In my job as the Medical Director for a professional cycling team, I travel frequently. Most of these trips are to Europe for races or training camps. Travel can interrupt your workout routine, for sure. I make it a priority to continue to stay active on the road, as it helps me adjust to the time differences, perform my job better, and generally stay more energetic and healthy. Since I recommend the same to patients, I’m often asked for advise on how to do this. I’m on my way home from Italy as I type this, so I thought I’d give you an insight into what tools I took with me.
Running shoes - This is the simplest and most flexible way to remain active. If you can tolerate a “minimal” shoe, this is the time to pack it. It’s great to be able to save some space in the suitcase. My New Balance 1500v2 shoes have close to 50,000 miles on them…well, flight miles.
Versa Loops - These are the most versatile components of my travel gym. They take up no space and can be used for hundreds of movements! And they hardly cost anything. i also keep them at home, work, in every suitcase, and even in my car.
Furniture Sliders - Another highly versatile piece of equipment that takes up little space. These, too, are used regularly in my home regimen as well. If you don’t know how to use these, check out some videos on our Podium Sports Medicine Vimeo site.
Foam Roller - At first, this seems rather bulky, but the model I carry is hollow. If you stuff it with T-shirts and socks, you lose very little space at all. After a 10-hour flight, it feels great to roll out those hamstrings and hip flexors. It really demonstrates its value on the return flight though, when you can put that special bottle of Borolo into a WineVinci and then put it inside the foam roller for added protection.
Thoracic Peanut - When the hotel bed is too soft, the pillow too large, or you’ve had to sit in the middle seat in Economy in the row that doesn’t recline, this little gem can save your back. Regain that extension in your thoracic spine or use it at the base of your skull to allow muscles to relax. It can work as a trigger-point therapy as well. Packing tip: it will fit perfectly inside one of your running shoes!
TRX - This takes your travel gym to the next level. With this tool, you can hang a suspension trainer from your hotel door and have access to hundreds of exercises. This is the bulkiest item I carry, but it is well worth its weight and size. And if you take it out of the small bag and lay the straps lengthwise in your suitcase, it really doesn't take too much room at all. For a weekend trip, I’d skip it. But if you’re gone for 1-2 weeks, it’s a necessity.
My goal when traveling is not to get any fitter. I’ve learned that only leads to disappointment. Instead, I set a goal of maintaining fitness. With these tools, I can put together numerous body-weight exercises with light resistance from the Versa Bands when needed. I can go for runs (which is a great way to see a new town) and then roll out tight muscles.