PUMPING IRONY: Vacation Enervation

Should I keep up with my exercise regimen while I’m here in London on vacation? Nah.

LONDON

There’s a certain brutality involved in international travel that demands a fair amount of physical endurance. Sitting upright for about nine hours in a seat on an airliner, for instance, calls on some basic lower back and core strength, not to mention an ability to ignore the fact that you’re sitting upright for about nine hours in a seat on an airliner. This is the price one pays for the opportunity to expand one’s cultural horizons, and having paid that price yesterday, My Lovely Wife and I now find ourselves happily ensconced in a quirky flat on Swinton Street in the British capital for the next 10 days.

Much has been written about maintaining your exercise regimen while traveling (Here’s a recent piece from EL you can read if you’ve already lost interest in my vacation), but in my own experience I’ve found such aspirations to be mostly illusory. A kitchen chair, for instance, is a poor substitute for a kettlebell in most cases, and the way I look at things a vacation is designed to force you out of your routine, not keep you in it.

Still, I’ve found that there are some fitness opportunities available here in London. Just yesterday, for instance, I walked/ran a mile or so following MLW to the People’s Supermarket, a ragtag food co-op a bit south of here on a street called Lamb’s Conduit (the London street grid is like a really good British mystery). She was riding a bicycle and I was on foot, because she got the last bike from the Barklay’s Cycle rental station down the street from our flat. We went off in search of another rental station, but got lost amid the Byzantine streets, and I wound up simply hoofing it all the way to the co-op (which, of course, had a cycle hire station around the corner). And that was fine: MLW enjoyed a nice bike ride and I got in a little exercise.

This morning, we both hiked about a mile to the Islington Farmers’ Market to pick up some food, and we managed to score a couple of bikes from the station there to pedal home. But that was the extent of our bicycling fortunes for the day. Later that afternoon, we set out for Bloomsbury, a couple of miles to the south and west, and discovered all the bikes gone from every rental station we passed. Thus, we were forced to wander aimlessly on foot from pub to bookstore to pub. I don’t know how many miles we wound up trekking, but it was more than enough for MLW’s bum right knee, which protested all the way back to the flat.

Now, that didn’t amount to a lot of cardio, but it did illustrate part of the problem with exercising too diligently while on vacation. At home, it’s easy to allow your body to heal from an overly ambitious workout (believe me, I know about this). You’ve got your workout routine and you’ve got your recovery routine. On the road, however, you’re out of your comfort zone (literally). You can’t go for a leisurely bike ride when your knee is aching or lean on your yoga teacher for some specific recovery poses. You’re on your own out here; your options are limited.

That doesn’t mean I can’t get up tomorrow morning and crank out 100 pushups before breakfast or grab a kitchen chair in each hand and do 50 Bulgarian split squats. It just means I probably won’t. I’m on vacation. OK?

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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