The (Previously) Unwritten Rules of Working Out on Vacation

Jack Barrett
by Jack Barrett
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The (Previously) Unwritten Rules of Working Out on Vacation

Let me ask you a question.

Are you a Vacation Workout Guy?

Or do you just like to work out on vacation?

What’s the difference, you ask? Oh, there’s a difference. A big, bad difference.  

Vacation Workout Guy makes a big deal about bringing his running shoes on vacation. He probably carries them in a separate bag that is visible apart from the rest of his luggage.

En route to said vacation, Vacation Workout Guy wonders aloud to the group whether the hotel has a nice gym. He will lament (loudly) that it won’t have a full set of dumbbells.

Vacation Workout Guy wakes up very early, earlier than everybody else on the trip. How will you know? Because when you ask Vacation Workout Guy how he’s doing in the morning, he will tell you, “Great, I went to the gym first thing.”

During the rest of the day, Vacation Workout Guy will comment how much more he’s able to enjoy normal vacation activities because “he’s already worked out.”

In sum: Vacation Workout Guy is the worst. You do not want to be Vacation Workout Guy.

But, if you’re an athlete who reads this site, you probably do want to work out on vacation. You don’t need to be ashamed. You do need to avoid being Vacation Workout Guy.

The art of squeezing some productive and refreshing fitness into a summer weekend getaway is just that — an art. Especially if you’re with family or a group of friends, there’s a fine line between enjoying yourself and maintaining your routine (to some extent) and respecting the vacation vibes. Even if you’re the person who needs to sweat every single day, you don’t also want to be the person making the rest of the group feel lazy, out of shape and unmotivated. As Americans, we have a fundamental right to be that way on vacation (Section 6, Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution).

There’s also no reason that you can’t tactfully and effectively work out during your trip. For as much as we all should hate Vacation Workout Guy, his insufferableness is rooted in truth. It does feel pretty good to work out before a day at the beach. You’ve got a bit more a license to indulge. That first cocktail might taste a little more refreshing. Hey, maybe you’ll even see a little extra muscle definition…

And by working out on vacation, you’ll arrive back at home not so far removed from your usual routine, which is helpful if you’re working toward tangible fitness goals.

Generally, the best way to go about working out on vacation is to do the opposite of what Vacation Workout Guy does.

1. The first and most important rule of working out on vacation: Don’t talk about working out on vacation. Not on the way there, not while you’re getting settled at the house or hotel, not even if your imaginary alter ego is the Tyler Durden equivalent of Vacation Workout Guy. If somebody asks you point-blank if you’re planning to work out, go with “I haven’t really thought about it.” Like it or not, people on vacation are hardwired to resent people who remind them of life outside of vacation. They are naturally inclined to hate you for wanting to work out. Don’t ruin the group chemistry right off the bat. That’ll end your precious field trip pretty damn quick.

2. Adapt your routine to the environment, don’t adapt the environment to your routine.  If your place has a gym, great. Use whatever they have. Take a page out of Vacation Workout Guy’s book by going early, but don’t talk about it. If you are spending time scouring the local town for a facility where you can get a day pass, that’s unnecessary wheel spinning. You might as well have stayed home.

3. The beach run is your best option. I’ve said it before, but running on sand produces a full-body soreness that you don’t get elsewhere. As an added bonus, you don’t have to burn space in your weekend bag with extra workout clothes. Go in your swim trunks and leave the shoes at home. Pop that shirt off if you want. Top it all off with a Rocky/Apollo Creed-style sprint into the ocean and a refreshing cooldown dip.

4. If you dare, use sleight of hand with the rest of your group. Trick them into exercising by masquerading the activity as a game. Spikeball (favored), volleyball and football are all exercise substitutes if the intensity level is high enough.

If somebody singles you out to work out with them, analyze their mannerisms. Have they been talking about working out a lot? Did they prominently display workout gear while unpacking? Don’t be fooled. Take all necessary precautions.  

Because the only thing worse than one Vacation Workout Guy? Two Vacation Workout Guys.

About the Author

Jack Barrett
Jack Barrett

Jack Barrett likes #sports, writing, and watching Arrested Development. He lives in New York City.


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