I am writing this in the airport waiting for our return flight from Florida, where my husband (James) and I got away for four days. While there, we fit in some exercise. James is not the exercise enthusiast that I am, but he does like to run and is wonderfully supportive of me and my fitness “habits”. So while we were away, I ran three times (twice with James along Beach Road in Jupiter with beautiful ocean views, and once by myself for 8 hot, humid, and flat miles). I also went to a Kettlebell/TRX class taught by a friend, Josephine Bunn. Technically James and I did this together, since he dropped me off, went to Dunkin Donuts, and brought me coffee and a donut after the class (as I said, he is very supportive). Of course without our children with us, it was easy and fun to fit in a few workouts while on vacation. However, this is not our typical vacation (it was the first time we have gotten away for more than an overnight in 22 years). The other 99% of the time that we get away our children are with us. Yet, I still manage to squeeze in fitness most of the time. So with summer fast approaching, and the start of family vacations, I am sharing five ways to fit in a workout while away…or not!
1. Get up and out early before the family wakes up. Let’s face it, this is the tried and true way of getting it in. It’s how we can guarantee to get it done. Pros If we have a lot planned for the day, sometimes this is the only way to fit in exercise, without interfering in family activities. Cons…Sometimes we just want to sleep in while on vacation…and waking up early feels too much like home.
2. Incorporate the kids. I will say, “Whoever runs three miles with me this morning gets to go out for ice cream later.” I have a pretty competitive family, so when one of my kids agrees, its motivation for others to come along too. For younger kids, map out a course where they can run one of the miles with you and then you can drop them off and go another few without them. Pros…Usually works on kids 14 and under. Cons…Usually doesn’t work on kids 15 and over.
3. Work exercise into the outdoor activities already planned.. Treading water at the pool is my favorite. While the kids are playing all around me in the water, a fierce workout is happening just beneath the surface…and they hardly even notice that I am exercising! With older kids we have to sometimes get creative, like I had to do last August, when our entire family went to Maine. My oldest is a college swimmer and needed to get some swimming in. So while he swam across the lake, I paddled next to him in a kayak. It was a great upper body workout and it was fun to share it with him. Pros…Promotes family togetherness. Cons…You have to be fairly spontaneous and flexible, and sometimes it doesn’t work as planned.
4. Take a walk at night. Tell your family that every night while you are on vacation, you are going to walk for 2-3 miles. If they want to join you and are old enough to keep up, let them. You can push little ones in a stroller or baby jogger. Pros…It’s a great way to finish off the day, and you can do it almost anywhere you go. Cons…Sometimes weather doesn’t permit. There are also those nights when you are totally wiped out and can only walk to the bed and go to sleep.
5. Bring free weights with you and do a strength workout when you can. When I am gone for more than four days, it is the lack of strength training I feel the most upon returning home. Bringing your own weights can solve this. Pros…You don’t need a lot of time to do it. About 25 minutes can give you a good all-over quick and dirty strength workout, and kids can be around while you do it. Cons…Weights are heavy and unwieldy and only work if you travel by car (although bands can work too).
6. I know I said five things. This last one is about not fitting exercise in to your family vacation. Sometimes there are those trips when you know you just won’t be able to fit in a workout or when you need a vacation from EVERYTHING, including exercise. For those vacations, leave the running shoes and workout clothes at home. It’s better not to have them sitting in your suitcase, making you feel guilty about not exercising. This is your vacation and you are CHOOSING not to workout!
Do you have any tips for fitting in a workout while on a family vacation? Please share them!