30 September, 2010

Guest Blogger: How to fit in exercising when traveling

30 September, 2010

At the moment I (Maura) am in the US for a 3 week holiday. While it is so great to be back home seeing family and friends I know there will come a point when I will start to miss my regular gym routine. I find it so hard to exercise when I am traveling as I am often running from place to place and don’t have a set routine like I do here in Hong Kong. Knowing that this trip was going to be a long time away from home I asked Tingting Peng, founder of of Iron Lotus Fitness, for some easy tips on working out when on the go.

Tingting (in the light pink top) doing street yoga in Japan

Anyone who knows my travel schedule knows that I’m hardly ever in Hong Kong.  As a yoga teacher and director of a boutique resort development and management company, I have found that keeping fit while on the road doesn’t have to be so painful or difficult.  The three key things to remember are commitment, consistency and forgiveness.

Before you get envious of my globetrotting, let me confess that I am a huge fitness fanatic and when I am in Hong Kong, you will almost always find me in yoga class, running on the Peak, kayaking out in Sai Kung or doing some other form of physical activity, so traveling can really take me away from all of that.  Over the last few years, however, as I made the transition from the finance to the fitness world and now sitting somewhere in the middle, I’ve been able to cultivate a sense of responsibility to myself to maintain an exercise routine even when I’m living out of a suitcase.

This commitment is not a pair of iron-clad handcuffs that end up making me feel miserable or guilty, but rather is a long-term commitment to my own health, and has given me the freedom to explore different forms of exercise depending on where I am.  For example, I often do research on yoga studios in my destination cities beforehand and check out their schedules to see if I can drop in on classes while I’m in town.  Many hotels now are also offering free classes to their guests.   In addition, I always travel with a pair of sneakers, even if I do not where I might be able to run, I usually find that it could be an interesting way to explore the city (and honestly, how lost can I get?)

Consistency is often a problem for people even if they’re not travelling.  For me, it adds even greater incentive to stay true to my body’s need for movement.  No matter how small my hotel room is, and I’ve stayed in some tiny rooms particularly in Tokyo, I try to squeeze in a 20-minute wake-up session consisting of some abdominal work, some multi-planar leg strengtheners, and a few handstands to kick start my day.  Even if I’m so pressed for time that I can only enjoy 3 handstands, at least it’s something!  I’ve learned to not be so attached to the amount of time I spent working out or what I’m doing and instead focus on how I feel while doing the exercises.  It has to feel good! This brings me to my last point: forgiveness.

Working out and staying fit is a long-term commitment because we all want to feel good in our bodies, minds and souls. Being able to forgive myself if I miss a session or simply are too tired to do anything after a long day of traveling and meetings has been key for me to maintaining this commitment.  Knowing what my body needs – and sometimes what it really needs is rest – has helped me stay motivated and reduce anxiety that could otherwise spoil the whole fun of exercise. I truly believe that working out shouldn’t become a job (I already have multiple!), it should be something I enjoy.

As I type this I am flying back to Hong Kong after a few short days in Singapore. I didn’t get much of a chance to work out while in Singapore but I am looking forward to salsa dancing with my girl friends tonight and getting back to my running group tomorrow! It’s all about balance and being able to pick up any where I might have left off, and of course, having fun! =).

Tingting’s morning 20-minute quickie:
100 bicycle twists (super good for the tummy)
3 Sun Salutations (downward facing dog, high to low push-up, cobra pose, repeat) or 20 jumping jacks
15 front/back lunges (per leg)
3-5 handstands (optional; if you are experienced to do this)
Seated forward fold (helps to stretch out the hamstrings)
Butterfly pose (stretches the hip flexors)
Seated twist, both sides (brings new juice to the spinal chord)

Tingting can be contacted at [email protected] or 9858 8003.

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