work days, plane flights, and business dinners, it is all too easy to let health and fitness fall by the wayside. When I am home, I try to get in at least one hour of targeted physical activity a day. On the weekdays I aim for this to be a weight training session/cardio at the gym, a session on my TRX if I can't make make it to the gym, and on the weekends I try for hiking or trail running so I can be outdoors and bring my son and my boxer along. Of course, this is a goal, and as most people (and parents) know, things are always subject to change. Like when I am on the road. Often times my schedule while traveling, training, or working with partners is dictated by someone other than myself. Which is fine, I am a big believer in trying to be flexible (something my 3 year old has helped instill in me). Even more than being flexible though, I am always willing to make the time to get in a workout even if the hour might be less than ideal. However, what is more challenging than trying to find the time to workout while traveling is being a weight lifting junkie, only to show up at a hotel that has nothing even remotely close to a gym. In fact, as most road veterans who like to keep fit can attest to, more often than not, hotel "gyms" are more likely to be a former janitor's closet with a set of weights and a sad treadmill facing a wall. During my time in industry, I have realized that hotels with great gyms are somewhat of a holy grail, and I can often be found bonding with other road warriors over where I can find the best hotel/gym combo in town.
Trying to make do with a crappy gym initially proved to be a huge challenge for me, and it often would deter me from working out entirely or doing much more than cardio. However, last spring I purchased a TRX (I will write a whole post about this magical piece of equipment some day) and fell in love with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which completely changed my on the road workout experience. The principle behind HIIT is pretty simple. The concept is about taking any type of exercise and repeating it in alternating intervals of high intensity followed by moderate intensity. The concept can be applied to anything from running, to squatting, to weight training, and is touted by fitness freaks as being one of the most effective ways to burn fat and tone muscle at the same time.
The best thing about HIIT though is that you can do it anywhere with little to no materials, making it the perfect type of workout for a less than impressive hotel gym. Here is what I used this past week in Tucson:
With practically no equipment at all (and these are items I have always found in even the lamest of gyms) and my trusty IntervalTimer app, I was able to come up with 5 days of grueling one hour HIIT sessions. When you are doing a HIIT routine, every day is different, making coming into the gym an exciting challenge to come up with a set of exercises that can be work a certain muscle group, or work at overall endurance. I like to switch my workouts by muscle groups. This past week I alternated between two workouts. My lower body workout full of sprints, 3 types of weighted squats, deadlifts, lunges, and leg raises, and my upper body workout involving curls, chest presses, planks, pushups, and other bicep and tricep moves.