The Best Travel Workout Plan, According to a Trainer

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If it’s important to you to work out while on vacation, you’re certainly not alone. Many people, myself included, prefer to stick to a workout routine of some sort, even if your set is equipment-free and doesn’t involve leaving your hotel room. But getting a decent workout in can feel like a tall order when you’re working with limited gear. So we called in an expert to help us craft the perfect plan: Danielle Pascente, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

I met Pascente when we were both invited to Miracle Manor Boutique Hotel & Spa by Now Foods for a wellness retreat. After she led me through an incredible 30-minute high-intensity interval training circuit, we bonded over our shared motivation to work out regardless of the circumstances (i.e. no gym, no equipment, and very little space) — especially while on vacation.

“I say stick to your routine, no apologies needed. I think a lot of people vacation with other people that want to be like, ‘Don’t work out, we’re on vacation’ and they do the pressure thing,” Pascente tells PS. “It’s like, ‘No, I’m gonna work out because it makes me feel good.’ It doesn’t have to be associated with guilt. It can just be wanting to move your body because it feels good, and that’s period end of sentence.” We’re not shaming anyone for not working out while traveling; but if you love to break a sweat no matter where you are, join the club.

Ahead, Pascente outlines her key tips and tricks for maintaining a workout regimen while traveling, which she typically shares with her clients.

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Danielle Pascente-Hall is a certified personal trainer (CPI), group fitness instructor (GFI), pre/postnatal performance training specialist, and FitOn lead trainer. She offers free workouts on her Instagram, a four-week total body workout program, and additional guides via her site, daniellepascente.com.

Travel Workout Plan

Pascente suggests programming roughly four workout days per week, with the workout in question including a mix of upper- and lower body strength, HIIT, and conditioning moves. Each exercise session can be 20 to 30 minutes max, and will focus on building strength in the muscles while working the heart and lungs via cardio.

“Typically my programs are two strength days a week, two conditioning days, and three other days to rest or do whatever you want,” Pascente says. These three other days can be reserved for running, spinning, walking, yoga, Pilates, or swimming — whatever it is that appeals to you most on that given day.

Best Bodyweight Exercises For Vacation

Pascente offers two free workouts on the Now Foods site, including Lower Body SuperSets and a Total Body 5×5 Strength Circuit. They involve exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, snatches, and burpees, all of which can be amplified with a dumbbell (or a filled water bottle or backpack, if you’re working out in a hotel room). Alternatively, you can increase repetitions and sets to achieve muscle exhaustion without the addition of weights. Slowing down the tempo of your movements to increase time under tension and incorporating isometric holds is another option.

“Your 50 percent is your 100 percent some days, and you’re gonna do the squat instead of the squat jump.”

Pascente admits she’s been dubbed the burpee queen. “My community knows me to love burpees. What I’ll say about that is a lot of people hate on them and a lot of trainers hate on them,” she tells PS. “People need to understand the functional movement patterns to what these exercises are, and then they can do them. Run for the hills if you have a trainer that does it and is not showing you some sort of scaled version. People know me as the trainer that does the plyometric or jumping stuff, but I also think people know me as the trainer that offers so much grace and so many modifications to scale things.”

Pascente also acknowledges that on vacation, people may be bringing a different level of energy or effort. “They’re gonna show up to their mat some days and they’re not going to want to give 100 percent; they want the dialed-back version. So I’m very big about supplying people with, like, seven ways they can do my workout and actually having them tune into their bodies to see what they need on any given day. Your 50 percent is your 100 percent some days, and you’re gonna do the squat instead of the squat jump.”

Check out Pascente’s travel-friendly bodyweight workout and try it in your hotel room.

Courtesy of Now

Portable Equipment

There are so many home gym essentials that are light and packable for vacation, and could help you elevate any of the above exercises. Resistance bands are an easy go-to, whether you prefer flat bands, loop bands that are appropriate for glute bridges and lateral walks, or tube bands that are equipped with handles for bicep curls and the like. A favorite accessory of mine is my Crossrope, which I pack for every vacation without fail. Suspension trainers (aka TRX bands), sliders, ankle and wrist weights (why not wear them on the plane?), inflatable stability balls, and compact ab rollers are other tools you can collect over time — all of which are portable and easy to travel with.

How to Eat Healthy on Vacation

This is another related query that Pascente has firm thoughts about when it comes to staying healthy on vacation. “I come from a past of restriction from being an athlete and being told what I could and couldn’t eat, and I really healed my relationship with that,” she says. “Food can be love, it can be enjoyment, it can be so many things to so many people.”

Pascente’s current approach? “When I go on vacation, I don’t think, ‘Let’s throw it all away and just indulge.’ That’s not my mindset. I think if I want to eat something that is nutritious, I’m gonna do it. And then I probably will equally want to eat something that’s not as nutritious, so I’m simply saying, ‘This is a nutrient-dense food, and this is not, and it’s whatever.’ I think if you’re going on vacation, enjoy yourself. If you want to eat something that’s good for you or drink some fricking water, go ahead.” In other words, “healthy” looks different for everyone on different days. Vacations are short — so focus on feeling good, and enjoy yourself and your experience to the fullest.

Sarah Wasilak is the associate director of commerce at PS. With plenty of experience in the shopping market, a keen interest in SEO, and 10 years as an editor at the brand, she enjoys writing across the lifestyle and health-and-fitness categories. She has bylines at PS, InStyle, Elle, Refinery29, Who What Wear, Elite Daily, Byrdie, and The Quality Edit and aims to amplify minority voices in all her work.

Travel and expenses for the author were provided by Now Foods for the purpose of writing this story.

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