BGG2WL In NYC: How Do You Remain Active While On Vacation? | A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

BGG2WL In NYC: How Do You Remain Active While On Vacation?

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So, after three long years… I finally got a vacation. A real, bonafide, certified vacation, y’all.

The future Mister, Mini-me, the dogs – Sala and Sushi – and I all packed up and spent ten days in NYC. For a girl like me whose been almost everywhere except NYC? This was quite the experience… so much so, that all of my posts this week are going to be centered around vacationing and how to carry your lifestyle through when you’re no longer in the comfort of your own home.

I always get tons of e-mails asking me how one should work out while they’re on vacation. I mean, sure, if you’ve got access to a gym in a hotel you simply get up an hour earlier and hit the shop… but what if you’re staying with a friend?

I’m a big proponent of the morning workout. Why? Because… I’m vacationing! After that initial wake-up and workout? I’m going to be hellbent on relaxing the rest of the day. I simply don’t trust myself to break that with a workout… which, I’ve got to admit, isn’t always as fun as laying out on the beach or exploring a new city.

Me, Sala and Sushi getting in a (very brief) jog.

But if you don’t have a gym, what do you do? Calisthenics and cardio, baby. Calisthenics are basically activities where you use the body’s weight against itself. Push-ups? Calisthenics. Crunches? Calisthenics. Leg lifts? Calisthenics. Arm raises? Yep, you guessed it. Calisthenics. Of course, if you can manage to get a hold of weights, make use of ‘em! Just don’t feel like you can’t get a good session in if you can’t get a hold of some. And as for cardio? Step outside your front door… and go! Run, walk, train on intervals… just get moving!

That being said… there’s also this interesting thing about a place like NYC that I don’t see too often. (And I’m sure NYCers/visitors may understand where I’m going with this.) I don’t think NYC likes cars very much.

At all, really.

In a city where pedestrians really and truly rule, you can either burn a quarter-tank of gas looking for parking, pay the $26/hr in a parking lot, or figure out how to use that subway and those legs you’ve got. And you’d better make that decision. Quickly.

Y’all know me. I’m cheap. Walking it is.

…and that brings me to another part of this “fitness on vacation” thing. You’ve also got to know how to sneak a little exercise into your vacay, too. Suppose you’ve spent last night out, and wentto bed at 4AM (I’m not saying that happened to me…. but if it did, don’t judge!) The last thing you want to do is wake up at 6AM and work out. I mean, if that’s your thing, then hey – have at it – but if not? (And I wouldn’t be mad at you if it wasn’t.) Then sneaking fitness into your day is definitely going to be a win.

After spending well over a week’s worth of time in a building with no elevator – and having to walk up and down 4 flights of stairs to get to our place at least 3 times a day? I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my booty, thighs and calves didn’t feel the burn. That was a kind of struggle I wasn’t ready for, shoot.

If you’re in a new area? Go exploring… in different directions… every day…on foot. Make the most of your vacation time and go exploring. If you’re in an area that doesn’t really have much, then drive to an area that does… and park. We’d ride the subway to one part of Manhattan, walk across the city, make our way back to where we started by taking different streets in the same direction, and then head home. We easily clocked 8 miles wandering around Brooklyn in one day… another 6 by wandering around Manhattan.  Most of us have smart phones, so grab your favorite GPS app (or head right on over to Google Maps) and plot yourself a path. Get the most out of your time away!

Exercise isn’t solely a bunch of stiff and rigorous activities with repetitive motions and minimal context. Not only that, but you can definitely remain active without those same stiff activities. The bottom line is that you get (and stay) moving as much as possible, and that you enjoy yourself while you do it! You are on vacation anyway, and that’s what you’re there to do… right?!

What about you – how do you remain active while you’re away from home?

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She now lives in New York with her family, and is working on her 4th, 5th and 6th certificates.

18 Comments

  1. Erica

    August 15, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    We recently visited Charleston (more accurately, Mount Pleasant) SC with my in-laws. If it had been me, spouse, and kids, we would have rented bikes and pedaled around Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms and had a really good (if hot/sweaty) time outdoors. My mother-in-law thought that was one of the most hilarious things she’d ever heard, then when she realized I was serious… just another in a long list of reasons she thinks I’m a lunatic, I guess.

    I’ve rented bikes on vacation before once, when we visited Martha’s Vineyard — obviously this is something that is a better or worse idea, depending on terrain and traffic and prevalence of bike racks, but it’s a lot of fun! Even on our “drive everywhere at all times” trip, I managed to do a walk now and then simply by saying, “Hey, this looks neat over there!” and wandering off with the kids. (And any visit to a museum involved walking, a lot… just take stairs instead of waiting for the ridiculously-slow-anyway elevator.)

  2. Nicole

    August 15, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Hope you enjoyed your vacation! NYC is one of my favorite places to go for the record. I have also found that while on vacation morning workouts are best for me. I generally make an effort to book a hotel with a gym. When I go out of the country, I usually book a hotel on the beach, and let me tell you the 5am beach jog/run is AMAZING for me. I don’t get this often in Chicago, due to the long, cold winters. I love it and it adds a little “something” to taking in the beach. Yep, when in NYC, I walk. Alot. Sounds like you had a blast, and well deserved.

  3. CJM

    August 15, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    Cosigning on exploring on foot! I always think the vacation time not spent working on reports or whatever you do for a living opens you up to time and energy to actively explore your new surroundings. So in addition to sleeping in,I tend to be more active on vacation (even if its a day trip to the beach I tend to trudge through the sand a lot longer than planned). Recently went on a vacation to a land filled with pasta, cheese, pizza, and wine. If the fish didn’t look good on a restaurant’s menu I defaulted to one of the previously mentioned 4 food groups (even had two meals that were only cheese and wine…). Either way, I also walked everywhere on this trip. In the first two days I covered over 12 miles on foot (lost and constantly retracing your steps has health benefits). Add to that I was in a city that had no flat surfaces. One day I walked 2 miles to a tour company which led me on an 18mi bike ride in the countryside, hills and all. I resisted taking a cab back to my hotel since there was still daylight out and walked the two miles back and climbed the stairs to my 7th floor room (really slow elevator). I even paid to climb to the top of a dome to look out over the city (what was I thinking). Not once did I set out to workout (knew the bike ride would be a workout but I did it to see the sites). So I got home thinking pasta+pizza+cheese+gallons of wine = 5 lbs gained. Well I went 5 lbs in the opposite direction and thought it had to be the result of the dehydration we experience when we fly. I’ve been back a month and its still gone so I guess the ramp up in activity really did burn something. Oh and I’m also now taking the stairs in my office (yippee) and am not drinking diet soda much. Those are lifestyle changes for someone tied to her car/elevator/desk chair/coke zero.

  4. Erika Nicole Kendall

    August 15, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Mmhmm… y’all are fancy. LOL!

    Giving me all KINDS of ideas!

  5. Paulette

    August 15, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    I have trained my family to always book a hotel that has a gym in it. That way I can get up early to get my sweat in before everyone is ready to go out for the day. I am so blessed that they are supportive of my journey.
    This year we are going to Seattle and we do not need to stay with family. Staying with family sometimes complicates things when you want to be a good guest and not have your fitness regime overtake the entire household. I know others might not be so lucky.
    The best thing is to have the conversation on what is available to you and what the family schedule is ahead of time. On my most recent trip to see family back east, I brought my running shoes and quietly slipped out before most had waken. My mantra is to keep moving somehow.

  6. Eliza

    August 15, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Another idea is to take advantage of those free 3 to 7 day guest passes they have at gyms. My hubby and I have a regular workout routine so we didn’t want to stop our workout just because we were on vacation so we went to Bally Total Fitness and got their guest past. They also had daycare for our baby, and it was only 3 dollars a day! We were in Chicago so we also did A LOT of walking…

  7. Rooo

    August 15, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    I wish you’d told me you were going to be here. I’d have invited you to Pilates class, my treat. With an instructor of color (they have those now, LOL).

    P.S. Did you get my email? I sent it awhile back.

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      August 15, 2011 at 8:09 PM

      I got it, sent out the bat signal and got no reply. :(

      Gonna do a post about it, though. We’ll see what comes up.

  8. Kait

    August 15, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Beau and I always pick places where we can be more active… we love cities we can explore on foot (my fave was Amsterdam because our tour book had a great walking four section to all these secret gardens and markets) and areas with boy peaks and miles of hiking trails. Even as a kid, momma always took us on walking tours (or hiking a waterfall in Jamaica).

    I think one of the my favorite things about shifting my views on fitness and food has been an opening-of- my-eyes (so to speak) to other forms of working out such as helping friend paint and move or harvesting veggies on alocal farm! :)

  9. Lily Fluffbottom

    August 15, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    I personally think planning vacations around races is a great way to stay active. It keeps you motivated to stay in shape/get in shape before you leave, keep your taper on when you get there, and then recover by relaxing.

  10. Renee

    August 15, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    There are some cities that are made for pedestrians….even if they happen to have great public transportation. Cities like Prague, Paris and Rome are idea for walking. In fact, you could literally walk everywhere in these cities or any other metropolitan city. The bonus is that you get to see so many beautiful landmarks….famous and not so…which makes it that much more interesting. I will only rent a car if I know that I will be visiting spots with wide open spaces….like deserts or mountains. I’m off to Jackson Hole later this month and I can’t wait to visit Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons….so I will definitely be renting the Jeep Compass! Kait brings up a good point, I love to check out frommers.com for a suggested walking tour for the city I plan to visit.

  11. seejanesweat

    August 15, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    I take the stairs. While at the beach, we stayed in an 18 floor hotel. I went up and down 10 times. I also make sure there is a gym and if not, I’ll do one of my workouts in my room.

  12. Gloria

    August 15, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Well…running has been my comfort exercise since I was 15, so my plan for exercise while on vacation is pretty similar to my plan for exercise while at home: run every day, and if other workout options are made available to me, take them, lol. When I was in high school, my family’s summer getaways always intersected with my cross country training. If we went on a cruise, I would run on the track on top of the cruise. If we went to stay at my grandmother’s house, I would run at the local city college track or around the lake near her house. If we went to Yosemite, I would run while the rest of my family rode bikes (this helped a lot with increasing my speed, lol). I agree that staying at a hotel that has a gym is often the easiest method of ensuring I get my workout in, but when that’s not an option, running usually is (usually…there are some places that we’ve traveled to in which I don’t feel comfortable running, due to weather, traffic, or simply not feeling safe as a young woman running alone). I can also do yoga, pilates, jumping jacks (I think it takes about 800 jumping jacks to burn 100 calories), squats, push ups, and sit ups from the comfort of my own room (or right outside my room, since I’m usually sharing a room with someone else).

    I just downloaded the Nike Training Club app onto my phone, and I have to say that I really, really like it. They have cardio workouts, toning workouts, strength training workouts, and targeted workouts (for specific body areas) all in that single app. They have videos showing you how to do each individual exercise so that you aren’t left feeling confused, and many of the workouts don’t require any exercise equipment. I could see it being very helpful during vacations.

  13. LBC

    August 16, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    I must be vacationing wrong, because I’m always way more active on vacation than I am at home. Of course, I have a desk job, so it would be hard for me to be less active in any setting than I am during the work-week. I spent ten days in Italy living on bread and cheese, and lost two pounds. I didn’t go out of my way to indulge, but I wasn’t tracking calories closely, either.

    Vacations around here invariably involve lots of sight-seeing, which means walking. Even a trip to the beach would include walking around looking for shells, pebbles, birds, etc. I also hate driving in strange cities so if there is an opportunity for me to park somewhere and see a lot of stuff on foot, I’m going to do that.

  14. Andrea Plaid

    August 16, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    Welcome to the Big Apple, Erika! Yes, New York is not a “car town,” far less than Ft. Lauderdale and Miami and quite a few cities and towns in the Midwest. :-D Furthermore, not only are we walkers, we’re notoriously fast walkers. As obnoxious as visitors find this–no, NYers very rarely say “excuse me” when we bump into you as we’re walking–come to find out there’s a health benefit to all that fast walking (though not with the lack of manners):

    http://nymag.com/news/features/35815/index1.html

    And stairs? Got ‘em for days! Even I, as a person living here, take advantage of them as a form of cardio, not just a means to get me to the trains. NYC is also becoming a biker’s city, with designated bike lanes. And you can just about find whatever exercise activity you’re into here almost 24 hours a day: bellydancing, pole dancing, pilates, weights, aerial yoga. And probably at a low cost, if not free. I know of free yoga sessions in parks and Yoga for the People, which asks for a $5 donation.

    I’m so thrilled you and your fam is here!

  15. Fitempress

    August 16, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    I’ve vacationed in New York before and getting in the exercise during the vaca is not an issue since most of my vacation is centered around shopping and shopping in New York ….hunting for deals means WALKING!!! Now shopping makes the “exercise” fly past without u even realising u did it! lol I love New York!

  16. Eva

    August 17, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    Hope you enjoyed your time here. Yes, NYC doesn’t like cars, at all. There was once a movement to put a highway in the middle of Manhattan, but people protested it so the idea was scrapped. The other boroughs of NYC do have highways going through it and, at least in the Bronx, it ruined neighborhoods.

  17. Nicole

    February 20, 2013 at 2:58 AM

    As it happens, I was just in New York and spent all of my Wednesday from 11 in the morning until 6 when I arrived at the airport on my feet (with a very few notable exceptions). Every part of my lower body was burning from all the walking I did. Not to mention the added upper body work traveling on the subway and AirTrain with my luggage. Best accidental workout I’ve ever had.

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