Black Belt at Home Blog
Training While Traveling: A Guide for Martial Artists on the Road
Travel a lot for work? Going on a vacation soon? You’ve probably found it tough to continue proper martial arts training, exercise, and healthy nutrition while on the road. This is because you are out of your regular schedule….you probably say “I’ll be fine not working out this week”, or “ah, I’ll do my katas when I get back”, or “screw bo training, this is Vegas baby!” Well, maybe you don’t say that one.
Road. Warrior. – You CAN Have Both at the Same Time
I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, mostly regional – visiting schools across Texas. In the last few years, I have also done quite a bit of traveling (for business and pleasure) around the nation, Mexico, and some in Europe. I like to keep up a practical martial arts and fitness regimen while out of town – something that has served me quite well.
This may sound funny, but some of my HEALTHIEST times have been vacations to all-inclusive resorts or on cruises. This is because I finally have more time for myself, freshly prepared food (with a large selection of healthy choices, without any work on my part), access to a fitness center or workout area within quick walking distance, and the lack of stress from working. I do find that working out while on busy business trips is the most challenging. In this guide, I am going to share with you what works for me, and some extremely practical and direct advice on training while you travel.
What to Bring With You
I keep it tight and light. When traveling by plane or rail, I just bring a carryon size rolling piece of luggage and a messenger bag/or a backpack. You don’t really need any equipment for your training – even if you are doing weapons…well, we will get into that later. If you are staying in a hotel with a fitness center – that is an option (at least for some cardio), but often times I prefer to just workout in my room. Here is what I always bring with me:
- Workout Shoes – I really like my pair of adidas adipures. These are “five finger” shoes that feel really light, flexible, and seem perfect for martial arts. You can actually flex your foot for round kicks, side kicks, knees, etc. – just as if you were barefooted. These also take up very little space and are lightweight. You could bring any athletic style shoes, kung fu shoes, or even yoga socks if you prefer. But, I DO NOT recommend working out barefoot, as the floor could possibly be filled with bacteria, not a good end to your trip…
- Light Clothes – I usually just bring two pairs of exercise shorts and a t shirt. If you plan on running outdoors, bring some jogging pants and a light jacket. But you don’t really need anything fancy, if you are going to workout inside of your hotel room (or cabin, bungalow, tent, hostel….)
- A Room – If your hotel room has enough room for exercise, this is perfect. I just moved the coffee table out of the way in this last trip, which you can see in this picture. Some hotel rooms can be extremely small, especially in Europe. In this case, go to the workout room, or ask the front desk if you could possibly pop into the meeting room or another empty space that no one is using. That’s right – they’ll probably say yes in most cases. You really do not need very much space. If there happens to be a public park nearby, that is a possibility.
- A Tablet/iPad or Computer – Or even just a smartphone. I only travel with my iPad now – its smaller, and easier for me. It also forces me to focus on my trip/task at hand, while on the road, and keeps me in the NOW. When I have my full featured laptop, I may go out on a tangent and start some new work project, when it should not have happened. I ONLY go to hotels that include free wi-fi. If internet is not available, there are other options we will discuss… If you have our home study courses on DVD, bring your DVDs and a portable DVD player of your laptop – so that you can watch these anywhere!
- Water – Many places that I have visited (cough, Mexico, very loud cough) have extremely questionable and dangerous water supplies. Water is the absolute most essential substance for your body – and you need to over gorge while out of town. I bring a few gallons with me in my car if driving. Or if flying, I go to a grocery store and buy some water.
- Healthy Food – When on a driving trip, I bring a cooler with food. This saves me money, time, and steers me from fast food temptation! Of course, you may very well be going out to lunch or dinner while on this trip – obviously that fine. But what about small snacks? Are you going to pop into dunkin for a Boston creme one day…starbucks, or mcDs for a quick McProcessedChicken? The point is, prepare or despair the poorly chosen fare. I usually bring: a large container of cut fruit – cantaloupe, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, apples (which was washed and preserved in vinegar ahead of time by my wife); greek yogurt, peanut butter, preserves, wheat bread, carrots, almonds, pistachios, and other items. With this I can eat small meals or healthy snacks.
- Your Martial Arts Goals/Workouts/Training – Have any training manuals, syllabi, and other materials with you. If you have printed workouts or materials, this will keep you solid and on task. Let’s say that you are currently a brown belt in Complete Shotokan Karate, you would want to have your training DVDs and manual with you – or at least a device to train along with via streaming video. I don’t bring too many other physical items, as I keep everything I need on my iPad digitally.
An Example of My Day While Out of Town
Here I will share with you a “typical day” for me while out of town – this can vary a lot, but take it for what it is worth.
6:50 am – Wake up, pray, meditate, stretch, get dressed
7:10 am – Eat a Light Breakfast (fruit, yogurt, eggs if available, 1/2 cup of coffee)
7:30 am – Personal Hygiene
7:45 am – On my Way to the Day’s Event of Location
4:00 pm – Return to Hotel, Eat a Power Snack (nuts/fruits/peanut butter)
4:30 pm – Workout with Martial Arts Training [warm up, kickboxing, cool down]
5:15 pm – Yoga or Tai Chi
5:30 pm – Respond to All Emails/Computer Work
6:00 pm – Dinner….etc…
This was basically the day I had today — as I am typing this in a hotel room, and just worked out with some yoga afterwards. My martial arts training or fitness will depend on what my goals are. Currently, I am studying yoga and tai chi quite a bit. I have been knocked out by a difficult groin injury for the last year, and have found yoga to be extremely helpful as I recover. I am also now realizing the power of tai chi (which has similar qualities to yoga, but is different).
You may prefer working out in the morning – I also do this when I have a “late start” – or afternoon and evening engagements. Do what works for you. Also one day I do an “intense workout” – the next day is lighter and more emphasis on flexibility and bodily energy (yoga or tai chi). This one day on, one day off is much more practical while on the road. As, after a full day, you can be pretty beat down, especially when away from your home, friends, and family for so long.
What Workouts & Training Programs Do I Use While Traveling?
So far, I have given you a lot of general tips, but you still may be confused as to what I actually do as my workout. This will vary, but below are the main sources of my workouts and training programs.
- Cardio/Bodyweight Workouts – Whenever I purely want to get exercise in, work up a sweat, and even workout my various muscle groups, I love to train with Fitness Blender workouts. Fitness Blender is a free youtube channel which has hundreds of full length cardio, toning, and other styles of workouts. I just choose a workout on YouTube and follow along while watching on my iPad. Not sure which workout to use from their massive collection? Here are some recommendations –
- For Cardio & Kickboxing – https://youtu.be/UuUBRP3g73A – This 27 minute workout is not too intense, but is sure to get you going, including warm up and stretching at the end for you.
- Low Impact Cardio – https://youtu.be/FXthVpqzacw – Easier to follow along with, even if you are just now getting back into shape. I used this workout to ease me back into bodyweight movements while recovering from a groin injury.
- Intermediate Intensity Cardio/Total Body HIIT Workout – https://youtu.be/ohGC3AXIlRw – High intensity interval training workouts take you from one exercise to the next, with short rest periods; they are perfect for cardio bursts.
- Advance Intensity Card/HIIT – https://youtu.be/nDvMxuT6EVg – This workout will really push you, and you will feel great afterwards!
- Special thanks to Daniel and Kelli for creating such amazing content for free.
- Krav Maga Cardio Workouts – Currently I only have two full length Krav Maga workouts. These are not designed to teach you Krav, but actually use the motions to work you out hard. Even better, by constantly getting repetition while your body is being fatigued, you are building up muscle memory and creative instinctual reactions in the event of a real situation. You can get both workouts on The Krav Maga Workout DVD, or try one free right now, on YouTube.
- The Krav Maga Workout – https://youtu.be/oKi2Vh9rqt0 – a workout that I created with a full warm up, cardio krav sections, toning, and cool down. So for 30,000 views and counting on YouTube. Try this workout today, it just takes 25 minutes!
- Home Study Training (Shotokan Karate, Bo, Nunchakus, Krav Maga, Tai Chi) – You can actually follow along with any of our home study courses with our new streaming video version, and watch on any mobile device or computer. Or, bring So, when I want to train and review some materials in Sensei Jon’s new Tai Chi program (which releases this Spring), I simply pull out my iPad, login to my Gumroad account (our streaming video platform), and choose a video.
- Shotokan Karate Streaming Video while Traveling – Are you a karate student who is currently training in the home study course with Sensei Jon towards black belt? While on the road, simply pull out your smartphone, tablet, or computer and you can watch the complete training program instantly. That is, if you purchased the streaming option. If you happened to buy the DVD option, but want to ADD ON the streaming version, just contact us and we can do this at a discount.
- Ultimate Bo Streaming Video or DVDs while Traveling – Why not practice your bo staff forms while on the road? Well, first of all, you may or may not bring a bo with you. Do NOT practice in your hotel room, as you will risk breaking something. You can use a kali stick, or half of a broom stick and simulate the entire kata, though. Of you can air practice. Interesting enough, you do not actually have to be holding the weapon to improve. Your brain and muscle memory make a connection each time you simulate an entire kata – so that next time you pick up your staff, you will be more fluid.
- Krav Maga Streaming Video or DVDs while Traveling – Make sure and bring your DVDs or login to streaming video while on the road. Krav is not only good for self defense and raising your awareness, but for total fitness. I recommend doing the “follow along classes” while in your hotel room; or practicing specific self defense techniques with a friend or family member!
- Ultimate Chuks Streaming Video or DVDs while Traveling – Remember that it is illegal to carry nunchakus in many states and nations. I recommend carrying a padded practice pair, and leaving any combat style chuks at home (unless you are on your way to a national tournament or something like this). You can also practice your nunchaku motions with a long sock or something similar; but a padded pair is recommended.
- Complete Tai Chi training while Traveling – Our complete Tai Chi course (which has not yet released at time of writing) is PERFECT and very much recommended while traveling and at home. It is commonly thought that only seniors and the elderly get benefits from this slow, breathing, power art – this is simply not true. I am in my 20s and do Tai Chi as a way to connect to the present moment at a deeper level, clear any negativities, get extremely focused in the now, relax my entire body, and improve breathing and energy. I have been using Sensei Jon’s Tai Chi program during the pre release and testing phase, and have not felt better and more positive while on the road. I can’t stress the importance of at least TRYING a Tai Chi segment of 5 minutes and just feeling your body afterwards. If you also realize the amazing potential, I urge you to pick up the DVD home study course, or streaming for this groundbreaking series.
Some Final Tips
Although traveling can be hectic and stressful for many – I find it is one of the most calm, powerful, and healing times of my days. By bringing healthy food with my – I end up feeling better, staying on track, saving time, and saving money. By having consistent workouts and training – I continue my martial arts progress, and feel more energized for events of the trip. Here are a few more tips:
- Read/Learn – if on vacation especially, take this chance, when you don’t have a “care in the world” to read a new book. Or expand your understanding in an arena that matters to you. It has been difficult to find time to read at home, as I have two young children, so when traveling, I actually get to read a bit more.
- Relax – Of course, you need to release all inhibitions and worries. Just stroll around the town, get a massage, play a round of golf, slid in the hot tub, just stop thinking and relax.
- Go Outdoors – I find that I am stuck inside on many trips, hotel room, meetings, and everything seems to be inside. Find a local park and just walk around. If there is a special natural area, garden, state park, historical site – go and be outside (weather permitting of course)
- Sightsee and Take in the Local Area – If I have a ½ day, or a whole day off, this can be a great opportunity to take in the local scene.