On a Saturday morning in Miami Beach following a night of low-key partying (read: long wine-fueled dinner and more than one whiskey-based cocktail), I walked out of my room at The Confidante to the spa. It had been a week full of events fêting Art Basel, the annual December art fair. Galleries from across the world descend upon the city transforming everything from parks to pools into works of art, but like everything else in Miami, this event has become much more of a social gathering than a work function.
While I secretly hoped to detox with a massage before sprawling out at the pool, trainers Christopher and Tracie Vlaun were ready and waiting in the spa to take me to the beach for a different type of detox. The fitness power couple behind the boutique brand V Art of Wellness are known for keeping everyone from royalty to Olympic athletes in shape. Tracie is a former Elite model who has traveled the globe for everything from photo shoots to yoga training sessions in spots like South Africa, in addition to co-hosting Travel Channel shows like Get Packing. Christopher, meanwhile, is a pioneer in the outdoor fitness movement. While I was dying during the sprinting portion of that morning’s beach boot camp, for instance, he was highlighting the benefits of training in the sand and smelling the saltwater from the sea. When they’re not in Miami, the couple leads retreats everywhere from Park City to Cabo, and they make the concept of training on the road seem just as obvious as avoiding sugary drinks at Starbucks when you’re on a diet.
“We are often asked, ‘If you were to pick one exercise that will hit everything—and fast—what would it be?’” Tracie says. For her, the go-to that can be done anywhere is a “body blast,” in which you drop into a squat position, then out into a plank, back into a squat, and then throwing a quick punch combo. Proof that even in winter months, whether you’re basking on a beach in Miami or cozying up in a chalet in Switzerland, you can still stay fit.
This is just one example of how winter travel doesn’t necessarily mean a detour from your daily health routine. You can still indulge in local delicacies without packing on the pounds with a few tips and tricks from go-to in-room workouts (sans weights) to navigating breakfast buffets like a pro.
“Nothing starts your day off better than a great breakfast and when traveling, pancakes and waffles might sound like the perfect vacay eats, but this will only disappoint you when the bikini comes on,” Tracie says. Instead, she recommends a protein-packed meal for strength and energy, such as eggs (served up any way you like) and freshly squeezed organic grapefruit juice for a boost of Vitamin C (that also helps with fat burning).
Hotel breakfast buffets are also getting savvier when it comes to offering healthier options instead of just the standard pancakes and bagels. Restaurants are adding options like oatmeal, fresh fruit, yogurt and cottage cheese, all much better picks than sugary cereals and low-protein muffins. Another tip: “Simple is better when it comes to morning beverages,” says Marissa Ciorciari, MS, RD, LD/N, CLT, a nutritionist at Carillon Miami Wellness Resort. “Forgo fancy coffee or chocolate drinks and juices, and save hundreds of calories.”
Derek DeGrazio, managing partner and head trainer at the Miami Beach outside of Hollywood hotspot Barry’s Bootcamp (dubbed “The Best Workout in the World” since you can burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour) recommends bringing a snack like nuts or protein bars so you (and not the hotel or airline) control what you’re eating. Travel light with a resistance band in your luggage, which can be used for a variety of exercises in hotel rooms, or plan ahead and book a hotel that has a great gym or is near one.
Damian Fisher, founder of Monaco-based boot camp Boost Monaco, also advises looking into the local area for gyms, parks and running trails. “Running is a great way to see a city and also to get some fresh air and clear the mind,” he says. “Create your own city circuit by making use of the local amenities like stairs, benches and hand railings.” If you need running route inspiration, look to apps like MapMyRun to plot a trail.
Straight from the Chefs
Executive Chef Kellie Evans, who leads haute cuisine-focused Oceania Cruises’ onboard cooking classes and market tours, also highlights eggs as a go-to source of protein while traveling. “Eggs are at the top of my list because no matter where you are in the world, eggs are still a clean, complete, reliable and healthy source of protein,” she says. “If I am at a nice hotel or on the ship, I order my traditional poached eggs, but usually hard boiled eggs aren’t hard to find either.”
Not only is this one way to stay on track with your diet, you can still sample local delicacies along the way, embracing global egg preparations like shakshuka in North Africa, quiche in France and huevos rancheros in Mexico.
If you’re looking for a restaurant while traveling, applications like Healthy Places or the vegetarian Happy Cow can also make it easier to find healthy, local options.
For Erik Bozic, head chef at tennis champ Novak Djokovic’s health-conscious Monte-Carlo bistro Eqvita, you can indulge in delicacies (such as Rome’s best cannoli or a slice of pizza in Naples), but “keep in mind the importance of knowledge of the culture and food that you are indulging in.” It may seem obvious to avoid fast food chains, but even when you’re looking for something quick and easy on the go, a better pick is a local farmer’s market. “Spend some time with the good folks over there and get some proper locally grown veggies and fruit in your basket,” Bozic says. And one surefire way to stay on track: “Pack some dark (vegan) chocolate in your bag,” he recommends. “It saves the day.”
Lane Nieset is a freelance travel writer based out of Miami, Florida.