Let's be real: Working out generally isn't a top priority when you're on vacation — and that's OK, traveling has other health benefits. But you've gotta go home (and back to the gym) eventually.
Luckily, there are a few ways to make the transition a whole lot smoother — even fun. Consider your hiatus a reason to reasses your goals, tap into your needs and hit the gym feeling more refreshed than ever.
Follow these tips from trainers, and you'll be back in the gym, sweating it out and prepping for your next outdoor adventure, in no time.
Consider What Your Body Needs
Were you inspired to surf while on vacation? Do you miss the feeling of soreness after an intense lifting session? Craving yoga after a stressful day of travel? Now's a good time to think about what your body needs and to set new goals if necessary. "Knowing what you're shooting for and having a path to get there will set you up for success," says Kourtney A. Thomas, certified strength and conditioning specialist.
Start With Smaller Steps
If you were logging an hour at the gym each day, but now you're not ready to work out for five minutes, don't set yourself up to fail with an unrealistic expectation of doing an hour-long workout everyday for the next seven days. Instead, take baby steps to motivate yourself during those workouts.
"As you ease back into your routine, don't worry too much about getting back to where you left off," says Thomas. Start with shorter sessions for a week or two — even 10 to 20 minutes — instead.
Dial Back the Intensity
"It might be tempting to pick up right where you left off, but you'll likely feel better, stronger and less overwhelmed if you ramp up instead," says Thomas.
Once you return to the gym, start by substracting 1 or 2 sets from your usual (depending on the volume of your workout program) and lifting lighter weights. "By easing back into things, you'll be at full tilt in no time, with a lot less fatigue," says Thomas.
Set Workout Dates
If you just say, "I'll go three times this week when I have the chance," it won't happen. Instead, treat your workouts like a doctor's appointment or a client meeting, and mark them down on your calendar. "While there's nothing magical about it, sometimes picking a Monday, or whatever day, just feels easier," says Thomas. This will also help establish a routine where hitting the gym will become a natural part of your day once again.
Nothing's more motivating than a non-refundable fitness class. "This is a great way to keep yourself accountable and quickly get back in the swing of things," says Sam Presicci, a certified personal trainer and lead dietitian at Snap Kitchen. Plus, classes help the workout fly by, as you're in a supportive community with fun, energizing music.
Sign Up for a Race
Also motivating? Having a race on the calendar. Most training plans start at six weeks, and progress in intensity each week, so this can offer a natural way to ease back into your fitness routine if you're up for the commitment.
Visualize Yourself in the Future
Visualization can be a great tool for boosting motivation, says Presicci. That means visualing yourself kicking butt at the gym, scoring a PR in your next long run or finally nailing crow pose.
A study in Psychiatric Annals showed that athletes who used visualization techniques when training improved their performance during games. Plus, by thinking of the end goal and how amazing you'll feel, you'll be motivated to get into the gym and bring that vision to life in the first place.
Recruit a Buddy
To stay motivated and accountable, recruit a workout buddy to join in on the fun. This also helps eliminate excuses, so you can catch up on what's been happening while you were gone and still squeeze in that workout, says Presicci. Let others be that little extra push you need to stay on track.