How to easily stay fit while travelling

Santa Monica workout 2

Participants in an exercise class on Santa Monica beach illustrate that a workout on the road doesn’t require a hotel gym.

While exercising on the road may be as appealing a prospect as losing luggage, you’ll likely  pay the price later if you don’t. Extra pounds, sluggishness and guilt are part of the burden of slacking off ─ especially after a certain age.

To make the most of my destination and keep fit while away, I look for activities that give a good workout and let me experience the local culture. Here is my take on how to easily stay fit while travelling.

Always pack your sneakers. Even if you don’t think you’ll have time to exercise, take your running shoes. I find that if I’ve gone to the trouble of hauling my kicks, I’m motivated to use them.

Walk this way. Walking is a tried-and-true method of seeing a destination, but it’s easy to increase this activity’s exercise potential by doing a couple of power walks while away. Power walking means increasing your speed and using effective form. Keep your head up, stomach in, swinging your arms while you stride and walking from heel to toe. For more information on power walking, check out this article from

Research free workout spaces at your destination. Exercising on the road needn’t cost anything, as I’ve experienced at the following locales:

  • In New York City, I’ve had great workouts and taken in one of the prettiest and most peaceful parts of the Big Apple by jogging around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. One loop equals 1.58 miles (2.54 kilometres). While circling it I’ve taken in the tony skylines of Central Park East and West, camera-wielding European tourists, wading ducks and Canadian Geese, and a strolling celebrity or two.
  • In Santa Monica, California, I’ve enjoyed both jogging and walking the Pacific-facing pathway to Venice and back. In addition to the gorgeous beach and ocean surroundings, the route offers eclectic and entertaining people-watching. Along it I’ve spied Gordon Ramsay doing a speedy run, Chevy Chase on a boardwalk patio, surfers, an actual freak show and a street “entrepreneur” selling photo ops with his pet boa constrictors. Santa Monica also boasts all kinds of beach workout classes. Find out about them by contacting the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, hotel concierges or by doing a search on

Try a local exercise class. I’ve done sweaty and strenuous Bikram Yoga with Type-A New York yogis on the Upper East Side and also a mellower hatha class at Santa Monica’s YogaWorks on Main Street. Both venues provided a high-quality exercise experience but also gave me a window into the different rhythms of each locale.

I also did a free yoga class at Santa Monica’s gorgeous Hotel Casa del Mar while staying there recently. The class was only advertised with a couple of small signs in the hotel, which made me wonder what other complimentary travel workout opportunities I’d missed out on over the years. Be sure to ask your hotel’s front desk or concierge if the facility offers any free exercise equipment, jogging maps or classes. More and more hotels are accommodating the fitness needs of their guests with amenities beyond the typical hotel gym.

Also note that many yoga and other exercise studios offer very affordable tryout weeks, which work well for road warriors.

I recently had a unique on-the-road exercise experience in a free Saturday morning Zumba class at Santa Monica Place mall. Doing the Latin-dance fitness craze alfresco at this indoor-outdoor shopping centre was a fun way to burn some calories and have what felt like an ultimate Southern California experience.

If the above tips on how to easily stay fit while travelling haven’t motivated you to exercise while away, consider the following. The more you get moving on your trip, the more local cuisine you’ll be able to enjoy without taking home extra pounds as a souvenir!

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Posted in Fitness, Travel

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