As an expat, a self-designated nomad, I’m on the move a lot. Sometimes I jet-set for work. A couple times a year I head in the direction of True North (strong and free) for a homecoming. On occasion, I’ll try to squash the travel bug within by taking off for somewhere I’ve never been.
But regardless of the country, city, or town I try to pack light. The task has always been a challenge. Space gets tight when a third of your carry-on is filled with food. (Because of allergies I must be prepared in the event I can’t find something to eat.) And it gets even tighter if, like me, you are determined to #getyoursweaton regardless of the locale you visit.
How much workout gear I pack is determined by how long I’m on the road. In the past, I always made room for a travel yoga mat and running shoes. These days I’ve upped the ante by adding resistance bands, hand wraps, and a lightweight jump rope.
In addition to my four go-to ensembles—two for yoga, two for cardio—I’ve added an extra pair of compression tights and top. I sweat so much these extras have become standard. There is nothing worse than wearing still damp garments two days in a row.
What I do for a workout depends on gym access, the size of my room, and whether it’s safe to run outside. Yet, even if everything seems to be in order I usually still have to improvise.
This is because I might not have enough tools to play with, or perhaps the ones available are different from those I’m used to at home. It’s why, over the last nine months, I have learned to rely on the bare minimum. A treadmill, my limbs to shadowbox, and a jump rope are all I need to work out on my own.
This week’s trick however, involved rooting my feet to the floor with a set of 10 pound weights. I needed to prevent my legs from moving and hips from shifting as I did modified sit-ups. Though it looked ridiculous I had enough stability to faff about with a medicine ball—working my abs to the point of exhaustion.
And although it is mildly frustrating to modify a workout, I do it because there’s no other alternative if I’d like to take out frustration or simply move about. On a trip to Myanmar, where gyms are hard to come by, I completed 40 minutes of Jane Fonda-like aerobics in my room for two weeks straight. When I couldn’t leave the compound in South Sudan I unrolled my mat at the foot of my bed and spent the early hours of the morning doing yoga.
Adjusting and changing things up is better than nothing. I’m not interested in taking a week off and having to put in double time when I return to my gym. Besides, being active is a great cure for jet lag, long meetings, and restless legs. I guess that is why two-thirds of my luggage will always be dedicated to food and sports-related things.
The really posh clothing and baubles can stay at home. I only require one battle dress to dominate a meeting anyhow. More important are my runners and several pieces of Dri-FIT.
I need to be prepared if I’m going to be the lone wolf on the hotel treadmill.