Is training whilst traveling hard?
One of the most commonly echoed sentiments is that it’s hard to maintain your health routines and habits when you travel. With a little prep, however, that doesn’t need to be the case. The general idea here is that when there’s an overarching framework, it reduces the friction to go train and eat healthy. A hotel with a great gym is definitely an option. I recently took 2 trips to North Macedonia and compiled this overview of places to eat and train.
Trip 1: Ohrid
I trained in Exodus
This gym at the time of writing is brand new, we visited in the middle of July (2023) when they just opened in June. The facility is geared towards high-level clientele training. This means their clients tend to get trained personally and some athletes train there as well. It’s evident in their setup that they mean business.
They’ve got a rack and a track, for some functional training, they’ve got the free weight area for more bodybuilding-focused training, and a proper boxing ring (for someone with a martial arts background that’s a huge plus for me).
You get a protein shake, a coffee, or a coffee protein shake on the spot as well. The location is a bit out of the center, although it’s a nice walk, a taxi gets you there fast. The only thing missing is a shower, so that’s something to consider. The staff is very friendly and hospitable.
Our favorite place to eat was Kaj Mece which was near the hotel. It provided great local foods so we didn’t spend much time exploring other places.
TRIP 2: SKOPJE
Gym 1: Palestra
If you’re looking for a big new gym, this is the place. Right at the center edge located in the East Gate Mall, a huge new mall.
They’ve got it all: A big rig and a track with a sled and a tire, all the machines your heart would desire, a few power racks, high ceilings that make this huge gym feel EVEN bigger, and plenty of free weights for everyone, an outdoor terrace and a little shop where you can get some protein shake or buy products. The wardrobe is really clean and finished, with great showers.
Gym 2: Fitness Park
Fitness Park is located right next to the arena/stadium, which lends a bit to its vibe, as athletes from all over the world stay in the hotel. Which makes this also a great gym in terms of equipment. On the bottom floor, they have a rack with a lifting platform for those who like to lift heavy and or do Olympic lifting.
Part of the machines are located downstairs, alongside an incline bench press AND a decline bench press, talk about luxury 😉 Cable machines, cardio machines, and more free weights are located on the 2nd floor.
You can also get a healthy meal, snack, or protein shake at the bar there, which you can eat outside on the terrace overlooking the river and the hills.
WHAT TO EAT WHILE TRAVELING?
The first thing is that I abide by the principle of keeping my food as close to protocol as possible. Sometimes full alignment is possible, sometimes certain compromises need to be made. That being said, the level of service in North Macedonia makes it easy to stay on protocol.
The menu is typically more like a guideline, you can largely compose your own dish out of the food they have. This lowers the threshold considerably to apply my strategy, which is to focus on protein. I did this by ordering a mixed grill or a plate of mixed meats, and I always ask to leave off the fries or bread that typically comes with it. Asking them to leave off certain foods already decreases the temptation to eat things that aren’t aligned with my protocol, and bypasses the willpower or discipline needed to resist them.
Protein first is a simple and effective strategy because protein is the most satiating macronutrient. Think of your energy or metabolic needs like a fuel gauge in a car. Protein has an interesting impact on our hunger hormones and our “fuel sensors”, meaning that by loading up on protein the dial on the fuel gauge is going to sign “Full” pretty quickly. If you still want some carbs, I’d advise you to eat them right after you’ve made sure you’ve hit your protein target.
When I travel there’s not always that much time trying to balance between meetings, client check-ins and calls, and wanting to see a bit of the scenery. I’m a huge cultural and historic buff, so I’ll typically sacrifice a meal to go see the highlights. Even though I’m skipping a meal I’m making sure I get my protein intake met for the day by having goat milk protein powder from Urban Nutrition with me. It dissolves easily in water and has a great taste as it has some stevia. It has a round taste because of the mix of the stevia and the natural flavor goat milk has. I typically bring a shaker with a scoop or two of the mix, and after training or on the move I’ll just pour in the water and have my shake to go.
WHERE TO EAT IN SKOPJE?
The easiest way to navigate this, as counterintuitive as it sounds, is to avoid the most modern places. Most of the food comes from farms near the city, meaning that the food quality is very high and very fresh. Even the smallest most obscure-looking places have some amazing food. Another tip is to just keep your eyes open for where most locals tend to go, a full outside terrace has a tendency to speak of its popularity.
Traveling and maintaining health and fitness routines doesn’t have to be hard, especially considering you have a good system. A big part of this is also what I apply with clients and guide them through. To build these systems and habits, to reflect and introspect on values and the alignment of actions with these values, precisely so that it wouldn’t be hard. A lot of CEOs have some type of travel schedule and with a little bit of preparation, most of the effects of traveling can be mitigated and worked around so that their health doesn’t get compromised.
If you’re interested in this can be applied to you and your circumstances, fill in the contact form here!