Staying fit on vacation - JanessaMann.com

How to Stay Active on Vacation

Staying Fit on Vacation - JanessaMann.com

If you’re going away for a quick weekend trip, there’s no need to stress about getting a workout in, especially if it’ll require you to pack too many extra things. But if you’re gone for a week or more, and are used to training at least a few times a week, you’ll want to make sure you maintain a certain level of exercise, especially if you have any physio to do!

This summer, my husband and I traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam for a month! (It was such a great trip, and I hope to post more about it soon!) I’m used to 5 days a week of powerlifting training, a HIIT/turf day, and whatever running, yoga, or fun activity like hiking I want to throw in there. I wanted to maintain a certain level of fitness, while still being able to enjoy our vacation, so I prepared carefully.

Instead of training 5+ days a week, we tried to get to the gym twice a week, be active on our exploring days, and I made sure to hit my physio and core workouts in the hostels using resistance bands. I also found that trying all the crazy gyms in Southeast Asia was a fun way to experience the local culture!

Staying fit on vacation - JanessaMann.com

How to Plan:

  1. What are your favourite activities? Make sure you have basic gear that could work for that, especially sneakers. There are rock-climbing gyms, spin studios, yoga studios, everything, everywhere.
  2. Find the spots. If you can’t miss spin classes, check out a studio near your accommodations to see the prices. I researched gyms that we could walk to from our hostels so we’d be prepared, and it was in the budget.
  3. Plan your workout schedule. If you’re going to be lounging on the beach in the afternoon, you could hit the gym in the morning. If you’re going to be running around all day, focus on exploring.
  4. Take advantage of your surroundings. One morning when we were on the beaches of Koh Samui, we did sprints and a HIIT workout. It was such a cool experience with that view! If you have a good route nearby, go for a run!

This also includes knowing what sort of places near you have healthier options. We had to eat a lot of fried noodles and rice, no fresh vegetables (to protect ourselves from the Delhi belly), and not enough protein. I lost a few pounds on the trip with all the walking and the lowered caloric intake, but I would have liked to have budgeted for some smoothie bowls every once in a while.

 

What I Brought:

  • At least one workout outfit, as well as a bathing suit I could train in
  • Sneakers (I chose my Sketchers that I can squat in or run if necessary, but they’re old so I wouldn’t mind if they got wrecked, unlike my training shoes)
  • Hip circle/resistance band
  • Long resistance band with handles

We did carry-on only, so I could only pack things that could serve multiple purposes. A skipping rope would also be useful if you’re worried about getting in cardio. If you have a checked bag, you could even bring ankle weights.

Simple Hotel Room Workout:

  • McGill Big 3 (key for building a strong core, especially for those with back injuries)
  • Banded glute bridges
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Deadlifts and squats with the band under your feet for resistance
  • Burpees
  • Rows with the band
  • Flys with the band

Good luck on your next trip!!!


Something extra! The gyms we visited:

Chiang Mai, Thailand – Exclusive Fitness Training – 200 baht

  • This gym was a walk from my uncle’s house, but clean, small, and decent equipment. The floors were weirdly padded, so it was hard to get a grip while benching or squatting. As expected, hard to find plates, but still had a good sweat. WOW, did we sweat.

Siem Reap, Cambodia – Angkor Muscle Gym – $1 USD

  • Definitely our favourite gym! It was a 3 minute walk from our hostel, which was fantastic- we could rush right home to the pool! Open gym (see above, left) with lots of bodybuilding equipment, and benches. We felt very comfortable here, despite being the only tourists. You can even buy cheap big water bottles and protein shakes.

Hanoi, Vietnam – X-Men Fitness ~$1 USD

  • I liked this gym (above, right) because I was close to hitting a PR on squats, but it wasn’t actually that great. Same weirdly padded floor, the bars were maybe 10 kgs? and the squat rack had a weird bar with a metal bar pad on it… Felt comfortable taking my shirt off, since the Vietnamese women were doing it, and enjoyed the sweat I got.

Re-learning how to run – AGAIN

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Some of you may not find running once a week (or more) in 2018 impressive, especially since my max has been 5k. For me, it’s been a show of strength, both physically and emotionally.

Until grade 8, I thought I wasn’t an athlete. I had been told by classmates for too many years that since I had asthma, I couldn’t do sports. No teacher built up my confidence about team sports, so I still avoid them. School also doesn’t support the types of athleticism I loved (ballet, downhill skiing, and outdoor sports like hiking and canoeing).

In grade 8, my gym teacher looked at me and said, “Janessa, you can run.” So I did.

Every gym class in the spring we did laps outside, and I kept up with the boys who were in competitive soccer. It was the best feeling, especially when I won 400m or 800m sprints. In grade 9, I got to try hurdles. It felt like I was flying. From then on, whenever I’d be stressed, Mom would tell me to put my running shoes on, and I got that runner’s high. It was the first time that I was proud of my “thicc” legs. I began to regularly run 5ks, and loved it.

When I was 19, I was an idiot and slipped my L4-L5 disc lifting canoes. Since then I spent hours doing physio, crying, gained weight, went through a severe depression, and lost running- one of my favourite ways to de-stress. I had an amazing physiotherapist during my undergrad, who focused on getting me strong enough to re-learn how to run, but I didn’t take it to heart. I would skip working on core, and every time I’d run, I’d cry. I wasn’t running as fast or as hard as I wanted to, and some days I’d get 2k in and my back would hurt.

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I stopped for a long time, and focused on powerlifting. During my first year of my Master’s program, I realized that I was lacking in core strength that was preventing me from getting my lifts heavier. I started researching what was the best for core strength for powerlifters, and got strong at that. No more low-back pain.

I had a single, scary thought in fall 2017.

I wanted to run again.

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I set myself a goal of re-learning how to run in 2018. I had to run at least once a week, even if it was -20*C outside, no matter what distance worked for me. I also signed up for a MEC fun run April 15.

Progress was slow. I ran 7km/h, it took me weeks to get up to 5 k, and I still can’t run 5k unbroken. I didn’t get that joy when I put my running shoes on, it was just to prepare myself for the race, and because I wanted that runner’s identity back.

Things changed on April 7 when I decided that instead of running a 5k, I wanted to do sprints. They were hard. It hurt so much the next day. Bu

 I felt like I was flying again. I cried on the jog home.

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The next Tuesday, April 10, I went for a lunchtime 5k. I ran 2.5k unbroken, faster than 6km/h. I enjoyed it.

Today, Sunday, April 15, Nic and I ran a 5k MEC Race. It was very, very windy and cold, but it was my first time running 5k unbroken in years. I’m super proud that I did it in 29 minutes, and can’t wait to get down to 25min. I definitely thought I was going to pass out the last km, so I’m very thankful that Nic ran beside me the whole way to keep me going faster, and kept encouraging me. (Sorry you didn’t get a great time 😉 )

Tips for re-learning a sport:

  • You might not be the same athlete you were before your injury. That’s okay. You probably don’t even remember how hard it was to get to the level you were before. You have a second chance to be good at the sport, with more information about how to do it safely. Be humble about it. We all start somewhere.
  • Never stop your physio. Ever. Incorporate it as much as possible. I have to do core bracing, so I do that as I’m going to sleep. I make sure that my core exercises are at the end of every powerlifting session.
  • Warm up properly. I have some weird stretches to do before my lifting sessions, and that’s great. Don’t be embarrassed. My only excuse is when I’m panicked to find a squat rack 😉
  • Surround yourself with knowledgeable people. My chiropractor knows what’s wrong with me right away, and is a runner, so she has lots of great suggestions.  Ask lots of questions of people who are better at the sport than you are. I send my lifting videos to a friend, and post them on my public Instagram.
  •  Take time to recover, and vary your activities and intensities. While I was training for this race, I’d run home 5k at a slower pace, and do 2.5-3.5k runs at a faster pace. I also train at the gym 4 days a week, so my legs can get banged up. Lots of epsom salt baths, yoga, and foam rolling. When you’re starting over you need to make sure you take care of yourself.

Good luck!

We can do it!!