Abs On The Go

Whether it’s for business or pleasure, taking a trip is always a nice way to interrupt your daily routine. Despite the fact that this is often an invited interruption, it frequently has a negative effect on those routines that can ill-afford to be interrupted. I’m talking diet and exercise!

Frequent travelers like me can be hard pressed to find a decent place to work out. We are bound by the descriptive abilities of the person that wrote the copy for the website, romanticizing the hotel’s exercise facility to seem more like the Roman Coliseum than the windowless, undersized, under-ventilated storage space for under-maintained equipment that it actually is.

I’ve known some folks to go to great extremes to get in their workout while traveling, opting to jog through snowy streets, or risk life and limb in sketchy neighborhoods, or picking a hotel based on the incredibly exaggerated account of its fitness facility. In fact, I knew a guy that paid for memberships at multiple fitness clubs to ensure that he would have a place to exercise no matter where his travels took him. You might say that I know him better than I know anybody else…

Let’s face it. We could fill a hotel with the number of excuses we could come up with to explain why we can’t get a quality workout while on the road. However, we would be overlooking two truths in the process. One, we have become exercise snobs. Just as we are appalled at the notion of walking over to the television to change the channel (choosing instead to search the entire house for the remote), we scoff at the notion of using any non-state of the art machine for peak performance cardio workouts.

Very few of us are actually training for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, so being without the rock-climber or elliptical/cross-country-skiing combo machines that we use at our home gyms for a couple of days won’t seal our fate as one of the guys on the lower steps that has to listen as the East German national anthem is played.

Secondly, we learned all we ever needed to know about exercise back in grade school P.E. Calisthenics are the best workout.

Sure, they aren’t sexy and don’t make you look as cool as the machine that lets you pedal with your hands instead of your feet. And there’s no place to plug in your headphones so that you can watch AND listen to the endless loop of “breaking news” that CNN pumps across the monitors. Yet, they are as effective as they ever were. What’s more, they are easily done anywhere. And I do mean ANYWHERE! I’ve actually seen people dressed for business meetings drop down and do a quick 20 push-ups while waiting for a flight, and another doing some basic yoga positions while waiting to board a ferry across the river…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So, I stumbled upon this epiphany…er, uh, I mean THAT GUY I KNEW, had this epiphany and cancelled the extra gym memberships last year, opting instead for the old school workout.

Here are a few sure-fire ways to maintain fitness while out of your element:

Abdominal workout. Whether you prefer Pilates, crave crunches or lust for leg lifts, all are quite easily done immediately after rolling out of bed in your hotel room. Since this is traditionally my problem area (I neither like the look of my non-six-pack, nor do I ever look forward to doing ab-work), I always do these first. Before I wash my face, or brush my teeth, I usually flip on the “Today Show” and do