3 Tips For Training While Traveling
by: Gene Byard
A common question I get from every Muay Thai student, from novice to seasoned fighter, is, “How do I keep my training going while I’m traveling or on vacation?” This is a great question to ask, and with a little preparation, it’s an easy problem to solve. These three options will help you to keep your momentum going while away from home. For all of these options, preparation is key. You need to know what you’ll have at your disposal, so take an hour or two and do your research. Google and Facebook are your friends. Are there Muay Thai gyms in the area? Are there MMA gyms with striking programs? Is there a globo-gym (Crunch, Gold’s, etc.) that has a heavy bag? What’s the weather forecast? A little bit of homework will go a long way with your training.
Before we do a deeper dive into some specific options, I’d like to offer a catch-all training solution that can be incorporated into all three across the board: Running. Roadwork can be done just about anywhere, and it will pay off. Improved cardio and lower body conditioning go hand-in-hand with your standup game, it costs nothing, and the varieties are endless. You should already be incorporating running into your training, so just keep it up while traveling. That’s the no-brainer part of the training equation, so now let’s look at three different scenarios ranging from best to worst case.
Option #1: The Best-case Scenario
The best-case scenario is that there’s a reputable Muay Thai or striking gym convenient to wherever you’re going to be staying. I am a strong advocate of training at other gyms while traveling and I encourage my students to do this whenever possible. There are a few things I’ve learned over the years that will make for a smoother experience, most of which revolve around contacting the gym ahead of time. Ask what their drop-in fees are. What is their rank and class structure like? Will there be sparring? Do they have loaner gear or reasonably priced gear for sale? Taking the time to find out things like this will make training much more enjoyable for you and your host.
Time permitting, I also like to observe a class before I train there. Do they have in-house traditions like bowing when coming onto the mat? Is their sparring intense or dangerous? There’s a lot of little things you can pick up on that may not necessarily be listed or immediately obvious.
When you’re on the mats or in the ring at your temporary home, be sure to carry yourself accordingly. Whether you like it or not, when you’re training in someone else’s gym, you’re representing your home gym so make a good impression. If you act like an idiot (sparring too hard, being a selfish training partner, etc.) they are going to assume everyone from your home gym is also an idiot.
Option #2: The Middle Scenario
Let’s say where you’re going has no high quality Muay Thai. It’s less than ideal, but not the end of the world. The next best option would be a commercial gym with a heavy bag. I’ve found that in this situation the phone is your friend. GloboGymTech has lots of cool pictures online. They have a rack of heavy bags. You get there ready to rock, only to find out, “Oh sorry, we’re remodeling that wing to make way for KetoBurn group classes.” Plan ahead, find that gym with a working heavy bag.
A heavy bag has endless opportunities. There are literally hundreds of workouts available to you, so use the bag with a purpose. Don’t just flail away. I like to do three 14 minute interval rounds (A set work time, and a set rest time, back to back.) The first set will be a loose “anything goes” round to get warmed up and moving around. The second set will be all power with a specific focus like end each combo with a kick, or start each combo with a counter. The final, third set, will be all volume based where I throw combinations of at least five or more. Run a mile or two before and after this, and you’ve got an intense all encompassing workout.
Option #3: The Worst-case Scenario
“Coach, I’m traveling to the Arctic Circle. There’s no Muay Thai gyms, there’s no Bally Fitness. What do I do?” If you’ve got 20 square feet of flat space, you’ve got something to work with. Shadowboxing is something all of us can stand to do more of, so now’s your chance. Just like bag work above, shadowboxing should be done with a purpose. Set a theme for each round. I like to start with three warm up rounds. First I’ll do only footwork, then next round is hands, in the final round you can add lower body. You can sprinkle abs or burpees in between rounds to get the heart rate up as well. Do you have access to hand weights? Add those in, or use them for burnouts, at the end of each round. Did you pack your jump rope? Work that into your workout. Finally, yes, do some running for the love of all that’s holy.
Traveling and being away from your home gym can be a drag. However, it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes it’s good to decompress from the day to day grind and get out of your normal routine. Keep these tips in mind, and you can come back home refreshed and ready to pick up where you left off.
Here are a few more quick travel tips to help you maintain training consistency:
-Don’t eat like garbage the whole time you’re away. Have a fun, gluttonous meal here and there, but don’t let your diet go down the toilet.
-Use your down time to watch more Muay Thai. If you have internet access, YouTube has millions of hours of Muay Thai available to you. You can mine a lot of great ideas and inspiration by watching video.
-Wildcard! Do something active OTHER THAN Muay Thai. Hit a spin bike class, go to a climbing gym, or go for a long hike. It’s okay to take a break from Muay Thai for short bits. It’ll be there when you get back.