Let’s be honest the travel thing is certainly off the cards right now, as is having to consider fitness on the move. However, I think it is a great time to reflect on the last year and how our fitness habits and norms have changed and how we can take this forward when we no longer have the restrictions that we currently have to contend with. In many ways this current practice may make our travel for work or pleasure a time when we can still incorporate fitness in to the time we have available when we are away. Maybe the tools we have available to us, the way we have adapted to incorporate exercise in to our daily/weekly routines from home will ensure that everyone can stay connected wherever they are, so they stay on track with the many physical and mental benefits of exercising wherever you are in the country or the world. It could just be the motivation that is needed when a change to the normal routine (currently lockdown!) happens and we are faced with having to get the suitcase out again for work or play (ideally the latter).
2021 and I think it is safe to say we have all had to adapt our lives in many ways from what was our normal routine. 2020 taught us a lot, maybe it was the importance of spending time with friends and family, social activities, holidays or just being able to make plans..and stick to them, the stress of job security, adapting a business to the new normal or no routine or usual salary due to furlough, working from home and homeschooling. This list may not be exhaustive, but I’m sure that there is something that resonates with everyone. I also believe for many, the importance of our own health and well being and that of our loved ones has gone up on the list of our priorities. However, I think during the first lockdown in 2020, with gyms and studios closed, no opportunity for meeting others outside of our household to exercise, it meant that motivation from an instructor in a class, the social aspect of exercising with others in a group and being accountable by turning up for the class you have booked and paid for, maybe made the motivation to exercise a little more challenging. The mindset for many may have shifted slightly, with very different routines to adapt to for many and the usual preference for ways to exercise no longer available, motivation to exercise may well have waned too. There were many pro active instructors and businesses, Zest Live being a fantastic example, of responding to the lockdown and ensuring that they could offer the classes their clients were used to participating in from the comfort of their own home. I think that the virtual experience has helped on so many levels. The feeling of a sense of routine, recognising other participants, the instructor they find motivating, encouraging them and providing a workout, suitable for home which challenges the body and just feeling that despite circumstances they are motivated enough to book in to a class and continue to build on their fitness in a way that may be they would not be able to achieve if left to do this alone, has been such a huge and massively positive shift in the industry.
Motivation may be extrinsic, so coming from outside us, for example, an instructor ensuring you they encourage and challenge you. Or perhaps motivating because you have set a goal for yourself, to commit to a number of classes a week, or a strength based goal, or time based run. Whatever the reasons you make time to commit to your fitness, there are times where this may be a challenge. Add a change from where you normally exercise in to the mix and this can be a good reason to take those extra rest days.
So how do you find the motivation in this situation? Everyone has something that they find motivating – group workouts with great music and a motivating instructor, small group training in the great outdoors, a personal training session that focuses on your specific goals, trying to smash your time for a 5KM run, or maybe just feeling a sense of satisfaction that you’ve done something positive for you. Whatever it is that motivates you there may be times where with the best will in the world it just isn’t going to happen. This can be the case often when you’re travelling for work or a holiday, limited space or facilities available, a long day in meetings or just wanting to explore somewhere new, relax and refuel.
Like everyone, my routine over the last year has changed beyond recognition. I used to travel and spend time away from home every week, working shifts, sometimes with limited access to a gym or space to exercise as I usually would, other times just wondering how I could muster up and energy and enthusiasm for exercising (this was generally when I was waking up at 4am to start my sometimes 10+ hour work day, so by mid afternoon this was a challenge for even a motivated fitness instructor!) With this in mind I am experienced at recognising the challenges this presents and hope my go to tips can help continue to motivate you in the future. I always had portable fitness equipment which came everywhere with me, it meant I always had something I could do, whatever the facilities, be it a small gym or often my hotel room and it meant no excuses! This includes a pair of Gliding discs (great way to challenge the body in various planes of movement, adds a serious challenge to squats, lunges, press ups and variations of planks, wow – try it !) and resistance bands, with handles and the single long loop. Years ago I would always think that I needed to train for a certain amount of time or follow a program exactly, without actually recognising what else I had done that day or how I felt. I was motivated by maintaining my fitness and routine regardless. Fortunately, my approach has changed somewhat. My motivation is still to maintain my fitness and enjoy my form of exercise that is appropriate for that day, but I recognise that being kind to myself and doing something that provides a more balanced approach to keeping fit is far healthier too. As a result I found it far more enjoyable making fitness a part of my time on the move. I also recognised that if you don’t have all the usual equipment, space, time or class you like that motivates you, you can still do something that maintains your fitness. The one thing that I would always tell myself was that I am always going to feel better for doing something than nothing. Even if it was a 20 minute workout, a yoga flow and relaxation, resistance bands instead of weights. The fact that I still took some time to do something that made me feel good was a great motivator. Quite often within 10 minutes that small 20 minute goal seemed achievable and I would get into whatever I was and actually surpass my goal. Not intentionally, but actually it just confirms making the decision to exercise, starting moving was the hard bit! I would say my main shift has been to listen to my body, be kind and if there is not the usual equipment it is still possible to do something rather than nothing at all. The kit I take means that I can get both a cardio and resistance workout, no high impact required (if you happen to be in a hotel with little soundproofing power lunges may not be your best exercise to include!) and also body weight exercises with no equipment. On my must get list is a travel yoga mat. I have been incorporating yoga practice in to my fitness routine on a regular basis since I last travelled regularly. This is part of my routine a year or so ago I would not have placed such importance on, but the benefits are incredible for the mind and body, I will always make the time for this.
A holiday is likely to be high on the list for a lot of people when it is possible again. I would imagine over the last year most people have got used to their routine and managing this really well. The real challenge may present itself when we want to try and find a way to maintain this when we are away. We usually work out a little harder to compensate pre holiday and maybe a lot harder when we get back. But really it is possible to continue to commit to 2-3 short sessions in a week, even when away. The opportunity to still participate in a virtual class or video on demand for that quick fix 15 minute workout is available. So if you’re up early because of a time difference or your meeting doesn’t start for 2 hours and you are at a bit of a loss as to what to do, the motivation you have at your fingertips from an instructor is still accessible. If you like to try some of the exercises you have learned at home doing classes give it a go, set a timer and try some interval training. Or just commit to use that equipment you have taken the time to pack!
My top tips for those on the move or travelling who want to maintain their fitness are be your motivator! Remember how good you feel when you exercise. If you only have 20 minutes, then use it to do something you enjoy doing. Make some time to connect with you and what you enjoy doing to meet your exercise goal while you are away. Know that you will always feel better for doing something rather than nothing and it may just energise you for the rest of the day, or help you unwind before you sleep. Use the tools you have – even if it is you, to challenge yourself. All these may require you to commit to motivating yourself, so if that seems unrealistic then know that lockdown has provided us with the ability to connect wherever we are. The experience instructors have gained from teaching from a sitting room/garden room or various other places in their house has meant that we are well adapted to providing a group environment that can motivate and keep you on track wherever you are on the move to. So when the time comes to pack a bag again, consider popping your training gear and equipment in there too. Realise the investment you have put in to your health and fitness in the last year doesn’t have to change just because you are no longer working from home. You have all put that value on your health and know how good it feels as a result. The silver lining of this last year for me is that when I do need to travel again I know I will be packing my equipment (and mat) and finding new and exciting places to exercise. Also the possibilities of connecting wherever I may be for classes is exciting! Take the motivation you have found to connect and enjoy the possibilities we now have going forward. Enjoy the travel, the relaxation and the fact that you are motivated to continue wherever you may be and just enjoy the benefits that fitness has brought in to your life and continue to make this an important part of the day.
I look forward to seeing some of you from different locations in the future!