Tag Archives: personal fitness

Travel vs Your “Fitness Routine”

Anna Maria; foot in sand

Mark Dilworth is a former Division I athlete, trainer extraordinaire and friend whose fitness and training savvy has been recognized by Stanford University Wellsphere (amongst many others). When he asked me to share how I fit “fitness” into my travels, I sent the following (from California where I was at the time hiking through Yosemite National Park, mountain biking in Mammoth Lakes and… you get the idea… ).

The gym is unfamiliar or even non-existent. Or maybe you’re in a different time zone, struggling against your own body clock.  Whatever the particulars, travel presents unique challenges for the fitness-minded.  More positively however, it can also gift you with some new opportunities to energize and enhance a humdrum routine!

A little research will widen your options from what is available strictly at your hotel.  Fitness offerings there can be as elaborate as a pass to a full scale health club or as paltry as a couple of dumbbells stacked in the corner of a closet-sized room! It’s good to know what you’re likely to find before you start packing. Check local websites for trails and parks.  Details won’t be necessary until you arrive but know your options by getting a visual of area parks and recreation areas.  Many hotels have runner’s maps available at the front desk or with a concierge, but don’t stop there.  A short drive or ride might take you to a more scenic trail that you’ll remember long after the endorphins fade away.

Note:  Before sprinting off into an unfamiliar area ask the right questions: “Are there any areas I should avoid?”  and  “Do locals or other hotel guests typically run this route?”  Carry your cell phone (with the hotel’s phone number in case you get lost) and focus on the details of your new route or trail.  Skip the iPod until you know the area better.

Of course cardio isn’t limited to runningVacation travel can and should be geared around the activities you already love or want to try outHike or run up a mountainside; rent a kayak, a bike or a horse…  Stretch your muscles and your mind with unique experiences.  The best destinations offer a range of flexible options.  You can build easy exercise into city stays by choosing hotels within walking distance of most meals and points of interest.  Plan ahead, and then plan to be flexible.

Weight work is typically harder to arrange if you lack a decent gym.  Have a plan to work with nothing more than your own body if need be.  Print out some new exercises to try in your hotel room. Push-ups and crunches in a multitude of challenging variations can be done anywhere, and playgrounds have monkey bars for pull-ups and chin-ups.  Pack swim goggles and resistance bands to create even more options for yourself.

~And don’t discount the tremendous value of local knowledgeWhere do you think travel books  and websites get their information? I make it a point to ask those I encounter for their personal suggestions and find many to be worth pursuing.  Area residents have directed me to excellent snorkeling spots, challenging trails and even lent us snorkels and hiking sticks!

Business and group travel and traveling with younger children can require extra creativity in achieving even an opportunity for workout time!  -But it’s always worth trying.  A few minutes of something is always better than nothing at all -if only for the fact that you are maintaining a habit of health.  The point is not to replicate your home work-out but to take advantage of what you find at your destination.  Consider it a sampling of the local fitness cuisine.  You can order “the usual” when you’re back at home again.

When travel lands you on a new playing field without all of your usual equipment, forget about your “fitness routine”.   Instead, make it your routine to pursue fitness in all its varying forms.

*Some fun ways to exercise on-the-road: running, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, climbing, zip-lining, walking, hiking, biking, wind surfing… Fitness has as many “shapes” as we do!

Columbus Things To Do

Hikes through Southern Utah

Cave Adventures

Kayaking with Manatees


Down by the Bay (Upper Newport Bay, California)

When your hotel is situated on the edge of a nature preserve, it’s bound to get interesting. When there’s ten miles of trails winding through it? Even better. I spent a lot of time on the trails of Upper Newport Bay Preserve and Ecological Reserve a few years ago, both strolling with my camera and running without it. There’s nothing like fresh scenery to add a little spring to your step and pull some time off your mile.

Upper Newport Bay Map and Visitor Information

Upper Newport Bay is dedicated wetlands. Without intervention and education, it would eventually fill with sediment and evolve into meadowland. Home to half a dozen rare or endangered bird species, the estuary hosts over 30,000 birds a day during winter migration. Birds are only part of the story though; fish, native plants and assorted critters and mammals share the space in an intricate food web sustained by the unique conditions of a wetlands habitat. Some thirty to forty percent of California’s halibut catch is said to originate from spawning beds in the Bay. A flood control project in the late 60’s has impacted the Bay to the point that regular dredging is necessary to maintain its natural state. Fortunately, many believe the estuary to be worth the effort.The serene liquid landscape teems with life; mollusks, fish and snails emerged along the waterline as well as assorted shorebirds that fluttered away at our approach. We searched in vain for a California trapdoor spider, but a sleek long-tailed weasel caught my eye as it slipped across a narrow channel.

The Muth Interpretive Center was an unexpected find, tucked away beneath a curve of the trail. The paths of an outdoor garden led us down to fascinating displays on the Bay’s ecosystem. We arrived with questions and the employees were more than happy to share information and point us to helpful exhibits. Muth Center guides also helped us identify a couple of plants that intrigued us, including the coyote gourd or coyote melon plant.

The trailing vines of this flowering plant were expansive, invading the territories of all surrounding vegetation and even creeping out onto the horse trail that runs alongside the biking and running path. Jumping the vines daily as I ran the bayside path seemed reason enough for an introduction…


Updated from July 29, 2009.

Newport Beach Things To Do

Upper Newport Bay Map and Visitor Information

1000 acres of preserved wetland with 10 miles of hiking/biking/running trails. Kayaking, fishing, birdwatching...

Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center: Exhibits and information

Directions/Phone: 2301 University Drive; Newport Beach, CA 92660(949) 923 2290    Website

Newport Aquatic Center: Kayak and pontoon boat tours

Directions/Phone: 1 Whitecliffs Drive; Newport Beach, CA 92660(949) 646-7725   Website

View Upper Newport Bay Preserve and Ecological Reserve in a larger map


In-Town Tourist: Hockhocking Adena Bikeway


Sometimes spinning your wheels can actually get you somewhere.

We caddied bikes to a high school cross-country meet with only the vague outline of a plan. The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway* looked to be nearby on the map and was un-cycled territory yet to be discovered. Once we located the trailhead near the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway and unloaded our bikes, we were on our way. The low grade paved “rails to trails” way follows the former path of the Columbus and Hocking Valley Railroad, connecting Nelsonville and Athens, Ohio. The mostly shaded trail was an easy ride. Winding our way alongside the Hocking River through the Wayne National Forest was a great way to “reset” both mind and body. Rock outcroppings and verdant ravines, the remnants of an old canal basin, a train yard with relics of times past and the Ohio University campus in Athens were among the highlights.

Once in Athens, we did a leisurely loop around the elegant campus, thick with trees and collegiate charm, and refueled with a snack and water break on the banks of the Hocking River before heading back north. At the end of the day we’d put an additional 35 miles on our bikes and some much needed outdoor time into our Saturday.

*”Hockhocking” comes from the Adena Indian word for”twisted” -an accurate description of the Hocking River.

More album photos: Heather Dugan Creative on Facebook

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