• Thu, May 9 2013

Gym Classy Lady: I Can’t Bring Myself To Exercise On Vacation (And That’s Okay)

woman in beach chair relaxing We’ve all done it. You smush the cute tops and party dresses down in your suitcase to fit the suddenly-gigantic gym shoes (how is it that you never realized they were so huge?). When you arrive, the shoes—having seemingly grown a size in transit—have served as a sort of anti-iron for all of your clothes. You spend the rest of your vacation looking slightly unkept and hanging clothes in the bathroom to steam/de-wrinkle while you shower. And all the while, the shoes remain in place. In your suitcase. And that’s just the shoes. My vacation suitcase also includes 100 invaluable square inches devoted to workout gear—my sports bras and leggings have racked up thousands of frequent flier miles at this point. The things they could have seen … if I’d actually used them for anything other than suitcase padding, that is.

Because here’s the thing: For all the times I’ve paid extra to check a bag full of workout gear, I’ve almost never worked out on vacation. Each time, I tell myself this trip is going to be different. I’ll do planks in my hotel room, a few sit-ups before dinner, a quick run in the beautiful weather (all things I’ve actually thought, frighteningly). And, each time, something inevitably gets in the way (“I smell something funny,” “my iPod isn’t charged,” “oh, is that a cloud in the sky?”). I spent this weekend in Mexico for a friend’s wedding. The weather was gorgeous and the wedding even more so, but somehow, despite the best of intentions, my sneakers went unworn (except the flight home, of course). Foiled again!

I had even planned different ways to try and work up some workout motivation. A friend told me about Barre3’s “28 to Great” program, where you pay $28 for access to online barre workouts. For 28 days, you are supposed to do six videos (ranging in length from 10-60 minutes) a week, and you can do them from anywhere. I figured this would be great for traveling—but then I realized the hotel’s internet access wasn’t quite up to par for streaming video (thanks for that excuse, Trip Advisor!). I may still do “28 to Great” when I’m home for a month, but it was a no-go in Mexico. Realizing internet access wouldn’t be reliable, I had to get more creative.

So I turned to Pinterest, which is what everyone does when they want to get creative, right? I mean, I’ve seen those “homemade paper” posts (sigh). I’ve also heard of people pinning workouts so I went to the health and fitness section and hit the motherload. All sorts of different cardio/strength combinations that would keep me occupied for days on the beach in Mexico! Positively foolproof! In the end, however, all my screengrabs were for naught. It was too sunny, or not sunny enough, or just right for laying out, not working out. Finally, on Friday, my fiancé and I dragged a kayak out into the ocean and paddled around at a semi-rapid pace for a half hour. The level of pride I displayed about this action was akin to a new parent watching their little one take that first step. I was exercising! On vacation! I could do this again! (I didn’t.) I might even be sore! (I wasn’t.) You would’ve thought that I cured cancer, not paddled 100 yards into the Gulf of Mexico. Nonetheless, it only then occurred to me that probably the best way to get legitimate exercise on a vacation is to make an activity out of it.

While I can’t get excited for an elliptical workout in a hotel gym, a hike to see something new or pretty is a much more appealing option. Yoga is fine in a hotel spa, but it will always be more enjoyable on a beach, right? (Please note that I did not hike nor do yoga on the beach, but find them both lovely ideas for your next vacation.) And if the worst thing that happens is I get a little extra sleep and sun on my vacation (check and check) but never actually work out, I guess that’s ok too. After all, my yoga leggings did see the Cancun airport.

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  • Eileen

    I’ve gone for runs on vacation, or played tennis, but I think the most effective thing is, if you’re going to a city, don’t bring a car (or just leave it at the hotel parking lot). Walking is still activity!