How to Stay Fit While Traveling, with Expert Tips from a Barry’s Chief Instructor

Keeping up with a fitness routine while traveling is no easy feat. From jet lag and long layovers to food tours and late nights out, indulging in the fun of travel while also prioritizing workouts can be hard to balance. However, that doesn’t mean it’s totally unachievable. Matthew Griffin, the chief instructor at Barry’s New York City, knows this to be true. A frequent traveler and fitness lover, he shared his top tips for keeping his health and fitness a priority while exploring the world, one step at a time. Ahead, check out our exclusive interview. 

What Are Exercises or Routines That Keep You In Shape While Traveling?

“I’m a very conscious traveler. I seek out the hidden Shangri-la’s of the world and deep dive into their exploration. Because of this, I tend to have a very active travel experience (i.e. early morning hikes, swimming, rock climbing). This August, I plan to disappear on a secluded Greek island to surf for a couple of weeks (followed by many spanakopitas- of course).” 

How Do You Manage Jet Lag?

“The first day is the most challenging. Sleeping on the plane for me is nearly impossible. So I try my absolute best to push through the first day without napping. After that first night’s sleep – I’m ready to go. Day one is for adjusting to a new environment; worry about the workouts tomorrow.”

Is Sticking to a Workout Routine Hard?

“Absolutely – I’m a daily gym attendee. With the nature of my travel experiences, it’s rare there are gym facilities available to me. I try to stick to my regimen as much as possible BEFORE my trip, in anticipation of that absence, and jump back in as soon as I’m home. With that said, embrace the change in routine. Rest is just as important to your body as activity. We tend to overlook that (myself included). Welcome those moments of recovery and reap the benefits of a more functional form of fitness and movement by exploring a new environment.”

What Fitness Apps Do You Find Helpful?

“The only thing I use my phone for on my travels is for directions and to take pictures. Other than that, a disconnect from a constant state of being ‘plugged in’ is very mentally freeing for me. I use that as a time to connect to myself and listen to my body. What does it need; what makes it feel good? Save the apps for your everyday life and get lost in the adventure. Go hike, swim, climb a rock, walk around a new city. We all need to look up from our screens a little more and be present in the moment.”

What Fitness Items Do You Take on Your Travels?

“Bands are great. I always carry-on ONLY, and I can easily squeeze a couple of bands into my duffle. Also- don’t underestimate the power of a towel and a slick surface floor. I’m a huge fan of Pilates and there’s a ton of great exercises you can do on the floor of your room with a towel.”

How Do You Fit in Workouts During Busy Travel Days?

“On tight travel days, if possible, I love to wake up early and do some core work, body weight push-ups, and some Pilates mat exercises in my room. In anticipation of a long travel day, I make sure to stock up on healthy meal options to offset the lack of physical activity. I always bring my own food/snacks on the plane and make sure I have a protein powder pack to mix with water for a quick and easy meal option that can easily fit in my carry-on.”

How Do You Maintain a Healthy Balance Between Trying Local Cuisine and Sticking to Your Fitness Goals While Traveling?

“To be honest, I don’t. I think food is an invitation to participate in culture and I like to embrace it fully. I don’t want to prevent myself from stepping out of my routine and enjoying something special. With that said, it is reserved for something special. Before my travels, I increase the intensity of my workouts and nutrition in anticipation of that change. Don’t miss out on something wonderful – a week or two of eating outside your comfort zone won’t set you back. Not to mention, the food is usually fresh, local, and nutritionally fulfilling. It’s the common misconception that fitness and health lie in the extremes; constant healthy eating, and constant exercise. For me, I’m a firm believer that true wellness lies right in the middle. It’s a balance of everything. For the work you put in, you get to play too. So indulge in local delicacies, savor every bite, and explore every corner.”

– As told to by Lauren Harano

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