Where You Go Your Gym Goes

Between power-packed boardroom sessions and tiring transits, the average business traveller today also packs in a mean punch, with squeeze-to-fit workouts and his trusted gym-in-a-bag. These road warriors take their fitness very seriously, not only because it helps them handle the travails of travel better, but also, it helps when you walk into a meeting looking like a million bucks.

Funny-businessman-ResizeThe average Indian business traveller today refuses to board his flight without his trusted tracks, workout shoes, and a mini-gym neatly tucked away in his luggage. Not surprisingly, when he chooses a hotel, one of the first things he checks for is the fitness centre. And if that weren’t quite enough, he also makes ample use of airport-time to work out his biceps- laptop in one hand, and dumbbell in the other.

According to a recent survey of Asian travellers, 85 percent of Indian businessmen claimed they went to the fitness centres in the hotels they stayed in. Surprisingly, this was way above the average for the Asia Pacific region. Well, on second thoughts, not so surprising.

Take for instance, Vince M Jose, Director, Plus Business Machines Ltd, who revealed, “Ever since I started working out some years back, my day doesn’t feel complete if I don’t pump some iron. In hotels, I find hitting the gym is the best way to spend my time, especially after an entire day of sitting down at meetings. In case there is no proper gym facility, I use anything from the walls to tables, to do push-ups and stretches. Of course, when things are very hectic, I try to alternate between three days of good working out and yoga.”

Akshay Chaudhary, Director- Ardor Restaurant, on the other hand, is very particular about the hotel he chooses, in terms of the fitness benefits it offers. He said, “Fitness is very important to me. I make sure I jog every morning and hit the gym three-four times a week. I concentrate on muscular exercises when on the road, and always ensure the swimming pool and gym facilities are in place before choosing which hotel to stay in.” Dilshad Khan, Manager-Ad Sales, DNA Newspaper, concurred, “I am a fitness freak and I make sure that the hotel I am staying in has a gym, as I wouldn’t want to skip my fitness regime. That apart, I also do a bit of free-hand exercises and yoga.”

Not everyone needs to find fitness in a fad diet or quick exercises, believes Siddharth Kacker, Head-Branding, Electrolux. “Even 10 push-ups in the morning will surely refresh you. But yes, it is very important to keep your diet in control. Low-fat diets are ideal to stay healthy. And working out for 15 minutes on the treadmill every day can work wonders,” he said.

And then there are those who use exercise as a tool to handle business pressure. Daniel Vaz, COO of Batliboi Textile Air Engineering Group, said, “When I go for a run when stressed, it is like a relief valve- it completely de-stresses me. I have gone out for a run with a problem on my mind and in most situations, I have resolved it by the end of the run.” He adds that exercise should be a priority in today’ business world, thanks to lifestyle diseases like hypertension, type II diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, etc- all of which come down to stress, poor eating habits, sleep deficit and lack of exercise.

GYMS AT YOUR ‘HOME AWAY FROM HOME’

If a good fitness club is what business travellers want, hotels are only too pleased to oblige.

Sheraton Hotels now offer a ‘Gym in a Bag’ facility to guests who like to work out in their rooms. Guests are provided with an in-room gym bag consisting of a workout mat, resistance band, a massage stick, etc, and workout videos are available for free. Additionally, all the hotels provide a Fit Meeting program that allows corporate businesses to enhance performance at meetings. This concept includes healthy breaks, techniques to keep the mind and body sharp, and customisable group workout options. The In-Between Meetings Workout helps revive guests with the unique technology of Power Plate, an easy workout that provides travellers with that extra jolt of energy and adrenaline. This uses the principles of Acceleration Training to stimulate the body with waves of energy that activate muscle contractions between 25 and 50 times per second, enhancing overall performance, health and fitness in sweat-free sessions as short as 15-25 minutes.

Soumen Halder, Fitness Expert, The Park Kolkata, said of the facilities in his hotel, “At the gym, guests can do cardio, and work out on the treadmill, cross trainer and bike, while the pool offers relaxation. We also provide a steam and sauna to fatigued guests, and have two innovative, state-of-the-art machines. Kinesis is a resistance exercise with no weights involved, while the Power Plate a vibrator increases blood flow, thus energising a person instantly. We have about fifty to sixty people using our facilities every day. And many of our businessmen clients have introduced their partners to our establishment too.”

“Business travellers these days are keen on relaxation regimes, with guidance from fitness trainers- there is also a lot of demand for customised stretching exercises. Business travellers often alter their work schedules to be able to include a session of personal training into their daily routines, along with yoga sessions,” said Mia Munshi, Spa Manager, ITC Gardenia.

At the Westin Hotels, the health programmes are customised to suit a guest’s requirement. “We have three tailored fitness programmes- Travel Workout, Boot Camp, Core Training and Yoga Sessions- which complement ones schedule, reduce stress and revive the body,” Sanjay Sharma, Complex General Manager, The Westin Gurgaon, said, “Most of our executive guests like to workout with a personal trainer. It’s not about burning calories anymore, it’s about acquiring an optimum level of fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

PK Mohan Kumar, COO, The Gateway Hotels & Resort, reveals that the property takes pride in its yoga programme. “This is probably the first time in the world that a hotel chain is offering in-room yoga. We noticed that yoga was gaining popularity with many of our guests, and sense that yoga as a route to wellness will see a resurgence, especially in India. The guest has the choice of selecting between three regimens (asanas, pranayamas and yoga nidra), with the yoga mat in the room and videos playing 24/7,” he said.

FITNESS THROUGH THE TUMMY:

Exercise is one dimension of fitness- a good diet is just as important too. Vishvapreet Singh Cheema, General Manager, Ista Bangalore said, “Since a majority of our clients are business travellers and corporate clients, who are health conscious, we have a special ‘Light and Healthy’ menu which has a selection of clear soups, egg white omelettes, grilled vegetables and whole wheat breads. We also do a full spread of health foods – sprouts, extra virgin olive oil, assorted fresh vegetables, artichoke hearts, palm hearts, selection of fresh olives, etc from which the guests can choose their favourites.” Martin Wuethrich, General Manager, Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gatewaym added, “At our hotel, we have introduced the signature Color Your Plate initiative that educates guests about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. All menu items feature colorful, key nutrients from fruits and vegetables to ensure all meals represent the perfect dietary balance. The branded menus also follow the Core Performance philosophy by offering well-balanced meals that provide proper fuel for the body. These new menus are available for in-room dining too.”

WANT TO STAY FIT? NO SWEAT!

Here are some simple tips to stay fit while on the road:

  • Check out local parks and trails. Ask hotel staff about safe routes for walking or running. Or else, walk up and down the hotel halls, or climb the stairs.
  • Pack your swimsuit in the event the hotel has a swimming pool.
  • Rejuvenate with a 10-minute yoga workout.
  • Use resistance tubing. These stretchy tubes offer weight-like resistance when you pull on them. You can use resistance tubing in your travel workout to build strength in nearly any muscle group.
  • Stretch with traditional floor exercises.
  • Skip rope. If your room is big enough, skip in it- or else head to the fitness centre, an open space or even the parking area.
  • Do jumping jacks. Try a few sets right in your room.
  • March in place. Pump your arms to increase your calorie-burning power.
  • Try aerobics. Follow an aerobics program on TV or online, or play an exercise video or DVD from home.
  • Try push-ups, abdominal crunches and leg squats.
  • Pack a pair of light dumbbells in your suitcase for a 20-minute upper, mid and lower body workout.

Expert Speak:

Purnesh Shetty, Fitness Trainer, Vishy Fit Gym

While travelling to other cities for work, one can always take 15-20 minutes out every morning and work out. The exercise should include push-ups, sit-ups, side bends, squats and twisting. A healthy diet is just as important as exercise in maintaining fitness, so, start the morning with two glasses of water followed by fruits, coconut water or butter milk. Breakfast should be light and may include fruits and vegetables. For lunch, hit the salad bar. Never skip a meal or sleep immediately after a meal. Avoid processed and canned food.

Althea Shah, Vice President – Gold’s Gym

During summer, avoid workouts in the afternoon, if you like the outdoors. Exercise in the morning or evening, when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors, in the shade or in a pool. The reason being, under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration levels adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long. The result may be a heat-related illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Dr Chetan Tamhankar, Director, Zhi 360 Wellness Centre And Medspa

If you tend to travel a lot, and ignore fitness, you will end up with a bout of tension, depression and obesity. Plan a schedule wherein you can stay fit even while travelling. Even a few minutes of running, walking and yoga can do wonders. Simple exercises such as push-ups and squats do not require any gadget and can be practiced anywhere. Sitting for a long time should be avoided at all costs.

GYM ON THE GO:

Here are some essentials that the business traveller won’t fly without:

A pair of running shoes

Jogging shorts

Cotton socks

Yoga mat

Basic dumbbells

Jumping rope

Swimsuit

Favourite workout music

Workout gloves

Swimsuit

Resistance tubes

FIT AT THE AIRPORT

  • San Francisco Airport Lounge: Head to the new yoga zone, roll out your mat and take a plunge into bliss. An oasis of calm, the 150-square-foot room can be used by all passengers, free of cost.
  • Changi Airport, Singapore: The fitness lounge can be availed of at $7 and workout options include cross trainers, exercise bikes, free weights and cable machines.
  • Fairmont Vancouver Airport: The health club can be yours for just $18 a visit. For this amount, you can use all the workout equipment, saunas, pools and showers. The equipment includes free weights, treadmills, rowing machines and more, and for the water-lovers, the three-lane lap pool features a self-adjusted current.
  • Dubai Airport: The G-Force gym here features ellipticals, ab boards, dumbbells and more. The pool and steam area comes with an extra charge.
  • Zurich Airport: The Airport Fitness & Wellness Club offers an impressive arsenal of gym amenities including a 2,000-square-meter fitness area, group classes, personal trainers, Turkish baths and even a sleeping room with waterbeds.

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