Sports Equipment

HOW TO MANAGE FITNESS WHILE TRAVELING

Fernando Contreras 
1/1/2022
Robbins Madanes Institute Certified: Intervention Coach 
NASM Certified: Personal Trainer

Exercising has been part of my life since I was about 6 years old beginning with karate, and other sports. At the age of 12, I began to train on structured cardio and body weight exercising. At 16, I took on structured weight training and continued my journey in health and fitness. At 18, I began to help others achieve their fitness goals ever since. I've gained tremendous experience throughout the years and continue to help others with health and fitness in their aviation career. 

One of the most popular questions I get is; How do you manage to get a good workout when hotel gyms only have a treadmill or just a few weights? 

TRUST ME, there's ZERO motivation level to exercise when you walk into a hotel gym like that. So instead, I shift my mindset to thinking, "whatever kind of exercise I can do here will benefit my health." I also challenge myself with how creative can I get with limited equipment. In my personal case, with that shift in mindset I am now ready to take on this workout.


Shifting your way of thinking is no easy task, and it doesn't happen overnight. My suggestion is to really think about how highly do you value your fitness contribution to your health. When you think about this you are now working towards something that is important to you. 

Ok, you shifted your mindset. Now what? What if all the exercise I usually do require more weights, or machines, or what if I don't know much about weight training? 

Well let's start off with having weight training experience. There are a variety of modalities you could switch between weight training when there's limited equipment. Then, I'll talk about some modalities that don't require weights. 


The first one is changing your TEMPO, or how slow or fast you perform a repetition. When working with lower weight you can slow down the tempo to get a different kind of muscular adaptation. With slow tempos, you really work on stressing the muscle fibers for a more controlled extension and contraction. You could also change the tempo to a faster one if you want to work on athletic explosive movements like Med-Ball Slams. The faster tempos are usually to achieve muscular power production, and explosiveness, and can be combined with either heavy or lower weight. 

The second aspect you can change is your REST TIME in between sets. This allows you to work on your cardio in between weighted sets. If you decrease the load (how much weight you are lifting), it's beneficial to reduce rest time to avoid longer than necessary time of inactivity in between the intervals of weighted sets. You want to give your body just the right amount of time to replenish energy based on how intense the repetitions are. So, if you do more weight, it's more beneficial to increase the amount of rest time in between sets to allow your body to replenish energy and hit the next set.  

A third aspect you can change is to work on SYNERGIST MUSCLES. These are the smaller muscles that provide stability for your larger muscles and help with posture. Some example of these muscles are; leg adductor complex (inner thighs), glute medius, supra and infraspinatus (part of the shoulder complex), obliques, lower trapezoid, and the list goes on. The objective is that some of these supportive muscles don't require much weight to strengthen and let them do their job. With lower weights available on the road, It's advantageous to take the time to work on these muscles, so that when you get back to your regular gym you can progress with heavier weight and better equipment. 


A fourth aspect is to work on INTERVAL CARDIO TRAINING. This can be accomplished on either a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical (typical hotel gym equipment). Engage in some interval training by changing intensities in ratios. Let's use treadmill running as an example. After a proper warmup you can increase and decrease intensity in a 60:30 ratio. Meaning a less intense jog for 60 seconds, and increase intensity to running for 30 seconds. You can do this in amount of sets, if you'd like, or for an amount of total time. Remember you can always change the duration of time and intensity according to your cardiovascular fitness.

Another way to engage in this kind of interval training is to do CIRCUIT TRAINING. In this kind of training, you basically set up stations of what exercises you should do, and the duration at each station (time or amount of repetitions). Some of this training can get pretty intense and sometimes you may want to push past your limits to finish the circuit. So, it's important to listen to your body and find a balance of how hard to push without overdoing it. Training SMART is just as good, if not better, than training HARD.  

Finally, I have one more aspect of training for this article in which you can do if your hotel gym isn't at all good. An underrated form of exercise is FLEXIBILITY and MOBILITY. Unless, you are in athletic training, it's importance is not talked about much. Let me tell you that flexibility and mobility is life changing!! First and foremost, flexibility is super important for injury prevention, and a pre-requisite for mobility. Due to the crew-member dynamic lifestyle between sitting and walking, our body can get full of muscle imbalances. This means some muscles have to compensate for others that are tight, or weak, to protect the spine and bones. This causes a joint to not be at its optimal position for movement efficiency. Imbalance can be the beginning for muscular pain and complications. Since our body is able to adapt (which that is phenomenal thing, when it's a correct adaptation) it will find a way to continue operating with that imbalance and it will do whatever is necessary to protect the spine. Over time, and continued repetition, we adapt and subconsciously live with that muscular imbalance which later on can create an injury. So, work on that flexibility to reduce tightness in overactive muscles, and allow free movement of your body extremities. Increased flexibility also increases Range Of Motion (ROM) and performing weight training with increased ROM allows deeper strengthening throughout a muscle and its movement. 

So there you have some ways on how you can still do some fitness to benefit your health in a "not so great" hotel gym. Remember, it all starts with that mindset change and the rest is your creativity and your choice !