Travel Fitness

I’m Travelling and Don’t Want to Lose Progress! [Podcast Episode #039]

Are you leaving on vacation? Or maybe it's a trip for work? Are you worried that you're about to lose all the fitness progress you've worked so hard to achieve?

If you're like most people you know how much work it takes to see real fitness progress. And you also know how quickly those results seem to disappear if you take your foot off the gas for even a split second.

Well, I've got some great news for you: Just being away from the gym for a week or two does not mean you have to lose any ground at all. In fact, it's likely much easier to maintain your progress than you think. Here's how...

Episode Resources:

I'm Traveling And Don't Want To Lose Progress! [Full Text]

Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work Podcast. I'm really excited to have you here. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier, happier life. I bring together some of the top experts from around the world, in all things related to health and fitness, to answer your questions.

Today, as always, I have a really great question. This one in particular is talking about exercise, and it's just in time for the summer. Let's listen to what Phil had to say.

Phil writes in and she asks, "This summer has me a bit worried. Right now I'm in a really good gym routine, but I know that I'm going to be traveling a lot over the next few months. I don't want to lose what I've worked so hard for. What sort of exercise routine do you recommend for" ... She puts in quotes, "Maintenance" when getting to the gym is not likely going to happen?"

This is a really interesting question for me to receive because I actually got my start in providing fitness services online because of this exact question. I used to train clients face to face, and a lot of my clients in Ontario in Canada have cottages. That's pretty typical.

People in Ontario will have a cottage and quite often go spend large chunks of the summer season at their cottage. I had these clients that would bust their butt all year long to get in really great shape. Then when it came time for cottage season, their gym routines would really fall off track. They'd come back in September, and it's pretty disheartening that in 2 months so much progress could be lost.

That really motivated me to try and connect with clients online in all different types of ways. Instead of me talking about online fitness or ways that you can work out at home, I brought in a really great guest today from the UK. His name's Daniel Bartlett, and he runs a company called The Body Project. They really specialize in just being able to stay fit, move your body without needing a gym membership, without needing lots of equipment.

Specifically today we're going to talk about what type of equipment should you invest in if you're going to be traveling, what are some travel friendly pieces of equipment, or working out at home. I know you're going to love this. We're going to talk about the 3 exercises that Daniel recommends that everyone needs to be doing, again, if you're going to be staying in shape outside of the gym. Let's dive right into it. I'd like to introduce you to Daniel Bartlett.

Meet Daniel Bartlett

Hey, Daniel. Thanks so much for joining us on the show today.

Daniel: Hello, Dave.

Dave: Now I know that you're a longtime fitness pro, real expert in all kinds of different areas of fitness particularly in training and training without equipment. Maybe you could start off by just telling the viewers, who's Daniel Bartlett, and what do you do?

Daniel: I'm the founder of a company called Body Project. I've been a personal trainer for over 15 years. Before that, I was actually a boxer. I guess that our key area of interest is in people exercising from home. People who don't have access to gyms who want to do it the right way. If I was to really sum up my chief area of interest, because you said I was an expert in lots of areas and I'd probably have to disagree with that, it would be exercising from home with your body weight or with very small amounts of equipment.

Dave: Cool. I've been really excited to actually chat with you because, I don't know if you know this, but I got my start in online fitness pursuits by doing at home workouts. Since then, I've branched off and do mostly different things. It was neat when I started looking at The Body Project I thought, "This takes me back to my roots." It's very exciting.

Daniel: That's great. That's great to hear.

Dave: Now we have a question today from Phil; just kind of recap she basically says she's been in a great gym routine ... You probably get this all the time with the corporate clients you work with or individuals you work with ... She says, "I'm about to start traveling this summer," and she's afraid that everything is going to fall apart. When you read that from her, is that something that you see a lot in your clients?

Daniel: Yeah. I think that a lot of people find that with gyms, it's great when they're fixed in one place, right? If you have a job and the gym is down the road or it's down the road from your house, that's wonderful. One of the big problems that I see a lot is that once that is disrupted, whether it's by a holiday or it's traveling for work, when people don't have something to fall back on, everything falls apart.

I think that that's one of my issues with gyms is the ... Gyms are great by the way, but you have to have some way of continuing when life gets disrupted and your logistics aren't quite as straightforward. I hear that being said quite a lot, yeah.

Dave: Yeah, I totally agree. One thing that I thought about is quite often I'll talk to clients who are very dedicated to a certain class at their gym. They never miss that class no matter what. I often will ask them, what happens if the schedule changes or your schedule changes and all the sudden your go-to class is gone, then what?

Daniel: Absolutely. I think that the other point there is ... One of the things that we try and stay away from with plateaus, is people doing the same thing again and again and again. We don't want it to be so random, that they're just doing a scatagon approach. There's lots of different things, but certainly if you're always doing the same class, and you're just doing that class, potentially you'll hit that dreaded plateau.

Switching Things Up

There has to be a point where you move on a little bit as well. I think that ... Unless everybody in the class is doing exactly the same, has the same progress pathway as you, it's unlikely it's still going to necessarily suit you 6 months down the line. Do you understand what I'm saying there as well?

Dave: A hundred percent actually. I have a follow up question for you, just a little anecdote from my own training. I had a client recently who, when I presented her program to her, she saw that it was 4 weeks of the exact same programming for 4 consecutive weeks.

Her response was "I'm doing the same thing over again?" Her mentality was that it should be changing every single time. Can you comment on that for the listeners or the viewers? What is the proper approach? How long should you do a workout? When should you change it up?

Daniel: That's a good question, and unfortunately there's not an absolute answer for it. I think if you look at 2 ends of the spectrum you get the people who want to do the same thing again and again and again because they're comfortable with it. At the very end of the other end of the spectrum, you have the people who want to have something different every single day.

Almost like a circus act of different things to do. The answer is somewhere in the middle. Once something stops pushing you out of your comfort zone, once something stops ... It's just taking you a little outside of that bubble where you feel in control, then is probably the time that it needs to snack up a little bit.

Growth and progress always happen outside of your comfort zone.

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If you do it too early, you risk going to something that could push you too far. If you do it too late, you get into that comfort bubble, and nothing actually changes. That's going to be different for everybody. Some people will need to be in a very similar zone for even months. Other people find that the way that their muscles work, their heart and lungs, they adapt very quickly. Therefore, they can move on at a more rapid pace.

Dave: Something I like that you said there ... First of all, I like that you said it is individualized because there is no program that works for every single person. That's just ridiculous to say that everyone should do the same thing.

The other thing I like that you said was that you don't want to move on too quickly. I can just relate from my own training. If I started a new program every single week, I would never get comfortable doing those exercises or that volume, that repetition. It is important, what you're saying, to do some repetition of a program.

Daniel: Absolutely. I think that, like anything, on the pathway of change you're going to find that in the first time you do the workout, you're learning about it. You're not necessarily getting the moves 100 percent correct.

You're having to stop and think. Then you're going to find as you move through that the next few times you do it, you feel more comfortable with it. I think that if we look at that as we move through doing the same workout, there gets a point when you're really in that zone, and you're loving it. You know what's coming next. You understand how your body responds to it, how you can push it.

Then as we said before, we finally get to the point where you're no longer actually that pushed by it. I like what you said there, Dave. It's absolutely right. There needs to be a bit of time that you spend on any workout before you move on from it.

Dave: Perfect. I think that's really important to clarify that before we dive in. To Phil's question then, we're talking about people who like their gym routine but know it's going to be disrupted ... You made a great point. Once that disruption happens, getting back in the routine can be really tough. What would your first piece of advice for someone like Phil be?

Exercising Outside The Gym

Daniel: I think that the biggest mistake I see from people who exercise outside of the gym is that they don't take on board the importance of resistance training, or they don't know how to engage in resistance training away from the gym. Exercising from home is great. It can be, in some cases, a little bit too cardio heavy.

Now maybe Phil likes the gym because he likes weights. Maybe he likes to go on the machines. I don't know anything about Phil's program, but what I do know is that we need to have, whether we're at the gym or whether we're at home, we have to have a rounded program.

It's possible to replicate what's happening in the gym in your house, in your hotel room, outside in the park. It's key that we build in there some resistance, we build in there some cardio, we build in stretching, we build in core work. That's the same wherever we are. The good news is there's no reason you can't replicate the results, or at the very least maintain the results you're getting in the gym, when you're working out from home.

Dave: Okay.

Daniel: One, sorry Dave. One quick caveat. Obviously if you are a strong man, trainer, or a body builder, that's going to be slightly different. I probably don't want to or need to get into that.

Dave: No, agreed. Actually just to note, Phil is actually female. I know you would never think it from the name Phil.

Daniel: Oh sorry!

Dave: No, it's okay.

Daniel: Sorry, Phil.

Dave: Phil, if you're listening, I never clarified that. My fault.

Daniel: I think you might have. In England, we have the name Phillipa which it might be short for Phillipa, I'm not sure, but in England, Phil is normally a male name.

Dave: Yeah. It's all good. Most of the listeners, to be honest, of the Make Your Body Work Podcast are female. The chance of us talking about someone who's looking to put on huge amounts of muscle is pretty low.

A question though while you're speaking there is: I've had a number of guests recently on the podcast, females, who have really emphasized the importance of women lifting weights and doing resistance training. You're saying you don't necessarily need those weights. Can you replicate effective resistance training without having the weights?

Replicating Resistance Training

Daniel: You can replicate effective resistance training as long as you have some type of equipment or access to something. When we think about needing to work the back, for instance, it's actually quite difficult to work the back with absolutely no equipment whatsoever.

I find that if people just use their body weight and don't have something that they can pull on, don't have dumbbells, don't have a TRX, or some resistance bands, it can be quite difficult. It can be quite a challenge to actually hit the back muscles. The danger that we see there is that people create imbalanced bodies, rounded shoulders. We start working too much of the anterior part of the body or the upper body at least.

I would suggest to anybody, if you're serious about doing resistance training, if you're serious about the health of your body, not only from an aesthetic perspective, not only from a weight management perspective, but also from a long-term health postural, muscular [inaudible 00:12:51] health perspective. I would suggest to invest in, at the very least, a small pair of dumbbells. That's going to give you far more range to engage in resistance training than not having them at all. It's a massively worthwhile investment, Dave.

Dave: You beat me to it because my next question was going to be: You probably get this all the time, people that will email or call you and say, "Hey I'm thinking of buying X,Y,Z piece of equipment." To be honest with you, quite often when I take a look at that equipment, it's something that they've seen on TV or some of those very "infomercial-y" type pieces of equipment that you just know aren't a good purchase.

Daniel: Oh yeah.

Equipment: Keep It Simple

Dave: Could you give us your top 3 or top 5 pieces that people should invest in, will get the best bang for their buck?

Daniel: I believe in it staying really really simple. I don't know about all of the infomercial equipment. I've seen things where you can just sit there, and it does the work for you. If it actually worked, I think we'd both be out of business wouldn't we?

Dave: Yeah.

Daniel: We see them, but I think keeping it simple is always the best idea. If we have simple pair of dumbbells, a kettlebell, and some resistance bands, I think you've got ... I would be able to give anybody, and I'm sure you would as well, a very complete workout with just those pieces of equipment. They're cheap, they're effective, and they do the job. They do the job. Functional is the word I was searching for, Dave. There we go. Functional.

You can move them in any way. If we were to expand it a little bit further, males might be interested in having a chin up bar. Then some slightly more expensive but very good equipment I would suggest is a TRX. I believe that's an American product actually.

Dave: Yeah totally.

Daniel: TRX is something that I think is very good. It replicates somewhat the Olympic rings, which I think from a movement prospective, are about the best piece of equipment. The problem is that me, now coming up to 40, I can't do a lot on the Olympic rings anymore. I think expecting other people to be able to do it would be a little bit over the top.

Dave: Yeah, no I agree. Something that I just want to emphasize that you said that was so important is the idea of training anterior versus posterior chains of muscles. For listeners, anterior basically think front side of body and posterior think of the back side of your body.

You, Daniel, work with so many people in a corporate setting who probably sit at their computer all day and already are getting very tight on that anterior side. You made the great point, start working the back side, the posterior muscles. You can't do that if you don't have some way of pulling.

Daniel: Yeah exactly. It's really, really hard. I've seen people talking about getting a towel and wrapping it around things. It's a lovely idea, but in reality unless you are really just after that scapular activation which would mean, obviously, the start of activating the back muscles to this point, you're not really going to move a lot further on from that.

To really properly work the posterior chain, the back part of your body, I do think, if you're going to do it from home, that small investment is good. You could always use, it sounds ridiculous, but little tins of beans and things like this. It sounds like a crazy thing to say. Actually, we've seen people doing it and getting some outstanding results.

Progress vs. Maintenance: What Can You Expect?

Dave: That's cool. Thinking back to Phil's question here and her saying she's worried about losing her results, but she actually uses the word ... Can you recommend something for maintenance? Can you talk a little bit about how quickly results sort of dissipate or go away and what people would need to do in order to maintain?

Daniel: I think the first thing to point out there is that progress and maintenance are actually very, very different things. To maintain where you are, is actually quite straightforward. I think that just simple activations of all the muscles that you have, a good diet is going to prevent what we call atrophy which is the loss of muscle mass. The body doesn't like losing muscle.

Retaining muscle mass is often quite as simple as actually using every muscle in your body so it knows to retain it. Building muscle mass, making your muscle denser, for the ladies out there that don't want to end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, that's a bit of a challenge. You have to work very hard.

To retain it, and let me know if you agree with this Dave, is as straightforward as making sure that all of those muscles are being worked on a regular basis. I think that the fact that she's looking for the retention, the maintenance of what she's achieved, will make doing that from home actually a relatively straightforward thing as long as she has the discipline to be, and this is a really big word, consistent.

Dave: I, a hundred percent agree. That idea of, you said, activating each of those muscles. The problem is when people go on vacation, and particularly for a long trip say over the summer. I know people in Canada at least will go up to their cottage and be away from the gym for months, is you don't activate very many of the muscles in your body just by doing daily activities.

People will say, "Well I'm going to go running." Okay that's great, but you are missing out on some very key muscle groups that when you get back into the gym, you're going to notice a big difference.

Beware the Mirror Muscles!

Daniel: Absolutely. We come back to the ... I know that you work a lot in corporate settings as well. We come back again and again to that problem with our bodies working in an anterior manner. Always, we're always ... Even if we're running, it's our hip flexors, it's our quads, it's our chest that we're pumping. The anterior is where we are often neglecting. That requires activities, and I know that we can talk about ...

I'm sure you have some great programs that people can follow from home, where we activate those, but it does require discipline and work and remembering to actually work those muscles. Whether it's within a program or it's just on your own with a little program that you've written that you go out to the park and do. It's important to hit those back muscles,

It's important to hit those back muscles, them hamstrings. The muscles that you can't see actually.

Dave: I love that point. Quite often, I'm guilty of this too, is we look in the mirror and think, "Wow, I'm looking good," or "Oh, I'm not looking so good." We have no clue what our back looks like.

Daniel: Absolutely. We call them in England the mirror muscles.

Dave: Yeah exactly.

Daniel: Yeah. Pretty much. You go to gyms up and down the country, and you can see the admiring glances that people have for their mirror muscles. They're not so often looking at the back.

Dave: While you're speaking there just talking about this idea of activating muscles for maintenance, I remember I was writing an article about a year ago and read a research study while I was preparing the article. It was talking about 2 groups of people who ... They're basically seeing how quickly muscle atrophy actually takes place.

Less Work Than You Think

One group, for 12 days, completely went off training. The other group, for 12 days, was allowed to train once. I don't remember off the top of my head the specific numbers, but it was astronomical the difference in strength and overall physique maintenance in that group that only got 1 training session. I remember coming away feeling like that's a message people need to hear. That you don't have to be in the gym 5 days a week while you're on holidays to maintain.

Daniel: Absolutely. I love that study. If you can find that and send it to me, I'd actually like to use that myself. Again, we get back to the point that maintenance is not that challenging. Actually, while we're talking about that, I think that it would be quite nice to point out that a lot of people have a pattern in their lives where they are either making progress, and let's call that all, or they are doing nothing.

They're either eating well, exercising regularly, pushing the boundaries, making sure they're making progress, feeling good, seeing them results, standing on the scales, or they stop. They go backwards, and they start eating crisps or potato chips in front of the television.

Contrary to popular belief, too much fitness is not good, too little isn't either. Find your middle ground.

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I think that what's really important, if people want to get the long term results that they seek, is that they find occasionally that middle ground. Where, okay, at the moment I don't have it in me, my life's a challenge. I'm under lots of stress. There's lots going on.

We don't have to be working out 20 times a week, 5 times a week, even 3 times a week. You just have to be doing enough. Even if it's 1 workout. Even if it's just a couple of days staying away from the foods that you know aren't necessarily as good for you. They're maintenance phases. When you're in the nothing, if we call it the nothing, and you're not really pushing it.

If you can stop yourself going backwards just imagine how far you'll be going forwards again the next time you hit that zone, if we call it the zone. The next time you're in the zone, if you haven't gone backwards, wow, you're going to find a whole new level of fitness.

Dave: That is such a powerful message. It sort of transcends just exercise. I know in diet, people talk about that all the time. Well I already cheated on my diet, so I'm going to call this day or this week or this month, a write off and I'll start again sometime in the future. As opposed to, okay, I can't do everything 100 percent perfectly today, but I can do whatever.

Daniel: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that you've hit a really great point there again, Dave, which is that when people make mistakes, they think that they're doing something wrong. I can tell everybody now, you will miss workouts. You will have days when you eat some bad foods. You will have days when you lose faith in the process. It happens to all of us. I experienced that. I don't want to speak for you, Dave, but I'm sure you experienced that.

Failure is a form of experience you earn. And then it's the courage to continue that pays off!

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Dave: Sure.

Daniel: The difference is just being able to let that go and saying, "There's nothing wrong with me. This is just normal." We're human. Some days we don't do quite as well as we think we should and that happens. Success is about letting that go, forgiving yourself, and moving on. Get back to it. Get back to it. I'm pleased you brought it up because I think that's a really powerful thing for people to understand.

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Dave: Yeah, no I agree. Now, I think we could probably keep on chatting because you and I have a lot of similar philosophies when it comes to fitness and exercise, but I do want to wrap this up with what I call a Make Your Body Work Takeaway. This is just one point that you can really drive home and leave people with, and I was actually wondering ...

Usually I don't do this, but I would like to ask you a question for the Make Your Body Work Takeaway. Could you recommend, let's say 3, 3 exercises that people can do when they're on the road or wherever they are away from the gym, that will activate the most muscles possible?

Daniel: Okay. You've thrown that on me.

Dave: I did. Sorry.

Daniel: Just 3 exercises that people could take away. Okay, so the first one, I would say has to be the bent over row, but you need to have some dumbbells for that or at least some tins of beans. Now, it's going to be quite difficult for me to explain, but I'm sure that you'll have somewhere ...

You got somewhere on your website where people could find the bent over row, or they can Google it. I think the reason it's very important is it enables you to work the back muscles through that scapular retraction. I think that's really, really important. It's not the most complete exercise, but I think it's a very [inaudible 00:25:03] important exercise for a lot of people, the bent over row.

I suggest doing it with both arms at the same time because then we're maximizing, we're compounding what's happening. We know that that has a better metabolic effect. It burns more calories, right?

Dave: Perfect. These exercises, I know I did spring that on you last minute, but I will post videos in this podcast episode. For the listeners, if you go to because this is the 39th episode, I'll have some videos for these recommended exercises. Bent over row, love it. I couldn't agree more. What else do you have?

Daniel: The next exercise no one's going to really like me for, but I may go for an old school because I come from an old school training background, and that's the burpee. There's 2 ways that you can do the burpee. Actually, there's several ways that you can do the burpee.

There's a moderated version where we do 1 leg at a time, but the reason I like the burpee is, with the exception of the back, it pretty much works every muscle in the body. The core, the legs, it works the triceps. It works the shoulders, but it also works the heart and lungs. It's a massive challenge, so the burpee, for me, is a great exercise for people to do.

Dave: Cool. Yeah. Again, like you said, the cardio plus resistance training all in one. We've got a bent over row. We've got a burpee. If they got one more, what would you say?

Daniel: I'm going to go for the squat. I want to keep it simple. I'm going to go for the squat. I want things that people can actually do. The squat, it's not going to work ... You'll notice that we haven't really got any chest or anterior deltoids in this little routine, but actually I think that that's ... I find they're the most overworked muscles in most people anyway because of the way they sit at their desks and have always these muscles engaged.

The squats, it works the hamstrings, it works the glutes. When it's worked correctly, it works the core muscles as well. The legs are big muscles. Therefore, we're also getting that benefit of burning lots of calories because we are using a lot of muscle when we move.

Dave: Amen. That's actually ... For all the listeners who are thinking, "Well I want to get lean, and I want to burn fat." These exercises in our whole conversation, talking about working the posterior chain, the back side of your body. If you can build those muscles, think about your lats, think about your glutes, your hamstrings, all those backside muscles. They are huge muscles, and we all know the more muscle you carry, the more calories you're going to be burning even when you're at rest.

Daniel: Absolutely. Perfect.

Dave: Now Daniel, I know people are going to be interested in learning more about The Body Project, and I know you've got a ton of videos that demonstrate all kinds of exercise, tutorials. Where can people find out about you and see the work that you're doing?

Daniel: People can work out for free with us. You can go to YouTube, type body project into the search bar. Our workouts will come up. They're completely free of charge. You can do them from home. We've got a mixture of Pilates. We've got resistance. We've got cardio. They are simple. They're not complicated to do. They're suitable for all fitness levels. You can do them from anywhere. That's all you've got to do. YouTube, body project.

Dave: Just awesome. Daniel, thank you so much for your time and your expertise. Really appreciate it.

Daniel: Thanks, Dave. It's been a pleasure speaking to you.

Dave: Thanks again, Daniel, for joining us today and for sharing some really practical information, but also just a really inspiring message that just because we're traveling or we're going to be away from the gym, does not at all mean we need to lose the progress that we've worked so hard for. Really appreciate that positive thinking, that positive message.

Thanks to all of you, the listeners. I know I've said it before, but without you, there would be no Make Your Body Work Podcast. I appreciate you tuning in, and I appreciate your questions. If you have a question about health, fitness, nutrition, whatever it is, I'd love to hear from you.

I read every single email that I get and personally respond to every single email that I get. I'd love to hear from you and whether or not it makes it on to a future podcast episode, I'll still take the time to respond, and I'd love to help you out. feel free to email me anytime.

For anyone who wants some help, getting into a good routine like we talked about today, getting into a fitness routine. Then pairing that with an ideal eating program or an eating routine for the purposes of getting fit and losing weight, I would love to be your coach. I run a program, it's called the 10 in 4 challenge, and that's what it's all about. Taking 4 weeks to really dial in your exercise routine and your eating habits with the goal of losing 10 pounds in 4 weeks. You can check that out at or if you have questions, again email me Thanks so much, and I look forward to seeing you here next week.

Thanks for joining me today!

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