How to maintain your fitness routine while traveling

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Chris Muir knows fitness. As a co-founder of Caliber, a science-based fitness program, the 39-year old New York City resident has coached hundreds of clients to transform their bodies and has created an app that allows more people to learn how to get in shape. He says it’s all about developing a routine and tracking little victories along the way.

“One of the things we encourage a lot of clients to do is to get away from thinking too much about scale and to look at their overall strength as a bigger picture. We gamify it, so they can see the data every week and they can see exactly how they’re progressing,” says Muir, comparing it to how Credit Karma can track a user’s credit score.

But that routine doesn’t have to get thrown out the window on vacation, despite all the temptations of a decadent breakfast buffet or swim-up poolside bar. When Muir travels, he flies Cathay Pacific when he can, calling it his home airline as he hails from Hong Kong. Bloomberg spoke to him about the best ways to stay fit while traveling.

Don’t leave this item out of your suitcase.

One of the things I advise for clients who travel a lot is to buy adjustable resistance bands. These are very small, portable and fit within a backpack or a suitcase. They’re inexpensive, around $30, and let you approximate a lot of the exercises you’d be doing in a gym - a squat, row, or a shoulder press can all be done with resistance bands in your hotel room. You can increase the level of resistance just the way you could in a gym. If you’re not afraid of getting weird looks at the airport during a long delay, you could find a quiet corner and have a workout. You’ll always feel better once you’ve been active.

Or on the diet side, pack some protein powder.

I tend to pack some protein powder with me when I’m traveling because especially on flights, you’re often more limited when it comes to your diet. You might not have the options to eat exactly what you want. It allows me to easily supplement around the edges. I love Optimum Nutrition. it’s been my go-to for many years.


Strategize your hotel’s breakfast buffet.

I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for years, so I typically don’t eat breakfast. But in terms of something like a hotel buffet, the order in which you eat your food can matter a lot. So instead of eating something like pancakes first and moving on to something else, start with proteins like eggs, bacon or meat if you’re a meat eater. So you’ll get full faster from the protein than you would if you started with a carb-heavy food like pancakes or French toast. You won’t have to exercise additional willpower and won’t be as hungry.

How to drink while trying to stay fit.

If you know you’re going to be drinking alcohol, which I’ll do when I’m on vacation, just plan your diet around it. You may not make the best dietary choices after drinking, so have your protein and vegetables earlier in the day, so that when you drink, you’ll have your nutritional needs taken care of already. Obviously, light beer has fewer calories, and mixed drinks can be super sugary. I tend to stay away from them, but I do like a Manhattan.

Check out what’s in your hotel gym before you travel.

It’s something our coaches routinely do for our clients. They’ll do research to find out if the hotel has a gym and if so, what equipment is there. Unless you’re staying in a five-star or boutique hotel, the gyms tend to have multipurpose machines where you can exercise or sometimes use dumbbells and a bench. You can do a lot of exercises with a basic setup, or just with your body weight if you don’t have a hotel gym. Push-ups, air squats, lengths, sit-ups. You can even use furniture in certain contexts, like do dips on a sofa.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep.

I take melatonin if I’m traveling, as well as ZMA [zinc magnesium acetate]. A lot of people tend to be deficient in magnesium, and it’s super important for sleep. But the best way to fight jet lag is to just hit the ground running on day one. I don’t nap. If you don’t adjust to the time zone initially, it can grind on for a number of days.