Nothing trips up a solid streak of exercise like a mid-week business trip. Treacherous commutes, all-you-can-eat conference buffets, long hours and little free time—it’s a recipe for disaster for any health-minded road warrior.
But business travel doesn’t have to compromise your personal fitness commitments. A healthy lifestyle isn’t confined to the 330 area code, after all, so you should plan accordingly. Here are eight tips to remember along the way:
1. Lift before you leave
Get your workout in before you take off. Flights and long road trips are more exhausting than you might think, and it’s unlikely you’ll be hitting the gym immediately after you check in to your hotel.
2. Take your workout with you
You take the time and effort to pack your business suits, ties and dress socks. Do you put as much thought into packing your running shoes, Under Armor tees and mesh shorts? Make room in your suitcase for these and other key items that will allow you to take your workout with you. Obviously you won’t be able to bring the free weights or exercise equipment (that’s what hotel fitness centers are for), but you can always snag that workout DVD and armband for your iPod. If nothing else, packing these items will remind you of your commitments when you’re sitting in your hotel room late at night after a long day of meetings.
3. Borrow what you forget to bring
Forgot your workout socks? Call down to the front desk and see if they can bring you replacements. Depending on the quality of the hotel, you’ll be surprised what a helpful concierge or front-desk clerk can offer. The Westin hotel chain, for example, provides guests with complimentary New Balance footwear (with fresh insoles), apparel, accessories and other equipment.
4. Hitting the hotel gym? Avoid the morning rush
Most hotel fitness centers hit peak capacity before their business guests head out for the day. Avoid the hours of 5:30-8:00 a.m. if possible. Either set aside time later in the day or head outside for a jog amid new surroundings.
5. Watch out for the extra fees
Some hotels charge a fitness fee that can run as high as $40 a day. Don’t get discourage if your per diem doesn’t cover such expenses. Be flexible. Either come armed with a workout DVD, an easy-to-remember home fitness routine or head outside for a run. Hotels can’t charge you for enjoying the fresh outdoors.
6. Ask the concierge
Some hotels have partnerships with local health clubs or other outdoor attractions. Never hesitate to ask the concierge for some direction. If nothing else, he or she should be able to suggest a safe running route that highlights some of the local attractions, depending on the destination.
7. Watch what you eat
Client dinners, corporate cocktail parties, conference buffets—all those over-portioned eating frenzies might keep your return flight grounded. Approach these meals as you do the rest of your workout regimen—with a plan. Skip the bread. Watch your portions. Don’t feel the need to keep a beer-for-beer pace with your clients. And for heaven’s sake, bring a healthy snack to the airport. A bag of almonds or piece of fruit is inevitably a better option than the overpriced garbage they sell at most travel hub food outlets.
8. Don’t compromise
The travel schedule is typically more hectic than the day-to-day routine at the office, but you should never compromise your physical well being just because you’re on the road. Just as you schedule meetings and sales visits, set aside an hour—our even just 30 minutes—each day to get some exercise. Don’t view it as time lost or wasted. Odds are the workout will give you a much-needed jolt of energy to keep you focused and on the move.