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Travel Light, Stay Fit Travel Light, Stay Fit
Michael Stefano

When away from home sticking to your workout program can be a major problem. Most exercise equipment is far from portable. Even small handheld weights can overburden an already bursting suitcase.

When traveling and staying at a five-star hotel you can probably use the facilities, but most of us would rather not spend half the morning waiting for a turn on the treadmill. With a few simple adjustments, you can turn any vacation day into a productive workout day.

Your own bodyweight can produce all the resistance necessary to challenge your limits of strength and endurance. With the addition of some very lightweight, inexpensive items, you can also provide yourself with a great degree of variety, and therefore, a more effective approach. For a great year-round program, >click here.

Resistance bands, or tubing, have been popular with physical therapist for years, as they offer a safe way to challenge muscles when recovering from injury by not placing undue strain on surrounding joints. Lengths of tubing come in various resistance levels, weigh almost nothing and take up virtually no space. When combined with a simple door anchor, bands make available a wide variety of exercise options. At home as well, they represent a handy substitute for bulky, more expensive forms of resistance equipment.

An exercise mat is a must-have. Put it between yourself and any hotel room floor. Inexpensive rubber mats tri-fold, and fit nicely folded into a traveling bag. It can be used to do push-ups on a sandy surface or sit-ups on an unpadded floor. A good mat will also provide solid traction and footing for many simple floor type exercises.

A sunny day spent walking around any big city is a plethora of sights, sounds and beautiful experiences. Without a specific destination, my girlfriend and I lace up our walking shoes and hop on the Long Island Railroad into Manhattan's Penn Station. We feel like we're on vacation as we comb the town on foot, thoroughly enjoying the sites and sounds of the bustling big city, all the while burning lots of calories.

So go ahead and enjoy yourself. Go on vacation. Take day-trips. The amount of stress relief you'll gain from enjoying life will be well worth a few missed workouts. In the process, you can continue to be active and exercise, as well as introduce some possibly much-need variety into your program.


1.Push-Up: Chest/Arms/Shoulders
Lie face down on the floor or mat, hands on the floor, palms down, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and toes curled under on the floor. Your back and legs are straight. Exhale as you slowly straighten your arms and push your body away from the floor. Inhale, lowering yourself back down to the point where your chest comes within a few inches of the floor. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 10 to 20 repetitions). To reduce overall intensity, perform the modified push-up instead of the classic version. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 10 to 20 repetitions).

1a. Modified Push-Up
Everything as with a regular push-up remains the same, except the knees are bent and remain on the floor throughout the movement instead of the feet. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 10 to 20 repetitions or more).

2. Leg Raise: Abs/Core
Lie supine on a mat or padded carpet, legs straight, both hands under your buttocks to help maintain the proper pelvic tilt (engages abs), while you press the lower back into the floor. With your head held off the floor a few inches, (if necessary, place a mat or pillow under the neck for support) exhale as you bring your knees to your chest. Inhale as you straighten your legs to a point where your feet are a few inches off the floor, then bring back into the chest. Ankle weights will increase intensity, while the knees can remain partially bent throughout the movement to reduce it. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 20 to 30 repetitions).

3. Cable Row: Arms/Back/Shoulders
Sit on the floor, legs straight out in front of you, upper body upright and the resistance tubing wrapped around your feet (or other safe anchor). Grab onto the ends of the tubing with both hands, exhale and pull hands into your abdomen. Inhale as you slowly return to the starting position. Motions should all be slow and deliberate. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 10 to 20 repetitions).

4. Rearward Lunge: Thighs/Hips/Buttocks
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides. Inhale and take a large step backward with the left foot to a point where your left knee is a few inches above the floor (or as close as you can comfortably go) and your right knee does not extend past the toes of your right foot. Your hands remain at your sides, gaze forward. Exhale and step forward with the left leg returning to the starting position. Finish all reps with the left leg before repeating with the right. To make the movement less difficult, alternate legs from rep to rep. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 10 to 20 repetitions).

Travel Light Exercise Guidelines
·Warm up with 5 minutes of walking or stepping in place
·Do all four exercises once, twice, or three times through
·Rest from one to three minutes between each set
·Rest at least 48 hours before repeating
·Combine with brisk walking/jogging on the same or alternate days

My personalized workout program is based on whatever equipment you have. To check it out, click the appropriate link: >firefighters | >non-firefighters

Remember, exercising intensely can be dangerous. Check with your physician and get clearance before beginning any new program.

Custom Workouts by Fitness Pro, Mike Stefano MICHAEL STEFANO is the creator and author of the Firefighter's Workout (Harper Collins 2000). Mr. Stefano is a health and fitness writer, contributor to eDiets, eFitness, and Firehouse.Com. Michael's articles have appeared on AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! His workouts have been featured in magazine and newspapers from around the country, as well as in numerous network and cable TV segments. He also offers an online version of his custom program, via a comprehensive 22-point fitness profile.

Mike offers personalized workouts for firefighters, candidates, and civilians.


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