FITNESS AND VACATION? 8 tips to keep you lean and clean wherever you are.

BY: TOSCA RENO

Vacationing, to mentally reset and take a break from your world, is a much sought after pursuit but it need not imply that you become a sloth.  These 8 tips should keep you within range of being able to wear your skinny jeans, no matter where you hang your bikini, maybe even with your bikini.

Fitness and how to maintain it, is never far from my mind, even as I prepared for a two week, much needed vacation at my brother’s cottage in sleepy, Ompah, Ontario, population 11,000.  Blink and you will miss the marina where we jump in the boat to gain access to the hulking granite boulder that is “The Island.”  Gripping my limit of 2 bags, loaded with swim wear and workout gear, I intended to manage my fitness despite the oxymoron implied by vacationing.

My personal trainer, Sue McHardy, owner of Ignite Fitness (www.suesiignitefitness.com) in Caledon, Ontario, created an intense Tabata-based workout for me. Sue’s philosophy is based in short, explosive bursts of training, to which my body seems to respond well.  Her approach to full on interval training helps me reach the physical goals I am seeking. When we have tired out one body part, she moves quickly to another to repeat the punishment.  Then we circle around for more.  Her mantra of “belly button, butt, squeeze, breathe!” are her verbal reminders of what my body should be doing throughout the work.

Gripping the index card with the new workout Sue created for me, I knew it was going to be a demanding two weeks.  My plan was to get myself ready for the upcoming World Fitness Expo, where a lean, fit body would probably come in handy.  Anchors away!

My brother chose the boat access only cottage, largely because of the lake.  The pristine, freshwater lake itself, where the rugged cottage is situated, provides the perfect place to practice my freestyle stroke and improve my cardiovascular endurance.  Swimming is one of the top 10 most demanding sports because of its’ continuous nature.  While propelling yourself through the water, there is little to no time for recovery, the upper and lower body is constantly in motion, and your core is working overtime to stabilize the body.  What a fabulous fitness maintaining exercise!

With several smaller islands dotting the lake and within a reasonable range of the cottage, it is easy to choose the distance I want to swim.  Open water swimming can be daunting if you aren’t properly prepared. I wear a brightly coloured swim cap as well as swim safety gear, a brightly coloured balloon-type device attached to my waist, to provide high visibility while in the water.  I also wear a neon swim cap.  When possible, I coerce my nieces and nephews to paddle alongside me or swim with my much faster brother who is preparing for an Iron Man.  I do not try to keep up with him!!

The enormous hunk of granite, deposited here by the great glaciers that scraped clear the Canadian Shield, in the geographical area called the Eastern Great Lakes Lowland Forests, comprises the island.  I can sprint from the dock up to the top, about 50 metres, shuffle down and make a figure 8, several times, testing my hill climbing ability, and my heart/lung engine.  It’s better to do sprints up, down and around to get the maximum effect.  Once I have exhausted myself there, I plunge into the lake for a cool down.

On the island, I will endeavour to continue the hard work we have started, doing Jax (Sue’s words), weighted burpees, mountain climbers, her special mix of ab pain (well, ok, it’s pain but I love the result) and more.  Yesterday I trained using a 20 kg bag of stones, carefully placed on my stomach, while I did prone hip raises. It is refreshing to take my workout outside, feeling the fresh lake winds grazing my skin as I train.  The pungent fragrance of cedar and spruce, the call of the loon and the warmth of Vitamin D inducing sun upon my skin, make my vacation workout feel like heaven!

Later, when the beer comes out, I won’t feel bad about enjoying it. I know I have kept myself, fit and fine in the sunshine.

Keep yourself in shape throughout the summer months by following my 8 tips:

  1. Take your workout outside, rain or shine.
  2. Use the terrain of your vacation destination to create a new workout space for yourself. Hills, water, rough terrain, forest trails and more, make ideal outdoor workout spaces.
  3. Hydrate correctly - water is North America’s #1 nutritional deficiency.  Spike your water with lemon juice and a pinch of sea salts for better electrolyte value.
  4. Mix up cardio with intervals, sprints, weights, Tabatas and your own personal preference of physical pursuits. If you are lucky enough to be near a lake, swim!
  5. Eat Clean after your vacation workout, refuelling on clean protein, healthy fat and plenty of complex carbs.
  6. Grab a friend or family member to enjoy the work out with you.  Chances are, they just need to be invited and will be inspired to sweat with you.
  7. Practice safety in your new locale.  Plan routes that are safe and known to others, letting them know if you are going on a long run, swim or otherwise.  Wear bright colours, carry your cell phone (if you are in a zone that carries a signal) and leave a note stating where you are going, when you are returning and so on.
  8. Breathe, enjoy and make the most of your physical self.  You will feel so good in your own skin, it will remind you of the joy of physical wellness.

Happy and safe summering everyone!

I am always listening,

Tosca Reno
PS. Share with me, your own story of vacation training. I want to hear your wild and wonderful stories of fitness on vacation.  Maybe we can start something. Post comments in the Comments section below.

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