March 16, 2009

"Rest" Stops

No, we didn't stop and exercise here.
I think it's actually a hotel or something.

So when we’re on a road trip, exercise gets tricky. No familiar gyms or running routes—plus, I can never figure out why sitting on my ass all day watching stuff out the window makes me so tired and unmotivated. (The Lobster does most of the driving, so I can’t even claim it’s the driving that makes me weary).

Nonetheless, I get extra cranky if I don’t find a way do something. So I have to at least try...

Exercise usually comes in the form of:

1. Hiking if trails are available. This is my favorite. Hooray for pretty trails!

2. Visits to local gyms. (Bonus for campers: nicer showers than you find at campgrounds!)

3. Running outside (but not on pavement; due to crappy knees. So dirt paths or sandy beaches must be located.)

4. Wandering the aisles of unfamiliar grocery stores in search of suddenly scarce items (what, no natural peanut butter, just Jiff and Skippy??!!)

5. Walking around malls and parking lots (it takes a LOT of laps to get in a few miles.)

6. Trying to avoid tripping over the cat (great for balance!)

One of her favorite spots--right in front of the bathroom.

and finally,

7. Rest stop calisthenics.

The new wrinkle for this trip? Since we bought a few toys to try to do more “functional fitness,” we’ve been doing a bit more of the last one, rest stop calisthenics. Just five or ten minutes here and there; not a complete workout, but enough activity to get the blood pumping and cross a few exercises off our list.

Some observations:

1. There is no reason that exercising at rest stops should feel weird. It’s HEALTHY. But no one else seems to do it.

2. You can somewhat reduce the Dork Factor if you bring along a few items of “equipment.” Note: everyone else may still think you’re a dork, but internally, you feel more “official.” We’ve got stretchy bands and a jump rope and a kettlebell. Why does this reduce subjective dorkitude? No idea, but it does! I used to just do push-ups and jumping jacks and would feel awfully self-conscious.

3. Having someone else to exercise with also makes you feel less like a weirdo.

4. A pair of gardening gloves comes in handy for push-ups or burpees in parking lots.

5. I’ve apparently been mispronouncing “calisthenics” my entire life! Spell-check informs me there’s no “t” in front of “ics.” I always thought it was cal-i-sthen-Tics, not cal-i-sthen-Nics. I find this news quite disturbing.

6. I totally suck at jumping rope. Little kids jump rope all the time, how hard could it be? But dang, I’m totally lame at it and it’s frustrating!

One, two, three..

Oh crap, not again!

(Alert readers may notice I jump rope so badly I can make an entire lakes flee in disgust.)

Does anyone else feel silly exercising out of context? Have any tips for exercising while traveling?


  1. Ha, looks like you guys are making good progress!!

    I must confess I DO NOT exercise while traveling, apart from the occasional yawn and reach from the 12+ hours of sleep each night. Ahh...

    Do love the rest stop tips though! :)

  2. Once before I was in shape I took a road trip to Destin, Florida - 17 hours of hell. I stepped onto the beach thinking I looked good but the pictures told a different story. Can you say reality check?

    I can't wait for this summer's trips to Atlantic City. I've finally stopped embarrassing my bathing suit.

  3. The lake disappearing was a really cool trick.

    Last trip, I brought my stretchy bands. They were excited by the idea of the outing, but in fact never left the suitcase. Still, they've never been anywhere before, so I suppose it's a step in the right direction.

  4. I totally should incorporate exercising at rest stops. We drive form Colorado to Kentucky every other year, and we usually drive straight through. Rest-stop sessions sound good! Thanks.Vee at

  5. In the summer i walk on sunday because my gym isn't open so a lot of times I will jumprope prior to walking to warm up, one day I was jumping rope in the driveway and the paper girl came up to drop the paper and I was pretty embarassed. Usually people are sleeping at that hour. Woops!

  6. I may make BK do some of that stuff with me on our next road trip (to Michigan over Christmas).

    Hopefully by then he'll get over his public embarassment at being seen with me doing things like that.

  7. Wow - you made a lake disappear! That's so cool!

    Great tips, and I'm glad to hear you are wearing gardening gloves when you do your push-ups in parking lots. That will definitely decrease the weirdness factor - especially if they are a nice bright color!! People will be so taken with the gloves that they won't even notice what you're doing! Really! :)

  8. I have done yoga stretches in hotel rooms, but that's about it. I tend to get lazy (lazier??) when travel. I tell myself it's a vacation from everything.

  9. Awesome tips! I was simply stretching at a rest stop once and felt like people were giving me the stink eye. Dudes, I was cooped up in a car for hours - why is it odd to want to stretch? Oh well.

    I carry on with running while on vacation or while evacuating when hurricanes threaten (we live in New Orleans). I love how portable it is.

    When driving far, we look up playgrounds to stop at for the kiddies (and the cat). There are lots of ways for adults to exercise at a playground too.

  10. I'm right with you on the jumping rope. The boxing class I was going to involved jumping rope, and I was so bad at it that I wasn't getting any benefit from it, so I resorted to "faking it", doing the motions without the rope. Muuuuch easier.


    The Tornado now wants a cat (and a jumprope).

  12. Well of course the lake disappeared! Jumping rope is pretty thirsty work!

  13. I say exercise in the parking lot in front of those poor truckers. They need the motivation the most! I just worry they might leer at you like you were a couple of lot lizards on speed.

    You brought your cat with you on vay-cay? I'm getting an RV now. Done.

  14. Gardening gloves! Now there's a revelation. I'm always trying to figure out a way to do downward facing dog post-run in parking lots. A pair is going in my backseat next to the rest of my mess.

  15. The lake trick is awesome!

    I like to run when I travel, except that I always get lost which kinda worries the programmer. I've stretched at rest stops, but I usually try to duck behind a tree so no one gets a full on butt view, LOL.

  16. We usually go camping and hiking for holidays, so we don't do too much on the way to where we're going, but do a lot while there.
    I confess a lot of holidays involve eating badly and not exercising enough...

    Having a pair of running shoes and the iPod in the car is enough for me to go out for a short run if I need to...I never thought of tossing in a skip rope. Oddly enough I can jump rope no problem - considering my total lack of coordination it always surprises me :)

  17. No tips for exercise while traveling, but one for reducing the tiredness that is often associated with travel: ear plugs.

    Believe it or not, the road noise from long distance travel (or the noise of airplane travel, for that matter) tends to make you feel tired at the end of the day. It is amazing how constant noise wears a person down, and we don't tend to realize it until we wear earplugs or spend time in a less noisy environment.

    I hope you are enjoying your trip!

  18. I guess my big exercise tip would be to squeeze your butt cheeks so they don't get numb from sitting. Throw some punches at each other while driving.

    I feel goofy exercising out of context though if you consider how long you spend staring at others (not that long, usually a moment or two), what they do at rest stops or anywhere for that matter, that's about how long they're looking at you while you're looking dorkish with a kettlebell.

    Cat is adorable!

  19. I'm all about teh incidental exercise, onlookers be darned! I love rest stops. I always make all my kids get out and run around with me too. Added bonus: if you do anything with kids, even if it's wildly dorky like pushups on the picnic table, people just think you're a good parent! Hahahah - fooled them!!

  20. Amen to that, Charlotte! :-)

    I do pretty well once I arrive, but we never do driving-days-at-a-time road trips anymore. Walking, playing with kids, swimming when there's a pool, and DVDs as my backup.

    Wonder if someone's made up an airport layover fitness routine? Off to Google....

  21. Let 'em stare, I say. They're only staring because they haven't seen anything else but cars move for so many hours. They're probably thinking they wish they could do it, too, but they can't quite shake off the travel blahs. You're a little diversion that's keeping them awake & making them safer on the road.
    In the airport? How about walking briskly through those endless corridors, then occasionally saying, "Oh, no!" & sprinting off to a reasonably remote gate?

  22. Ooooo! I never considered:

    "A pair of gardening gloves comes in handy for push-ups or burpees in parking lots."

    Given the fact I'm known for doing pushups ANYWHERE if it's pushup time, this is a great tip indeed.

  23. I walk. I feel that you can always walk :) or use your own weight for training.......push ups, crunches, squats ;) NOT a jump roper here ;)!!

  24. I always plan ahad for travel. I bring exercsie bands, running shoes/clothes, check to see if there is a workout center where I am staying, bring some food that I know I may not find while traveling like my protein powder & certain bars that may not be found everywhere. I usually jog/walk, use an exercsie room or use the exercise bands, try to keep as active as possible when "sight seeing" and just plain watch what I am doing without being a total health crazed not while on vacation.

    I am not sure if I care what others think when I am exercising out of context. If I exercise, I can enjoy more!

  25. Great post. I totally agree just b/c you are on vacation your workouts don't have to be. I love the hotel gyms. My mom and I are going to Italy in the fall, and I am nervous b/c the European hotels don't have gyms. I will have to take some of your suggestions. Thanks

  26. Love the tips! I will be sure to take a skipping rope on the next road trip. Yes, I usually feel like a looney excercising or stretching at rest stops, but I never get how other people can sit in a car or bus on loooong trips and not want to bounce around the minute the vehicle stops!

  27. "There is no reason that exercising at rest stops should feel weird. It’s HEALTHY. But no one else seems to do it." I don't get that. Why is it so taboo? NO ONE ever does it. You're my hero. Love the jumping pictures!

    I like to exercise in unusual places. Partly because I get strange looks. I always use the excuse that I'm a health writer so I'm conducting some experiment or another. (the phrase "I'm a writer, so..." seems to explain everything to most people. After all, everyone knows that writers are kinda crazy! In a good way ;)).

  28. I think I like the idea of doing some exercise on rest stops. It would probably really help me. I tend to like to do a little walking around anyway, just to keep my legs from getting too stiff, but it wouldn't hurt to throw in some pushups or other exercise. I definitely am too lazy on vacation.

  29. Nice picture, you three are looking great and i think you doing well...

    nice post, thanks!


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