Helen Hawkes, AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW – LIFE & LEISURE
High flyers can kickstart their stopovers using apps, gadgets and luxury hotel gyms.
Staying fit when you travel is a challenge for those whose frequent flyer points accumulate as rapidly as their business contacts. What is required is a multi-pronged approach: perhaps a workout at the luxury hotel gym but also some ready-to-go workout apps and a couple of clever fitness gadgets that are light enough to fit in a carry-on bag.
Exercise physiologist, keynote speaker and director of Mischief, Motivation, Attitude, Mark McKeon, himself a frequent traveller, says preparation is key to staying in shape if you are often on planes or in hotels.
“If you are a keen cyclist, for example, make sure you schedule plenty of activity before you go so the gap between isn’t too long,” he says. “Once you’re on the road, bear in mind too that the quality of hotel gymnasiums has improved dramatically in the last 10 years so workout apparel may be all you need.”
Says Jacqui Esdaile, interior architect, creative director of Valmont and co-founder of Gravity Coworking, who travels weekly with offices and teams in each state: “The gym at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne is second to none – it has everything you could wish for in terms of equipment, and is spacious and clean. The ultimate gym I’ve used once would have to be at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore – the view is outstanding.”
Jason Huljich, CEO of Unlisted Property Funds for Centuria, who travels interstate at least once a month and several times to Asia annually, favours Crown Towers in Melbourne. “Their gym has good free weights, a lot of cardio equipment and a fantastic pool and steam room,” he says. “They also have a great spa if you like massages. Overseas, I find any Four Seasons has a good fitness centre and offers personal trainers if you need some extra motivation.”
A few other outstanding hotel gyms: Beijing’s Kerry Hotel, which spans more than 7000 square metres, and features high-tech equipment, five workout zones, 30 classes a week from yoga to kickboxing, and a 35-metre heated pool; the fitness club at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz in Lisbon, which offers breathtaking views of the city, a fully equipped Pilates room, a 400-metre rooftop outdoor running track and treadmills, bicycles and elliptical machines; the Sofitel Los Angeles that has StairMasters with personal TVs and Swiss rain showers for post-workout; the health club at the Sheraton on the Park Sydney which offers city and harbour views plus treadmills, bikes, cross trainers and rowers, free weights and a 13.5-metre lap pool; and the Hyatt Hotel Canberra that boasts a fully equipped gymnasium, personal trainers, massage, indoor pool, spa, sauna, bike hire and a floodlit tennis court.
Don’t forget to ask the concierge, either, about nearby fitness opportunities – a beautiful park, a yoga class, or a sought-after personal trainer, McKeon says.
GADGETS AND APPS
For those who prefer to exercise in their room, gadgets or body resistance and stretching workouts are the answer. The TRX Home Suspension Trainer Kit, $273, www.suspensiontrainingaustralia.com.au leverages gravity and your body weight to perform hundreds of exercises, explains Melbourne-based gym owner and personal trainer Danny Kennedy. “You’re in control of how much you want to challenge yourself because you simply adjust your body position to add or decrease resistance – and you can train anywhere,” he says.
Resistance bands can also substitute for most exercises you would do with dumbbells, and jump ropes are great for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Says Lucy Folk, designer/founder of jewellery and accessories brand Lucy Folk: “I take a skipping rope with me when I am on the road. I know most hotels or guests wouldn’t be too impressed if they are staying below me but it is a sure-fire way to kick-start the day. Short and sharp is key, as I am usually time poor.”
If you are a Type A personality who likes to monitor your activity level and sleep routine, the new Fitbit Blaze smart fitness watch, $329.95, features heart rate tracking, on-screen workouts, connected GPS that delivers real-time exercise stats like distance and pace, and a multi-sport mode for recording specific activities like biking, cardio, running, weights, yoga, as well as tracking your time asleep and without rest.
McKeon cautions that such devices are not for those already overwhelmed by technology. When travelling he likes to pack a thoracic extension rack, a moulded plastic gadget that weighs about 500 grams and which you can use to relax the upper body, as well as a massage knuckle to ease out knots.
Esdaile loves her Nike+ Running App “because whenever I am travelling, my favourite way to stay fit is to run. It’s free and a great way to explore a city or quickly get to my favourite cafes for breakfast. I pop my Yurbud headphones in – guaranteed to not fall out – and off I go.”
RUNNING & WORKOUTS
Huljich, who also favours running as a fitness option, agrees. “If you are visiting a new city it’s a great way to explore while the city is coming to life.”
The Adidas miCoach FIT SMART watch, $250 – a “training companion” – is also favoured by runners who want to display distance travelled, kilojoules burned, heart rate, pace and so on, and, when paired with Bluetooth 4.0, allows you to store 15 different workouts.
“Another app I like to use is Zova for a quick fire, guided bodyweight workout that you can do with no equipment in a hotel room. So easy to use: pick your body part, how much time you have and away you go,” Esdaile says.
Or try the Virtual Trainer Bodyweight : Home & Travel Fitness Workouts app that features 102 bodyweight exercises presented in sharp HD video and designed to support different workout types, including HIIT and circuit training. McKeon says a 20-minute stretch routine, incorporating 10 to 15 poses that you hold for 60 to 90 seconds each, reduces stiffness from travelling and improves sleep quality if performed before bed.
He also encourages high flyers to incorporate a 10-minute relaxation breathing routine into their day, even if they don’t do meditation.