Sometimes, the inspiration of my column comes from thoughts and resources that are spontaneous and unexpected.
Over the past four days, I had the luxury of attending a truly inspirational and highly educational entrepreneurs seminar, by a dynamic "street smart" teacher.
In one of her sessions, she made it a point to "prosper where you are planted" -- in other words, turn any situation into your advantage.
Fitness came to mind immediately when I thought about how frequently people search for a designated fitness location, when the gym can be created at any location.
The most logical pack 'n' go fitness equipment for years has been running shoes, as donning a pair of these bad boys (and perhaps shorts or sweats) equips anyone to simply lace up and go. Sometimes, the motivation to do this can be dampened significantly by weather and elements, however.
Let's face it, the thought of running in the subzero temperatures around Lake Michigan outside Chicago in the month of January is not exactly motivating.
For those of you who have watched the fitness evolution-revolution, you have probably noticed a greater movement toward harnessing light, easy-to-pack, low-weight implements that travel well, require little space and combined with that good old "gravity-based" resistance (military-style boot camp moves and calisthenics), can turn the smallest space into a fitness workshop.
Listed below are a few of my favorite take-along implements and training environments that when used creatively, can make a huge difference in your fitness and take the sting out of that shut-in feeling that countless airplanes and hotel rooms can cause.
Running shoes and stairwells: Whether you are staying at a 20-story or two-story hotel, the stairs can be a playground for strengthening the legs and improving your cardio. This doesn't have to be monotonous, nor do you have to "sprint" the stairs (although you can as you develop your fitness) to be effective. Whether it's walking up every step, every other step, sideways, backwards (careful of those knees), fast or slow, "working" the stairs can be an awesome work-out. P.S.: You'll encounter very few people because, even in a two-story motel, most people use the elevator.
Jump rope: Folks, the jump rope is a lot more than a playground game. It builds awesome cardio, endurance, hand and foot speed, coordination, and it strengthens the calves. Over the decades, and the invention of high-tech exercise devices, it is still at the very top of most athletes' and fitness enthusiasts' lists for becoming fitter and more coordinated. Try doing this on the landing between two sets of stairs where ceiling height won't be a factor in hitting the rope.
Furniture sliders: I'll let you in on a little secret -- don't spend countless dollars on these "sliding Frisbees" from airline and exercise magazines. These devices are like "foot skates" that allow for awesome, low-friction upper- and lower-body workouts. They can slide over carpet like ice, and work with both arms and legs.
At your local big-box hardware store, ask for the "sliders that are put under furniture legs" and you'll see what I'm talking about at a fraction of the price.
Suspension trainers: This is just a big word for two straps with handles that can be slipped over and pinched in your door jamb to facilitate a number of highly effective "gymnastic ring-like" movements that pit your body against gravity in some very creative techniques. Body angle determines the level of difficulty. Rolled up in your luggage, these devices can provide an exceptional workout in very little space.
As the winter blahs continue to emphasize the role of exercise in coping with gray days, remember that whether it's Tacoma or Trinidad, your portable gym can make a huge difference in achieving or maintaining fitness during your travels.
Bill Victor is the owner of Victor Fitness System Professional Fitness Trainers, Flashpoint Athletic Speed & Agility Specialists, and Performance Nutrition Consultants. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and online at http://theflashpoint.org and http://VictorFitnessSystems.com.