Yoga in a remote town in Mexico

Yoga in a remote town in Mexico

Earlier this summer, I had the good fortune of spending two wonderful weeks in beautiful, culturally rich Mexican city of Puerto Vallarta. In the months before the trip, I had made a valiant effort to get in really good shape working with a personal trainer and attending a circuit classes to improve my strength, continuing to do yoga for strength, peace of mind and flexibility, and adding back in running (post-injury) and biking to round out my exercise regime.

Some time away in paradise was just what the doctor ordered — but I didn’t want to lose the fitness I’d worked so hard to build — so I asked my trainer for some ideas about workouts I could do while I was away. With the extra calories from beach cocktails coupled with the incredible gym our resort ended up having, I was really glad I did as I was able to get in some great workouts that make me feel much less guilty when I ordered my happy hour margarita.

Step One is to pack your running shoes and then follow this schedule to help you stay in shape during your upcoming vacations. I do not recommend doing any of these for the first time on vacation.  Only do things you already do as part of your normal workout routine.


The plan is for a seven day vacation but double up on some of the days if you are traveling for longer.

Day One: Focus on the travel

This is a travel day so I never expect having enough left over energy to do a big workout. While in the airport, skip the people movers and walk.  Wear supportive shoes and spend your layovers exploring the airport on foot. If you have your family with you, I suggest taking a stroller for younger kids to make exploring the airport with them easier. Drink lots of water as it is easy to become dehydrated during travel and you want to be ready to go for Day Two’s workout (and vacation, of course.)

Day Two:  Running plus abs

30 – 45 minute run

100 X abs

Now you are probably feeling a mixture of exhaustion from the day of travel coupled with the desire to get back into your exercise routine. For that reason, I prescribe a cardio-intensive workout with some ab work at the end. I highly recommend going for a run on the first morning in your temporary location to explore the area and find places you want to check out in more detail with your traveling companions later in the trip. By doing this, I’ve stumbled on some lesser publicized cultural points of interest that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. It’s also a great way to purge your body of the icky feeling of sitting on airplanes and schlepping your stuff through airports and start your vacation feeling great!

For your 100 ab exercises, choose from any of your favorite ab exercises, those from The Best Ab Workout Ever or the 8-minute abs on youtube.  Feel free to do more than 100. I personally like to go for 200 if I’m feeling good, but think of 100 as your minimum.


Day Three: Cardio plus strength training

30 minutes of cardio

15 – 20 minutes of strength training

The cardio is obviously going to vary depending on access to a gym. Inside of a gym, a stair machine, rowing machine or stationary bike are great cardio options. When there is no gym available, running, power walking, renting a bicycle or swimming in the hotel pool work great. If you need to stay in the room to watch kids or for safety reasons, jumping jacks, burpees, or running in place will do the trick, although I have to admit, I don’t think I could keep doing those for 30 minutes straight.

The key to this day is really doing the strength training.  I like this routine from tribesports that I found on twitter a few months ago. It incorporates a bit of cardio with the jumping jacks as well. Don’t forget to repeat the sequence three times.

warrior-workoutBy the end of the third wall squat, your legs should be shaking and burning but just keep thinking about the poolside margarita that awaits you.


Day Four:  Yoga

When I am at home, I try and do yoga one or two days a week. It keeps me strong, flexible and sane. If I go an entire week without yoga, I will survive, but I’m pretty sure I won’t feel as good as when I am able to do yoga. For this reason, on all of my recent trips, both business and pleasure, I’ve made a point of fitting in a yoga practice or two.

If you are in a location that has a yoga class, sign yourself up! That is not always possible so another option is to find an online class. I’ve recently discovered My Yoga Online where you can stream classes directly to your internet connected device as well as purchase and download classes ahead of your trip if you will not have an internet connection.

If you don’t have a computer or smart phone with internet access with you, a last resort is to follow a class routine from memory, which is what I ended up doing in Mexico. We went on a family-oriented tour to a remote location called Las Caletas. There were a lot of different activity options including yoga, however the class didn’t end up happening for some reason. I borrowed a yoga mat and did my “hot yoga” routine I do multiple times a week back home.

In the event you do not have a yoga routine programmed in memory, pick some of your favorite poses or just start doing sun salutations on repeat.


Day Five: Run or Workout DVD

Another great day for a run or if you are not up for it, I like to bring along a workout DVD like the vintage TaeBo or my recent favorite, 30 Day Shred. I’ve found such DVDs especially convenient in locations like secluded beaches where there is not a lot of running room and I don’t feel comfortable enough running in the middle of the jungle by myself or on a busy road, especially in a foreign country.
A note on converting DVDs. Unless I am traveling for work, I don’t typically carry a computer that has a CD/DVD ROM drive.  When on a family vacation, we bring a combination of iPad, MacBook Air, Nook, Nexus 7, Chromebook, Kindle (we have all types of devices at our house, it is really quite ridiculous!) none of which have a CD/DVD ROM drive. To convert physical DVDs to digital files you can store on your DVD ROM-less devices, I usually Google how to do it as the technologies change. Here is a link with the latest instructions.

Day Six:  Cardio Cross Training plus strength training

If you do not have access to a gym with weights, you probably want to repeat Day Three, although there will be a few things you can incorporate from the exercises below. Depending on how much time you have, start with 10 – 30 minutes of running, biking, elliptical, rowing, swimming, jumping jacks or whatever you prefer. It is vacation, after all, so choose what you enjoy most.

Once you have warmed up, its time for some strength training. Choose three exercises each of arms, legs and core (at medium weight when applicable) and create three sets of a combination of each. So, for example,

Set 1:

Arm Exercise x 15

Legs Exercise x 15

Core Exercise x 15

Arm Exercise x 15

Legs Exercise x 15

Core Exercise x 15

Arm Exercise x 15

Legs Exercise x 15

Core Exercise x 15

Then for Sets 2 and 3 choose different exercises for each of arms, legs and core.

As for which exercises to choose from, here are some of my favorites for each:


o   Tricep overhead presses
§  Keep elbows close (frame your face), chest up
o   Dips on bench
§  Keep bum close to bench – knees out or bent under hips.  This is a great one that you can even do from your hotel room using a coffee table or couch.
o   Step ups with overhead press
§  Slow & controlled – lower down as slowly as possible.  You can step up on a weight bench or other elevated step.  This one can count for both Arms and Legs.
o   Chest press on large ball
§  Feet wide, hips can sit at tabletop or let them sink down so your back is arched around ball – weights stay @ bra line (not neck)


o   Step lunges with bicep hammer curl (**weight stays vertical)
§  Knees 90-90; step forward & lunge straight down, strong core to hammer curl
o   Straight leg deadlifts with dumbbells
§  Keep knees locked, push bum back behind your ankles – chest up & shoulders back — **lead with your chest**)
o   Squats
§  Feel free to hold some weight to your chest if you are feeling really ambitious.  Make sure your weight is in your heels as you squat.


§  Bicycles (think shoulder to knee – keep elbows wide)
§  V-ups
Day Seven:  Travel

Repeat Day One in reverse and revel in the fact that you didn’t lose any fitness while on vacation.

And for once, you will exit vacation in better shape then when you left home.  Happy Vacation Workouts!