Do Not Take a Vacation From Fitness While You Are on Vacation

Ahhhh…. your vacation has finally arrived. Are you lounging in a hammock under a palm tree sipping a pina colada?  Or sampling all the pasta in Rome and croissants in Paris?  Or are you on a “stay-cation” at the local amusement park munching on fries and cotton candy?  Whatever your vacation style, summer can pack on a few extra pounds despite an increase in outdoor activity.

Don’t forget how easy and enjoyable it is to work fitness into your vacation routine. For starters, most vacation destinations offer a myriad of outdoor sports.  You can enjoy all the benefits of cardio while having fun at the same time. Challenge your spouse or partner to a vigorous tennis match or your friends to a volleyball tournament. Swim in the pool, jog on the beach, hike in the woods— or play an old fashioned game of tag.  Just keep moving and remember sun safety. (Always wear sunscreen, stay hydrated and don’t exercise in extreme heat or humidity.) 

But what about strength training, toning and flexibility?  Granted there is no airline dispensation for packing your free weights in your luggage. But did you know there are countless exercises you can do with virtually no equipment?  The routine below will take about 25-30 minutes doing one set of each exercise. For more of a challenge (and to address that extra scoop of rocky road ice cream), do it twice. Repeat it two to three times a week (combined with the cardio suggestions above) and your skinny jeans should still fit when you get home.

Vacation Routine:

Warm-up (3~5 minutes):  march in place, jog at a steady pace or do jumping jacks.
Get extra credit for: elbow to knee raise—start by raising your hands over your head, bring your left elbow down as your right knee raises up to meet it, do the same on the other side, repeating for a total of 10 sets on each side.

Push-ups:  standard push-ups in the plank position or on your knees—try for 10~15.
For extra credit:  narrow the span of your arms so that your hands are close to your shoulders when in the down position; this targets your triceps more.

Chair dips:  (use a heavy, sturdy arm chair), start with your feet hip-width apart and bend down like you would be sitting in the chair except you’re in front of it, rest your palms on the seat portion of the chair with your fingers pointing toward your body, lower your bottom toward the floor and push yourself back up using your arms, do up to 10 reps.
For extra credit:  do another set but this time kick one leg out at a time as you lower down, do 5 on each side.

Bicep curls:  find something to give yourself resistance such as heavy soup cans or your empty suitcase, do a standard bicep curl--12~15 on each side with your arms out in front of you; do a second set with your elbow glued to your waist and your arms out to the side.
For extra credit:  go back to the original position of arms in front on your body, step forward with the same leg as the arm you are working and kneel down being careful not to let your knee extend over your toes, as you rise up out of the lunge  curl your bicep, do 10 very slowly on each side.

Squat:  start with your legs hip-width apart, hands clasped in front of you and abs pulling in, bend your knees and lower your bottom as if you were sitting in an imaginary chair, when you rise back up extend your arms straight out in front of you, do 10~12 reps, but on the last one hold in the down position for a count of 10.
For extra credit:  squat as above but with your arms by your sides, as you rise up kick one leg out to the side with your foot flexed and lift that arm, squat back down and repeat with the other leg, do 5~6 on each side.

Plié:  stand with your legs a little more than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out to the side, arms can be by your side or for extra arm work, hold them out to the side;  lower your seat toward the floor stopping at knee level, make sure your knees do not extend over the toes; work up to 12~15 repetitions.
For extra credit:  repeat as above but this time you are raised up on your toes; for the last repetition, do 5~6 extra pulses half-way and up starting from the down position so you are using half the range of motion.

Fire hydrants (with extension):  start down on the floor on your hands and knees, keeping your right leg bent lift your knee to the side until is it at the same level as your hip, extend your foot forward (so that your leg is still in the lifted position) but straight out to the side, bend the knee back in and return to the starting position; do 10~12 on the right—then repeat on the left.
For extra credit:  use the same starting position, keeping your leg still behind you with the knee bent, lift one leg up so that the sole of your foot is facing the ceiling, while in this raised position straighten your leg then bend the knee back in; do 10~12 on each side.

Calf raises: stand with your feet hip–width apart, arms out to the side for balance if you need it; rise up on your toes, count slowly 2 counts, and lower; do 10 reps with your toes straight ahead, 10 with your toes pointed out to the side and 10 with your toes pointed in toward each other.
For extra credit:  end with a few balance building moves—start in the position with your heels together and toes apart, raise up on your toes—look to the left—look to the right—look straight ahead, then lower down; repeat but start the second set looking to the right first; do 2 more sets.


Plank: start in the straight leg push-up position, either supporting yourself with your hands under your shoulders or on both forearms with your elbows directly under your shoulders, now hold for a slow count of 30; rest your knees down and repeat—this time try for 5 more seconds, give it one more try attempting to hold up to 40 or 45 seconds.
For extra credit: using the straight leg/straight arm starting position twist your body toward your left (lifting your right side toward the ceiling) and reach your right arm up; lower the right arm back to the floor and repeat on the other side, work up to 5~6 reps on each side.

Toe touch abs: lie on your back and bring your knees into your chest in a table-top position, hands clasped behind your head, raise your head neck and shoulders up off the floor, keeping your knees bent slowly (with control) lower the right foot toward the floor so your toes almost touch the floor, bring it back to table-top and repeat with the left leg, aim for a total of 20 or more reps.
For extra credit:  repeat as above but add a twist of the upper torso so that your elbow is twisting toward the leg that is still in table top—similar to a bicycle exercise but a little bit harder.


Superman:  start down on the floor on your hands and knees, hands supporting you directly under your shoulders, knees under your hips; reach your left hand straight out in front of you as you reach your right leg straight out behind you; return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side; do a minimum of 4 sets.
For extra credit for:  lie flat on the floor on your stomach, do the same reaching sequence as above but be sure to hold your abs in and up, do 3 sets slowly, then 5~10 sets quickly pretending you are in the swimming pool.
Now you’re ready for the real swimming pool!

YOU DID IT!  Congratulations on keeping your body active as your mind relaxes.  Have a safe and healthy vacation.

Written by Marla Altberg, Solo Fitness and Wellness Personal Trainer and Pilates Mat Instructor. 2011