“When clients go on vacation, do you send them with ‘homework’ so they can maintain their diet and fitness program?”

By IDEA Authors
May 6, 2016

I always do what is best for my clients. As a result, the majority of the time I do not send them on vacation with exercise homework. The only time I do this is when it is truly what’s best for the client and if the client wants it. If I do develop a plan for vacation, under no circumstances do I call it “homework,” as people exercise more when it doesn’t feel like an obligation.

For clients who want to maintain some form of exercise program while on vacation, I map out a plan to remove the guesswork and provide a good feeling from the consistency. For other clients, we discuss options for them to get out in life and use the fitness they have built in their workouts. I encourage them to go into nature and do stuff. This allows them the flexibility to focus on activities where they can be physical but still be with their traveling companions.

Often, the type of vacation determines the nature of a vacation fitness plan. For example, when a client is simply visiting with family, a plan for staying consistent with his usual fitness routine becomes more relevant. By contrast, if a client is planning an active vacation involving hiking, water activities, etc., I don’t worry much about making sure she does workouts.

The duration also makes a difference. For clients who are taking a monthlong vacation, doing something related to the main workout while away becomes far more critical than it is for clients who are getting away for just a week.

Jonathan Ross
2010 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year
2006 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year
Annapolis, Maryland

I am a health fitness specialist at a corporate fitness center, where many of our clients are frequent fliers for business. We run health and fitness incentive programs throughout the year and, whether clients are on a business trip or a vacation, they are held accountable to complete the required amount of exercise or health challenges to win prizes and achieve their goals.

The main concerns of our corporate clients are long plane flights and lack of equipment at hotel gyms. I’ll give clients a resistance tube or band to pack in their carry-on for performing seated stretches on the plane. I also advise them to stand and stretch often on the flight. In the hotel room, both tubing and band can be used for stretching and strengthening exercises.

Debbie Russell
Personal Trainer, Premise Health Onsite Health Programs
Shelton, Connecticut

I use clients’ vacation days as a time to mix up their workouts. I give them a short HIIT program so they still have lots of time to enjoy vacation. Usually diets are a little off while traveling, and clients like to know they won’t blow both their diet and their workout.

Jennifer LeBlanc
Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation
Zionsville, Indiana

I give my clients homework when they go on vacation and when I go on vacation as well. If they are the ones leaving, I find out about their access to fitness facilities or jogging trails. I use various programs to create a plan for them, including the IDEA Workout Builder program, complete with images. I check out local restaurants and grocery stores to see how clients can maintain healthy food choices.

In addition I remain accessible so that if a question arises, clients can get an answer quickly. Clients’ health and fitness shouldn’t stop when they go on a break. Lifestyle choices are constant, and I try to teach consistency and movement.

Nancy Matican Bock
Owner, L.A.S.T. (Lifestyle and Sports Training)
Melbourne Beach, Florida

Several of my clients conduct travel for business and find themselves in hotels with either no fitness centers or extremely limited equipment. During our face-to-face training sessions, I spend time teaching simple exercise concepts that can easily be converted to exercise knowledge. This knowledge lends itself to my giving business trip or vacation homework. For example, rather than offering a list of exercises, I use my earlier teachings, such as “back muscles pull and chest muscles push,” to indicate fitness homework. I might say, “Perform three back exercises and two chest exercises, along with a hamstring and quad exercise three times during your business trip.” This way, clients are not wedded to any piece of equipment but can use their knowledge of physiology and create their own exercises using whatever is available to them.

Later, I ask them to show me a list of the exercises they performed while away. This is a great way to truly engage clients in their exercise program and encourage them to think actively of creative ways to exercise when they’re away from a traditional gym.

LaRue Cook, CSCS
LEC Fitness LLC
Alexandria, Virginia, and Vero Beach, Florida

Yes, I do give clients homework to do while they’re on vacation. I give them a general workout that depends on their access to a gym, equipment, open roads, etc. Plus, I ask them to keep a daily food journal.

Bec Salmonson Fridley, Minnesota

Clients struggle with many different things: making good food choices, exercising enough or at a high enough intensity, keeping mindful of their goal and staying motivated and on track.

In any task, the keys to success are consistent effort, determination and mindset. As the cliché says, “Practice makes perfect.” In perfect practice, we become more resistant to temptations and we [train] our body, mind and soul not to stop, no matter how many times we fail, fall or fear. All those “Fs” yield to feats!

Therefore, it is important to give clients the tools to maintain their fitness during travel. I do these things:

  • I ask where clients are going and where they’ll be staying. I find out if there is a fitness center at their location.
  • I use Google Maps to look for surrounding fitness centers, gyms and parks.
  • I find out if there are grocery stores nearby. I compile a food list and instruct clients to purchase healthy snacks to curb appetite and increase energy and mood.
  • I give clients a list of foods categorized as green (Yes!), yellow (Think about it!) and red (No!) and ask them to save it on their mobile phone as a quick go-to reference.
  • I make sure clients have a fitspiration quote or a picture of their fitness goal as their mobile phone’s wallpaper, so they have a constant reminder of their reachable quest.

Some clients do not care about homework while on vacation. I ask those clients to use a fitness wearable or a mobile phone that will alert them regarding steps taken toward their goal. I also use a fitness program that allows me to see their activity levels so I can message them if needed. When a client needs or wants motivation in the form of a personal trainer, I suggest Fitspot—a fitness app that finds customized, affordable and convenient personal training at or near their destination.

Jeffrey Kazmucha, MS
Personal Trainer,
Phytly Master-Level Personal Trainer, Axis Performance Center
Menlo Park, California

All clients are different, so I take into consideration clients’ goals and training habits as well as where the clients are on their health/fitness “journeys.” Before people leave on vacation, I talk to them about where they are going, how active they will be, what kind of vacation they are hoping for, etc. I talk to them about making good nutrition choices, and I send them workouts they can do while they are away. The workouts consist of simple movements they have already done that need little to no equipment.

I let clients know that missing one or more workouts during vacation is not a big deal. I want people to keep up their momentum but not beat themselves up or feel guilty. I let them know that I am there if they need me for support but the most important thing is to enjoy themselves on vacation!

Donna Meeker Orourke
Personal Trainer, DMO Fitness
Clifton, New Jersey

As I do with all of my programming, I tailor vacation training suggestions to each client’s goals, desires and mindset. Some clients want a short, low-equipment or no-equipment workout. Some plan on doing their usual workout, perhaps less frequently. Some need a complete break from exercise, and we plan a reduced-program instead. I like to remind clients that it’s what they do the other 51 weeks of the year that really matters—not what happens on a week’s vacation.

Tamara Grand
Owner, Fitknitchick
Port Moody, British Columbia

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