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Ask the Expert: How do I keep fit while on vacation?

Vacation tips from Instructor Kelly Dormady

It’s easy to get exercise while on vacation if you don’t think of it as a chore.

Kelly Dormady, a Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer and Education Director at Merrithew Host Training Center Fluid Motion Maui in Hawaii, recommends participating in activities that you wouldn’t normally do at home to shake up your routine and make it an experience.

Here are her top tips for keeping fit and having fun while on vacation.

  • If the vacation is a beach or island destination, go for daily beach walks, runs or swims. Try snorkeling or paddle boarding— something that’s totally out of the ordinary
  • If you’re going to a city, don’t rent a car. Try walking as your primary method of transportation and use public transportation as your secondary option
  • If you’re going somewhere where there’s great access to nature, plan some hikes in advance
  • If you’re visiting friends and family who are also fitness enthusiasts, ask to join their fitness class or gym on a guest pass
  • If it’s a short vacation, like a long weekend away, use this as a break from exercise completely because sometimes the body just needs to rest and regroup
Kelly stretching on the beach

Q: What’s your advice for sticking to a fitness routine while on vacation?

  • Plan ahead based on your type of vacation and location
  • Keep it simple: STOTT PILATES® Matwork routines are easy to take with you on the go
  • Ask your Pilates instructor or personal trainer for a basic 25 to 40-minute routine that you can practice while you’re away. I create "vacation workouts" for my Pilates and fitness clients all of the time. I type it up for them and we try to go through it during one of their private sessions prior to their departure date

Q: The worst part of traveling is often the time spent in the air or on the road. What should people do to deal with all the sedentary time on long flights or car trips?

In the air, get up every hour to walk about the cabin and use the restroom. During that time, try to do some lower body stretches with a focus on the calves, glutes, quads and hip flexors.

While at your seat, focus on the STOTT PILATES Basic Principles by doing Breathing Forward/Spine Stretch Forward with a focus on three-dimensional breathing and spinal mobility. Get the shoulder girdle moving with scapula isolations, then elevation and depression of the scapulae. Do some gentle head nods to relieve neck tension and stress.

Encourage circulation and motion in the lower body by doing knee/thigh lifts; knee extensions and ankle circles/rolls. This will help reduce overall stiffness and alleviate restlessness of the hips and legs.

On long road trips, do all of the above, plus make pit stops every two hours to walk around the car for five minutes. Add in some jumping jacks, squats or push-ups.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise prop to bring with you?

That’s easy! A Flex-Band®, a small Mini Stability Ball and a set of two or three-pound Mini Handweights. These items take up minimal space and weight in your suitcase and they’re cost-effective. As long as you have a carpeted area and towel at your accommodations, you won't even need to pack a mat.

Want to take a class while on vacation? Find an instructor near you!

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