One of the greatest fitness challenges is staying on your game when your life requires lots of travel.
Since Mark Fisher Fitness’ birth, we’ve worked with Ninjas who are on the road a lot. Many of our professional theater Ninjas go on the road in a touring show for a year or more. They may have schedules that require them to live almost exclusively in hotels, often changing cities every week. And many of our executive Ninjas have travel schedules that are just as grueling, often times on the road for a third of the year or more.
You see, I know the temptation of fried appetizers ordered at a business dinner. I know firsthand the challenges of sleeping in random hotel rooms in different time zones. I know how drinks can get out of hand with colleagues and friends you only see a few times a year. I know the horrors and agonies of finding anything remotely healthy and appetizing at most airports.
Fit pros are great at giving you advice when you have lots of discipline AND a very standard day. But for busy people, much of this advice falls apart when we lose our schedule, our kitchen, and our routines.
In this article, I’m going to show you exactly how to stay fit while on the road.
Tip #1: Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good
You will sometimes find yourself at the airport and realize almost everything is closed and your only options are not the best for your health and hotness.
Your client may want to take you to this really over-the-top Mexican place because you absolutely must try the beef lard and cream cheese tacos. (btw that’s not really a thing, but maybe it should be??)
Sometimes you have to make hard calls about getting up to train or getting a bit extra sleep when jet lag is kicking your ass.
And guess what? It’s ok. It’s all ok. You’re ok. It’s going to be alright.
Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. Do your best to plan for the inevitable slings and arrows, and then chill out. If we strive for perfection when there are so many variables out of our hands, we’re setting ourselves up for suffering and a crash. Our goal isn’t perfection. Our goal is our personal best.
Tip #2: Focus on a few anchor habits that YOU control
This makes it all the more important to focus on the core habits you have total control over. For instance, you can use some of the strategies from Tip #5 to improve the quality of your sleep. But all you can truly control is leaving dinner early enough to make sure you have a sufficient number of hours in bed.
While you may not have access to a fully equipped gym, you can commit to staying active. Perhaps it won’t be your usual program, but you can certainly find ways to get some exercise even if it means training in your hotel room or working with a subpar hotel gym.
You can commit to bringing a quality greens formula like Athletic Greens. (I take that shit EVERY. DAY.) You can take your daily supplements. You can drink your water. And you can still get in your meditation.
Since so much will fundamentally be out of your control, it’s important to really nail the things that you can control.
Not only will this serve your health and fitness itself, it’s an important piece of psychological well-being.
Tip #3: Do some research in advance to plan out your training
There are two pieces you need to consider when thinking about planning your training.
First of all, you need to think realistically about your schedule. Even on the road, a large part of fitness success hangs on your ability to plan effectively. As always, you’ll need to balance your sleep with training. But if you don’t thoughtfully schedule your personal exercise time around the work demands, you’ll find your whole day can get quickly eaten up.
And sometimes, you’ll be left with doing some bodyweight training in your hotel room. Guess what? This is no problem! One of the best ways to make sure you keep up with your fitness is relying on intense, 15-minute bodyweight only workouts in your hotel room. You may not have the time or the facility for a full weight training session, but these short targeted workouts can be wildly effective in keeping you in good shape on the road.
And if you’re looking for some options, you can get 3 FREE streaming workouts HERE. For those who travel a lot, you can access a whole library of short, streaming bodyweight only workouts at MyBroadwayBody.com.
Lastly, based on where your travel has taken you, let’s not forget the value of being active outside. Going for a run or a long walk can be an amazing way to really get the feel of a new city. Some of the best memories of my life are going for runs in Hyde Park in London, Castle Park in Nice, and running through the streets of Florence with my wife.
While you may not be able to do your “usual” fitness routine, variety is the spice of fitness. Use the opportunity to try out novel ways of exercising and see the world!
Tip #4: Do some research in advance to plan out your nutrition
If there’s any place where perfectionism can trip you up, it’s nutrition on the road.
While focusing on protein and veggies is a good start, don’t be afraid to be annoying by making some requests in regards to preparation. If you get the “protein and veggie” Cobb salad off the menu, you will likely eat 1,500 calories on a meal that was just ok. Boooooo!
Any restaurant is happy to offer you grilled protein and steamed veggies if you ask. You should also be mindful of sauces, dressings, and marinades. Whenever possible, ask to get that shit on the side.
Based on the type of travel, the other side of the coin is strategically choosing your “fuck off” meals. Now how exactly fuck off will your fuck offery be? That is the question. And it will depend on your current fitness goals, the length of the trip, the purpose of the trip (work or pleasure), the destination and its cuisine, and the meal in question.
Part of the joy of travel (and life!!) is great meals. Particularly when breaking bread with friends and loved ones. Thoughtful indulgence can be great, we just want to plan it out and really enjoy it, not simply go YOLO with every meal.
Also… let’s talk about booze.
While your own approach to booze on the road will be individual, it’s important to remember that booze adds up. While no one loves a bottle of wine more than I do, this too needs to be considered as we balance our nutrition indulgences on the road. A good rule here may be to let yourself have drinks only at dinner and only every other night.
Unless you’re at a wedding at an all-inclusive… in that case, you may wind up doing shit like this:
Lastly, we must plan in advance for things to go awry. This goes double for travel days. Since you will virtually never find anything healthy/yummy in the airport, stock up in advance on snacks that serve your goals (Quest bars, fruit, etc.). Another one of my “rules” is not buying food in airports on work trips.
And don’t forget to hydrate when flying! I like to fill up my 24-ounce water bottle when I get in the cab to the airport, then drink it before I get to security. Once I’m through security, the first thing I do is fill it back up at a water fountain.
Tip #5: Bring a sleep routine
Finally, one of our biggest challenges on the road will be sleep.
Your best bet here is to create a portable sleep routine.
While you can’t control your bed and may not be able to control your schedule, you can still implement some of your “sleep hygiene” routine on the road.
For instance, I think one of the most undervalued benefits of a white noise app on your phone is that you can keep it consistent when travelling. Sure, it’s great for blocking out ambient noise, but over time you can condition yourself to associate that sound with shutting down the body and going to sleep.
In addition to the white noise, you’ll do well to cultivate other sleep rituals that you can take with you on the road. For many people, reading a physical book before bed can be a great bedtime ritual. A shower or gentle stretching may work well for others.
And while most hotels have serious blackout curtains, you may want to invest in an eyemask. I’m also unashamed to say I genuinely love a good lavender spray.
While you can’t control the “touch” element in your random hotel bed, you can control “sight,” “sound,” and “smell” to keep some consistency in your sleep ritual.
Happy Traveling, Bitches!
Travel is one of life’s great pleasures. You may occasionally say, “Fuck it! I’m on vacation.” And guess what? That’s a valid life choice. We just want to keep it real if you travel a lot and every time you leave town you throw all your fitness out the window.
As always, your goal is never to live the life of a monk. You simply want to balance “Long Term You” with “Short Term You.” By applying these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to having your morning high intensity workout and eating your steak dinner too.
Godspeed, dear Ninja!