Ever find yourself stuck or unable to train because you have to be overseas? Whether it’s for work or a vacation, there’s no doubt that being away from the gym can sometimes cause you to lose momentum and take you further from your fitness goals. However, it doesn’t always have to be that way.
35-year-old Patrick Oliver, who works as a DJ, performs in different cities all around the world but has never let this derail his martial arts training at Evolve MMA.
“Training and traveling are two things that don’t always work well together,” shares Patrick. “You’re working hard and have a weekly rhythm at the gym, and are on an upward trajectory in regard to both your technique and physical fitness – but then you head off on a trip, or multiple trips, and that rhythm is broken.”
While it can be disheartening to find that your techniques are rusty and your cardio has dropped after traveling, Patrick believes that there are ways around this. After all, he has been able to juggle traveling and training at Evolve MMA (Far East Square) for the past four years.
Whenever he’s overseas, Patrick keeps himself active by seeking out and training in gyms near where he’s staying. “Even if you can’t find a martial arts gym, you can still preserve your fitness by working out at a more traditional gym facility or do an outdoor non-gym workout,” he advises. “As coach Eddie once told me, ‘do something, at least do something.’”
“While traveling, I’ve trained both Muay Thai and BJJ in Shanghai, Bali, Thailand, Jakarta, Miami, Abu Dhabi and Germany,” says Patrick. “Although these gyms may not have world champion instructors like at Evolve, you can still get a decent workout. You’ll also get to train under a different curriculum of your chosen art, which offers an interesting opportunity to experience something new, so take advantage.”
Of course, training overseas requires some research and planning. According to Patrick, your experience can be smoother and less stressful when you communicate with your prospective gym, plan your local transportation and pack your gear intelligently. “This is especially important if you have limited time in an unfamiliar town or city,” he shares.
“It’s not always convenient to bring your entire gym bag full of gear; you don’t want to make your luggage more troublesome than it already is, so bring only the essentials, unless you’re planning to do a lot of training during your trip,” advises Patrick. “Don’t forget to bring a sealable travel laundry bag to put all your post-workout gym clothes in.”
It might be disappointing to discover that there are no martial arts gyms in the area; however, Patrick never lets this get in the way of his fitness. “Go with the flow and use this situation as an opportunity to expand your training horizons,” says Patrick. “Remember, any training is better than no training. This could open the door to trying a new workout and using muscle groups that you don’t usually stress.”
With that said, what can you do if you end up at a place that doesn’t have any gyms? “In this situation, we can do the next best thing: bodyweight exercises,” reveals Patrick. “You can do bodyweight exercises anywhere and anytime. You just need the willpower to do them without a coach pushing you.”
“A basic 20-minute session of squats, pushups, and burpees is better than nothing, and each rep you perform will contribute to your improved – or at least maintained – fitness,” he adds. “Finally, make sure you pack your running shoes and get out and pound some pavement. You can run almost anywhere, and it’s a great way to explore wherever you’re staying. It costs nothing, and most importantly, is critical for maintaining cardio and endurance. Swimming is also a good training option that offers similar benefits.”
Despite the planning, there might be times when training simply isn’t possible. “There may be no gym, bad weather, or a travel schedule that has you on a plane halfway around the world and back with three stops in between,” Patrick shares. “Sadly, we are not allowed to do sprints up and down the aisle of the plane or hip escapes back and forth through the galley.”
When this happens to Patrick, he chooses to make the most of his time by exercising his mind instead. Before those trips that don’t allow physical training, he will prepare articles to read and podcasts to listen to. “I can’t think of a better way to pass the time on what might be an otherwise boring journey,” he admits. “You can also go old-school and just grab a book.”
“I personally like to brush up on the all-important topic of diet,” he says. “The science of eating, especially in relation to general health and the athletic lifestyle, is vast. It’s more informative and scientifically accurate than it’s ever been. It’s an endless journey to discover the best way to eat to support your training.”
Patrick believes that downtime is also a great opportunity for strategizing, making plans and setting goals. “After deciding to try out for the Evolve competition team, I set goals that ensured I was as well-prepared as possible for the tryout fight,” he reveals. “The upcoming bout kept me motivated and enforced discipline in my training. That focus on the specific desire of winning to make the team helped me cut through procrastination and reach a level of fitness not usually achievable through my regular training routine.”
Are you now inspired to work out when you travel? Through Patrick, we can see that traveling doesn’t have to be a hindrance and take you further away from your martial arts goals. In fact, here’s what he has to say: “Traveling doesn’t have to derail your training. It can add a lot to your routine by opening you up to new workout opportunities and experiences.”