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Mekita Rivas

Stories

You Know You’re a Fit Traveler When…

Can you ask “How much is a day pass for your gym?” in multiple languages?

As someone who loves both travel and working out, maintaining my fitness routine while on the road can be challenging. I want to see the sights, but I also want to sweat it out. Whether it’s spin, yoga, running, weight lifting, or just about everything in between, I make time for exercise on the daily. International travel, however, can complicate this process—I may or may not know how to say, “How much is a day pass for your gym?” in multiple languages. While merging my passions of fitness and travel hasn’t always been easy, it has been quite the learning experience. Here are five traits that set us fit travelers apart from the rest.

A selfie while working out in the hotel gym at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona.
photo by Mekita Rivas

You book accommodations based on fitness amenities.
The ideal scenario is a booking with a gym in the building or on the property—so access to fitness facilities is a top priority when I’m searching for hotels or Airbnbs. But even then, I’m highly critical of the amenities provided. A dinky room loaded with decades-old cardio equipment won’t do. Access to free weights is absolutely crucial. I like cardio just as much as the next gym rat, but lifting is my real stress reliever. Nothing feels quite as good as powering through a set of shoulder presses or dead lifts. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve spent hours scouring websites for photos of a hotel’s “gym” so I know what to expect and can plan accordingly. I once stayed at an Airbnb in London where the hosts had set up a squat rack on the roof. It was a chilly October, but I still layered up and got my rooftop reps in. Without free weights or updated cardio equipment, I’ll likely get my workout in elsewhere, which leads me to . . .

You book accommodations based on proximity to local gyms.
I often fall into a rabbit hole of reading reviews, comparing day-pass fees, and assessing proximity to my temporary home while scoping out nearby gyms. I like to have multiple options: Where can I do some serious lifting? What about a local yoga studio where I can decompress? Are there any trendy boutique studios I should check out? These vary from destination to destination, but popular boutique studios usually specialize in one type of high-intensity workout, like boxing or spin. In New York City, for example, there’s always some hot new fitness locale to try—my recent favorites include S10 in Tribeca and Mile High Run Club, which has one location in NoHo and one in NoMad. S10 offers customizable conditioning classes that make for an incredible full-body workout. And although I don’t consider myself much of a runner, that completely changes at Mile High Run Club. Taking a class there is a jolt of energy that could rival your morning coffee.

Reflecting after a surf lesson, also near Lisbon, Portugal.
photo courtesy of Mekita Rivas

You pack just as many workout clothes as you do regular clothes.
The packing conundrum is this: I want to have enough fresh, clean clothes for my daily workouts, but if I don’t have easy access to laundry facilities, that can mean I’m lugging around ten pairs of leggings and one pair of actual pants. And it’s not just the clothes. It’s also the gear—which, in my case, includes headbands, lifting gloves, lifting belt, a padlock, and a travel-sized foam roller. When it’s all said and done, it’s a miracle I even have room for anything not workout related. Fortunately, I have a few packing secrets. First, rolling is key. I roll everything: jeans, shirts, skirts, sweaters, etc. I put socks into shoes and underwear into purses to free up precious cargo space. I’ve somehow avoided extra luggage fees up to this point, though I have been that person who’s frantically removing items from their suitcase to get under that pesky 50-pound mark.

Your entire travel itinerary revolves around when and where you can get in a workout.
Sure, I want to check out that museum/monument/historic site, but I also want to get my endorphins going! If I don’t work out, I’m guaranteed to be in a crankier, more lethargic mood. So prioritizing and penciling in my workouts is imperative. While I prefer morning workouts, those aren’t always feasible when you’re catching a 6 a.m. flight or battling jet lag. But when skipping a workout isn’t an option, you make the time when you can. During a recent trip to Paris, for instance, I squeezed in a yoga session at my Airbnb in between stops at the Musée du Luxembourg and the Arc de Triomphe. I’m lucky that my fiancé, my primary travel companion, is understanding of my demanding workout schedule. In fact, I can usually coax him into joining me.

After taking a class at Rumble Boxing in New York City.
photo courtesy of Mekita Rivas

You’ve mastered the art of the in-room workout and know how to use pretty much anything to trainanytime, anywhere.
In all my travels, I’ve realized that the key to a successful trip is the ability to be flexible. But as someone with an extremely regimented workout routine, maintaining that flexibility is easier said than done. Despite my proactive measures of ensuring that I have access to sufficient fitness amenities, sometimes working out means employing a little creativity. And you’d be surprised at how much of a sweat you can work up with very little. I’ve exercised in spaces that are basically glorified closets using chairs for tricep dips, walls for wall sits, and water bottles in place of dumbbells. Is it glamorous? Hardly. But when you’re equally passionate about fitness and travel, it’s all about compromise. Of course, there is no better way to explore a new city than on foot. Traveling provides the perfect opportunity to get in some quality cardio, usually against some stunning backdrops. On a recent glamping adventure, I did an outdoor conditioning workout on an elevated wooden platform that overlooked the San Jacinto Mountains in California. In between burpee sets, I couldn’t help but think, “What a view.”

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