Finding Fitness During Summer Vacation

Happy Summer Everyone!  Could you just feel the collective mood lift this summer solstice, which in our town, spontaneously coincided with the last day of school? Now here we are at one of my favorite moments of the year, with the entire summer stretching ahead of us with the promise of long days, visits to the beach, time with family and friends and a vacation week (maybe more!)

James and Caroline biking Kiawah Island, SC

James and Caroline biking Kiawah Island, SC

James on top of Mt. Megunticook, Camden, ME

James on top of Mt. Megunticook, Camden, ME

Merriam-Webster defines vacation as “a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended.”  Note that this definition does not say “all activity.”  I point this out because for many Americans, vacation means the All You Can Eat/Drink Buffet on the cruise ship.  And even the most well-intentioned among us can easily fall victim to the well-meaning relative who chastises us for squeezing in a walk/run/yoga class during vacation with, “What do you mean you are going to work out?  You are on vacation!”

For me, there needs to be some kind of exercise or physical activity each day on vacation.  Otherwise, I feel like mush.  When on vacation, I don’t try to keep up the same routine that I have at home.  Instead, I like to do some kind of activity where I learn something new, explore my new surroundings, or spend time with my husband or family in an active way.  Because I know that this is how I like to vacation, it’s something I keep in mind when I choose a hotel or rental.  Are there running trails, bike paths, tennis courts?  I once chose a beach house in Chatham because it was adjacent to the town’s athletic complex with basketball courts for our son and tennis courts for my husband and me.  This year in Miramar Beach, FL, we chose a tennis resort so we could play every morning.  

Andy & Melissa on clay courts, Miramar Beach, FL

Andy & Melissa on clay courts, Miramar Beach, FL

I wanted to know how others fit fitness in while vacationing so I asked  Jen Markowski and Keegan Garnsey to weigh in on this topic.  Jen and her family love traveling to new cities for destination races.  “Running in a new city is always a great way to check out the area.”

Keegan told me, “While on vacation (especially somewhere warm!), I have no problem finding time for the sometimes much needed R&R.  But anyone who has traveled with me before (my husband especially) will attest to the fact that sitting still (some call it relaxing) for long periods of time does not come easy to someone that is constantly busy.  Our compromise usually consists of a few hours of lounging, followed by some sort of fun activity.  Whether it's finding a local hiking trail (stumbling across gorgeous waterfalls in the Waimea Canyon in Kauai), zip lining down the mountains in Colorado, or paddle boarding in the gorgeous waters of Grand Cayman, I always make sure to find an activity that also serves as a way to "explore" the local area.

Keegan paddleboarding in Grand Cayman

Keegan paddleboarding in Grand Cayman

Keegan rope climbing in Colorado

Keegan rope climbing in Colorado

The idea of a family activity on vacation is something that I have been trying to work into our plans over the years with mixed success.  We’ve tried paddleboarding a few times, surfing lessons, golf lessons, bike-riding in several locales, and hiking small mountains.  I find that with everything we try I need to be prepared for a range of emotions and reactions, including frustration, glee, elation, and of course, the big one – whining.  Lots and lots of whining.  Especially when climbing up the mountain.  But we just keep telling them, “it is SO worth it – wait until we get to the top.”  And then they are thrilled that they did it.

From this standpoint, as we view summer from its early days, while our lawn are still green and we have yet to see a native garden tomato, it seems like we have all the time in the world to fit in every day trip and activity.  I used to keep a mental list of things I wanted to do as a family and then I would feel defeated when it was suddenly Labor Day and we hadn’t done all 50 of them.  So, a couple of years ago, I changed my approach.  I start each summer with a plain poster board that I hang in our kitchen, simply labeled, “Summer 2017” and everyone writes a favorite moment, event, or thing that we did.  By the end of the Summer, it is full.  And you realize that if you had done all 50 things, you would have spent every free moment in the car, in traffic – which sounds a little bit like winter school & work life – and not like vacation at all.  

I would love to hear your stories about how you fit in fitness on vacation.  Please add your comments!

How do you fit in fitness on vacation?