How to Stay Healthy While You're On the Road
By any mortal standard, Yamandu Perez’s workout regime is impressive. The Chicago-based restaurant and bar owner, who did four Ironman races in one calendar year, routinely rises at 6 a.m. to run, bike or swim before pulling into the office. When he travels, he practices a floor-exercise routine in his hotel and seeks out local running or triathlon clubs. For Perez, who is working on opening his third restaurant, athletics are vital for his personal health and integral to his professional success.
“I’m never satisfied with my results,” he says. “So I bring that to work. It doesn’t matter how amazing we did today; there’s always something you can learn.”
Maintaining fitness while traveling often requires running a gauntlet of temptations and traps—from late-night meals to irregular sleep—that can derail your physical energy and your psychic motivation. Earlier this year, Omni Hotels & Resorts released a survey that found that 70 percent of travelers routinely gain weight on the road.
From low-fat foods to souped-up gyms, the travel industry has stepped in with wellness initiatives. Omni offers gluten-free breakfast stations at its buffets. Delta Air Lines carries fresh packaged-food choices such as wraps and salads from Luvo. Hotel gyms, once acceptably closet-size, have become amenity selling points. Forgot your sneakers? Chains like Westin and Fairmont will loan them to you for a nominal fee.
“We see hotels responding to business travelers -- who have back-to-back meetings, are eating on the fly and want to decompress quickly -- by sometimes putting a treadmill in the room,” says Christina Gambini, a vice president at Travel Leaders Group, which represents about a third of travel agents nationally. Meanwhile, posted calorie counts at restaurants have raised awareness of airport pitfalls. “Maybe you don’t get a Starbucks venti; you get the tall.”
Trainers suggest that the easiest form of exercise on the road, one with no equipment required, is body-weight circuits: repetitions of push-ups, squats, jumping jacks and burpees (a combination of squats, planks and jumps).
“It is generally thought that weights and treadmills are necessary to work out, but you can get strength and cardio benefits from doing a simple body-weight routine,” says David Chesworth, fitness specialist at Hilton Head Health, a weight-loss and wellness retreat in South Carolina. You can pump up the energy level by throwing in high knees or mountain climbers between sets.
Planning a new brewery in Germany, Greg Koch, co-founder and CEO of San Diego-based Stone Brewing Co., swears by his “no excuses” daily workout: four sets each of push-ups, hill climbers and jackknives. He’s spending so much time in Germany these days that he bought an apartment there. He also bought a bike that he uses to commute, combining exercise and immersion. “I learn more about my surroundings quicker,” he says. “It’s a real sense of freedom.”