|There's always the pool. If nothing else, you posit, I'll get in a swim. Problem is, the shimmering, Olympic-size pool you imagine is seldom the one you'll get: a kidney-shaped tub that requires all of three strokes to cross. Swimming two jillion 25-foot laps is no one's idea of a good time, let alone a good workout. But with a small bag of tricks, you can find rigorous exercise in a pool of any dimensions.
Perhaps the best alternative is simply to swim in place. Scoff if you will, but Stanford men's coach Skip Kenney recommends it to his swimmers when they're marooned without an Olympic-size pool. The key is Strech Cordz, a device comprising a nylon belt and latex tubing that you attach to a fixed object. "Just tie yourself up to the ladder and swim for 30 minutes," says Kenney, who admits this can be "boring as hell." It's not really all that bad, though, as the cord's elasticity affords a sense of movement, so you can perform your stroke naturally.
If you're dying to break loose from your tether and stroke across the pool, Kenney suggests employing breath control to increase your effort: "Breathing every fifth stroke will get your heart rate up as if you were swimming in a regular pool."
Freedom of Expression
As an alternative or adjunct to conventional swimming try a buoyant water belt, such as the AquaJogger, that lets you work out vertically in the deep end. You can, in effect, run or cross-country ski, taking advantage of water's resistance — 12 times that of air, yet joint-friendly. Do a 30-minute workout that begins with water-running for 15 minutes, divided into segments of five, four, three, two, and one minutes. Between segments, do 20 seconds of sit kicks: Position yourself as if you're sitting in a chair and, alternating legs, kick out from each knee with toes pointed. Now do 15 minutes of cross-country skiing in five segments, as before. Keep arms and legs straight and scissor them forward and back. Cupping your hands increases upper-body resistance. Between segments, do 30-second bouts of modified jumping jacks, jumping your legs out to the side as you would on land and sculling your hands back and forth at shoulder height, like you're treading water. Travelers will appreciate that these belts weigh less than a pound and lie flat in virtually any suitcase.
Gear to Go
American Running and Fitness Association membership, which includes maps, personalized schedules, and medical advice, $25; 800-776-2732
AquaJogger buoyancy belt from Excel Sports Science Inc., $40; 800-922-9544
Bike Friday and travel case, from Green Gear Cycling, $1,183; 800-777-0258
Speedo Fit-Rope jump rope, $18; 800-547-8770
Strech Cordz swimming tether, from NZ Manufacturing, $41; 800-886-6621
Xertube stretch tubes, from Spri Products Inc., $6; 800-222-7774