We see lots of guests on our Sharing Bali fitness retreats who are feeling rejuvenated by the end of the week, but are daunted by the thought of maintaining it once they hit the reality of working life back home. Especially those who have a hectic business travel schedule. They are likely to be heading for my roller coaster.
After a lifetime of international and domestic business travel in the fashion industry, I've clocked up my share of airports and hotel nights. I've also allowed my well being to take a roller coaster ride along the way.
Rock bottom of the ride....no sleep, jet lag, too many wines, midnight mini bar feasts. Top of the ride (and a hard slog to get there).... never left home without my workout gear, fruit and water were my snack mates, walked or ran my way around every city. There were periods of coasting, enjoying the ride, but the dips and highs were inevitable and they took their toll!
Not every business traveler gets to stay in 5 star hotels where fitness facilities and good food are more likely to be on tap. Not that this always helps. We are all guilty of staying in the best hotels and only sleeping, eating, and drinking. Why does that tempting chocolate on the pillow always seems to ask for a glass of wine to go with it?
Hotels don’t make it easy. I get so frustrated with hotels that think that providing a gym of some sort ticks the box for wellness. If you are not staying at a deluxe establishment, I can pretty much guarantee you that the gym will be buried in the bowels of the hotel. Find the smallest room, with the lowest ceiling, no windows, grey carpet, and of course the obligatory television sets and there you have it… your centre of wellness. Inspiring.
So spurred on by a conversation with one of our recent guests, I put together my top ten tips to avoid the highs and lows. Our guest was inspired and transformed by her time with us, so I knew she would not only benefit from it herself, but was also in a position to help many others in her organization. She’s a woman of action so ideas are underway within a week!
“I have had a chat to my boss and he really likes the idea of me leading something for regional Victoria. So I'm in creation stage at the moment. As soon as it's together I will share it with you for your opinion. Have also sent a note to the organizers of our big conference re some pt and yoga. They loved the idea and are looking to set something up. So creating change from one conversation. Thank you for being my muse!”
So here they are. This is not a program for high performance fitness. Just some handy hints to help us stay on the coasting part of the ride. To use our guests‘ words “Easy and quite obvious when you read them, however the excuses always get in the way”.
1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN for a healthy journey. Spend equal amounts of time on packing for your wellbeing as much as packing the right reports. It's not being selfish at all. In fact, it will make you happier and hence more productive. Only stay at hotels that allow you to live well. You don’t need 5 star facilities to stay on track.
2. Create a “travel survival kit” that works for you. Commit to traveling with it. Make it a special travel kit that you reach for every time you pack. Don't use it at home or you will have to reassemble it every time you pack for a trip. ie. favourite workout outfit, shoes, water bottle, heart rate monitor, resistance band, skipping rope, a few workout routines written down. Whatever works for you.Trying to jam it all into a carryon bag and tempted to take your running shoes out? Don’t even think about it unless you are 100% committed to doing barefoot sessions such as yoga. You’ve just nixed your reason to get outdoors. Use the ten minutes wait at the baggage carousel to check your emails.
3. Join a group. Meet some new people. Look up Bootcamps, outdoor groups, yoga classes, running groups etc that accept drop-ins and are close to your hotel. Call them and make a commitment. If you need one-on-one time to get you on track, find a local PT who will do an outdoors session for you near your hotel or workplace. Call them and make a commitment.
4. Hit the ground running. When you check in, ask the front desk for a map of local run/walk tracks. If the hotel staff doesn’t know, speak to the manager and ask them to get their act together! As soon as you get to your room, change your gear and head out for some exercise. If it’s late, do 30 mins of lunges, squats, pushups followed by stretching in your room. Early morning is always the best time to workout. Let it be known that it's your time, don't let anyone take it away from you. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but make up for it in the evenings if that's the case.
5. You need your sleep. Hide the remote. Hotels make it easy to watch television from your bed. Don’t make it a habit.
6. Buy fruit. Have it in your car. Take it to your hotel room. Take it to the office. It's your snack buddy and possibly a light breakfast rather than hotel buffets or muffins! Staying for a few days? Go shopping. Resist the mini bar!! Find the closest supermarket and do a survival shop. Stock the hotel fridge with yoghurt, fruit, muesli bars, and rice crackers. Anything that will stop you from the temptation of Pringles and Toblerone!
7. Swap the coffee travel mug for your sports water bottle. Take your water bottle from your “travel survival kit” everywhere. Hiring a car at the airport? You’re not ready to leave until the water bottle is in the drink holder. Think of it as an accessory; so treat yourself to something chic.
8. Socializing for work is important. However it can be a trap. No drinks before dinner. That's your time to get out and get active. Limit the alcohol at dinner. Choose small portions. Best to "eat like a prince in the morning and a pauper at night" Big meals late at night are deadly.
9. Share it. Walk the talk, lead the way, and create change. Let it be known that this is how you like to live and encourage your workmates to do the same. Share ideas/tips with your traveling business mates.
Organizing an all day seminar? You are going to be in that conference room for hours, so bring in the PT for a morning outdoor session to kick start the day. Instead of the 3pm sugar hit to counteract the energy slump in the room, bring on a Pilates instructor to stretch, work through some moves to improve posture and reduce tiredness. Include some healthy options for food. It doesn't have to be about eating lettuce leaves, just cut down on the comfort food... fried food, muffins, sweets etc. Plan to leave the day invigorated, not exhausted.
10. Celebrate! Life is for living. Reward yourself for sticking to it. Whatever makes you happy.... book yourself in for a facial or a massage when you are on the road. Don’t wait until you get home. Business travel shouldn’t be about deprivation, make it part of the celebration of healthy living.
PS. If there are any hotel operators out there reading this, please get in touch. This is just the tip of the iceberg for ideas that I have for you on how to make your hotel a healthier place for your guests and your staff. There’s so much you can do, and before you ask… “what will it cost?”…… very little. We’re not talking about investing in bigger, better gyms. We’re talking about customer service.
By Karen Willis, Sharing Bali:Wayan, the owner, is a Balinese artist and sculptor who now spends his time creating the magic of Ayung Sari Indah. The bungalows, gardens, sculptures, food, and staff are all under Wayan’s direction. Karen, his partner, has traded in her career in the fashion world and is now based in Bali, living the dream. Karen is passionate about health and fitness in the outdoors, creating the retreat programs with trainers and Pilates and yoga teachers. Their property, Ayung Sari Indah is located in a small village in the hills, 45 minutes NW of Ubud, Bali.