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How to keep up a workout routine when you travel
Photos: Courtesy of Ryan McCann
In Transit

How to actually keep up your workout routine when you’re traveling

Go on, be *that* person.

by Rebecca Willa Davis | 07.30.2018

Ask Ryan McCann and he’ll tell you that he’s all about routine. The New York City-based run coach, personal trainer, and founder of the meditation-movement hybrid group Cool Fit Club tells his clients and students time and time again that the best thing they can do is move their bodies regularly.

So what happens when they travel?

“I do think it’s tough for people to do anything with a group, and it’s certainly harder to do that when you’re in a foreign place,” he admits, before adding, “but yeah, it’s really important to do it every day and really get it in. You have it in you, it’s just about no excuses and hard work.”

“You have it in you, it’s just about no excuses and hard work.”

If that’s not exactly the answer you were hoping for—especially when you’re a few margs deep hanging by the pool in Tulum, or stuck in an all-day work conference in the middle of nowhere (with a hotel gym that makes your tiny apartment look spacious)—you’re not totally out of luck.

In fact, McCann believes that there are ways to set yourself up so that you can stay active, no matter where in the world you are (or how over-the-top indulgent your trip may be—which, BTW, no shade).

After all, if “you can keep up your routine at home, where you do most of your work and where the stress is,” reasons McCann, then your mellow vacay spot might actually be the ideal place to really focus on yourself and your practice.

Here’s how to make it happen—no portable trainer necessary.

McCann counts hiking and swimming as a workout, FYI.

Do some prep work

Just like you put together a packing list before a trip (okay, maybe even if it’s only in your head), there are a few ways you can prep your routine for when you’re on the road. For one, identify the parts of your workout that travel well. All about logging your miles or stretching in pigeon? Pack your running shoes or a mat and you can do it anywhere. “It sounds silly, but find a practice that you can have access to anywhere,” McCann says. It might not be the main thing you do at home, but you’ll feel comfortable enough to do it when you’re away.

Obsessed with your local boutique fitness instructor? Check to see if they offer streaming classes—or do some research and find a similar studio at your destination. (Cough, Glassy guides, cough.) “Engage folks in whatever city you’ll be in beforehand and during to know what’s going on there,” he suggests. “Know what you’re working with.”

Keep it simple

McCann recently traveled to Texas, where he had an aha moment about his own on-the-road workouts: “I keep it very simple—it’s really the same kind of routine or practice wherever I am,” he says. “So stick to what you know and what you practice.”

That means you don’t need to introduce, say, a Megaformer workout when you’re in Los Angeles if you’re more of a run-along-the-beach kind of person. “There’s so much beauty and joy that can be found in the things that we just do every day that I take for granted sometimes. So when I go away, then I really just lean into it.”

Be about the daily

“The daily practice is important,” McCann notes (sorry!). “I know time is short and schedules can be crazy, but if we’re talking even just 5, 10 minutes in a 24-hour day, that’s a drop in the bucket.” Whether it’s squeezing in a breathwork session or a few sun salutations, get your body moving at some point on the daily.

“It’s the oxygen mask theory—it could not be more important,” he adds, referencing that adage of taking care of yourself before you can take care of others. Let’s be honest: You’ll be a way better travel buddy if you can take a quickie for yourself.

McCann’s a big fan of traveling to places that make you *want* to be active.

Set the alarm

If you find it hard to even carve out 20 minutes once your day is in full swing (there are books to read, naps to take, guac to eat, museums to visit, songs to dance to…), then be that person who sets an alarm 30 minutes before you’d want to be waking up, so you can get your workout out of the way.

“Maybe that’s the best tip: I wake up early and I take care of my business—you never have time when everyone else is kicking it,” says McCann. “Then I can go through my day and feel really good about it.” And really, is there anything better than feeling a sense of accomplishment before you’ve even torn into breakfast while on vacation?

Embrace working out anywhere

You gotta do what you gotta do—and sometimes that means getting your squats in when you’re at the airport. It might be up there with flight delays in terms of things you’d most like to have happen in a terminal, but McCann urges you to get over the self-consciousness. “Airport time is a great time for me to do my practice, because nobody knows me!”

Plus, there are always moves you can do that are pretty subtle and won’t catch too many eyes—even if you’re doing them at your seat or in the back of the airplane (as long as you check with your flight attendant first).

Make the destination the workout

Maybe it’s a triathlon in an epic location, or perhaps a Wanderlust festival you’ve been saving up for. Whatever it is, making movement the point of your vacation is an easy way to keep up your routine when you’re away from home.

And yes, it’s the sort of motivation that even personal trainers sometimes need. “I’ve got my eyes on this marathon in Cork City—I’m really excited about that,” McCann admits. “I’m trying to get a bunch of people on board!”

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