Fitness Tips From Bali: Part 1

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Fitness Tips From Bali

Maintaining Fitness and Igniting Creativity

I really do love traveling - seeing new places, immersing myself in different cultures, and stepping outside of my comfort zone. But as with any adventure, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Some aspects of travel are challenging. Setting aside the money and time for a nearly month long vacation wasn’t easy; spending multiple days in airports and on airplanes is not my idea of fun; and I miss snuggling with my cat. But most of all, I have a hard time taking extended vacations because it seriously interferes with my training regimen. There’s so much else to do and many vacation destinations are not ideal training grounds. On my recent trip to Bali, Indonesia, it was no different. The gym options are pretty bleak and the running routes are (mostly) even worse, plus we averaged a half marathon per day of walking, so there was less time and energy for formal training. I managed to get to the gym 5 times in 24 days. Wow! I think it’s been a few years since my training frequency dropped that low.

You know what the crazy thing is though? I learned a lot in those 5 sessions. I knew at the beginning of the trip that I’d have to do a totally different workout regimen if I wanted to maintain my fitness during my month away from home. And boy did it work! Almost every single exercise I did on vacation was something I don’t usually do, with each session designed to be as efficient as possible. Not only did I manage to maintain my strength and physique, I even managed to add a little size to my upper back and eliminate some lingering lower back tightness. That I wasn’t expecting. There is certainly something to be said for the power of a novel training stimulus, but also in the creativity that stems from constraints. Knowing that I would only have a few hours all month long to lift, I had to rethink my routine and focus on maximizing my efficiency in the gym. Since I usually have a flexible schedule, that is not usually a big concern of mine; I don’t usually mind spending 2-3 hours in the gym while catching up on emails between sets, so this new constraint forced me to think in a new way. I didn’t do my “favorites” or try to progress the lifts for which I’d invented arbitrary goals throughout the training process; instead, I refocused on my deeper goals and thought about how to do it differently.

When we have an open ended schedule, or when we can choose to do something however we think is best, that apparent freedom can actually be limiting. It's all too easy to get caught up in doing things they we've always done them, until something FORCES us to change our approach. If you want a challenge, try imposing some constraints on yourself - how could I do this in less time? What if I didn’t have a barbell? Could I make this into an effective partner workout? Could I cook this dinner without using the stove? Challenge yourself and see what you come up with. You might accidentally stumble upon a better way of doing things, or simply find some new tools for your toolbox.

After 2 long days of travel, I'm finally home. Am I excited to get back to my regular routine? Absolutely. But I have a lot of new ideas that I’ll be implementing in my own workouts. And maybe in yours too!

Word of advice to those who travel or occasionally get super busy: understand that training to maintain your fitness is totally different than trying to build it. If you know don't have the time or energy to improve, don't kid yourself and try to squeeze in occasional sessions with sub-optimal nutrition and recovery while missing half the program. Instead, tell your coach about your limited time & resources and have them develop a maintenance program - something scaled WAY back that still hits the necessary stressors when they need to be hit. Doing all 3 sessions in a week is a whole lot better than only doing 3 out of 7, so set yourself up for success by planning on 3 sessions a week from the beginning (or whatever that means for you).

Interested in what my workouts were? My upcoming article “Fitness Tips From Indonesia: Part 2” will cover all of that and more!

Alec BlenisComment