Let’s face it working out probably isn’t at the top of your list of things to do when travelling abroad. Most of us want nothing more than to (over) indulge in the local cuisine, soak up the rays on the beach and get lost in a good book while lounging by the pool. The only time we want to hear the word ‘work’ when we’re abroad is when it’s followed by ‘on your tan’.
But what if maintaining your health and fitness regime is something you’re serious about? I asked Ken Simpson, amateur CrossFit competitor and all-around outdoorsman, for his tips for keeping fit while travelling. Originally from Chilliwack, BC, Ken travels for 36+ weeks a year as a European Trip Manager for Contiki the original travel company for 18-35-year-olds.
On his training regimen while on the road
I keep things simple and try to create a habit. I do a simple complex of three bodyweight exercises, six days a week. Start with 10 reps each of:
- Military style push ups
- Strict sit-ups
- Body weight squats
Gradually increase the number of reps by one per day. I do this in the morning after about 4-5 minutes of stretching. Starting low and increasing slowly allows you to focus on proper form with no cheating. Once you get to the 30+ rep stage, you can start to split into sets of 10-10-10 and so on. Even at 100+ reps, the work out is only 7-10 minutes.
On eating as clean as possible when travelling in Europe
When it comes to clean eating, Europe is a thousand times easier than anywhere in North America. Food in Europe is of a higher quality, healthier, and fresher than North American restaurant food. Spain, France, Italy, and the Germanic countries have unbelievably delicious and healthy options everywhere. The challenge in Europe isn’t to find healthy food but to avoid indulging in countless tasty, yet not as healthy, options. Try to opt for vegetable and fish dishes while on the road. Everything is very fresh and expertly prepared. Even at the service stations, more often than not, the food is cooked to order by a chef right in front of you.
On European ‘gym culture’
The trick in Europe is not to say you’re there as a tourist; saying that you’re “new in town” and “want to give the gym a try” will nine out of ten times get you a free trial pass/class. The gyms in large European cities are more welcoming than in Canada. The only difficulty you may run into is when it comes to small or rural places. If you’re on a Contiki adventure and you’re in a single place longer than just a few days, ask your Trip Manager (me, if you’re travelling on one of my trips) where to find the best running clubs or gyms in the area.
One thing to keep in mind: a real traveller wants to see a place, not just go to it. In so many European destinations, walking from one place to another will always be faster than public transport in terms of shorter journeys. By walking across a city or small town, you get to kill two birds with one stone: a great cardio and leg conditioning day while still being able to immerse yourself in the destination.
So there you have it. Next time you travel why not try a simple hotel room workout? Or if you’re feeling brave, act like a local and bag yourself a free gym pass. As for sampling the local cuisine, rest assured that you’ll be able to choose delicious, healthy, fresh food that will expand your palate, not your waistline.