Surviving an Executive conference whilst maintaining your fitness

People at a conference
Barbara Wilson
Tue 05 Nov

We all attend conferences throughout the year; some more than others. The business trip, the weekend away; the combo of work and play. For some it’s the peak event as many business people may work individually in an office and for others getting away from the office within a large corporation is a time to escape and head to an idealised location to refuel and appreciate new skills and ideas with like-minded peeps. The venue being a luxury hotel, a country estate, a bed and breakfast etc.

Part work, part social, where no expense is spent on calibre wines, degustation meals where we eat, eat, eat and the drinks pour, pour and pour. No sooner are you up and you can hear the clicking of cups its breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea, snacks on the balcony, dinner, after dinner recap…. you get the gist! 

As someone who has a routine exercise pattern, I would dread the annual executive conference. How could I go without exercising? How could I cope just sitting sedentary all day and eat consuming with no exercise?

Research also has indicated we are taking more and more of these executive trips and attending executive conferences. We want to learn, share ideas, network, branch out. We are inquisitive specimens, looking to learn and to educate others. But we all know that staying fit and attending these events don’t usually go hand-in-hand since we’re breaking routine. We also know that to be powerhouses mentally we need to be strong physically. To be resilient, secure, robust and staunch and have the stamina to perform at our peak at such events. Mind power! 

You still want to be part of the team, the squad, the group but you also want to stay true to your fitness. You don’t want to be aloof or anti-social with your crew or guests and you still want to get a buzz out this event. But what about all that voluminous food and drink. Why can’t you enjoy it? Why can’t you taste the dessert platter, hit the buffet or savour the main meal of duck? The answer is you can!

So how can the busy executive keep fitness as a priority along with working at pinnacle form mentally?

Many executive conferences are held in hotels, resorts and country estates. You will find they do have a gym, golf courses, a pool, even beautiful lush gardens to walk through. During your down time engage in some of these activities. They are there for the guests to enjoy. Pack your fitness gear including your running shoes. Encourage others to join you. After our dinner I always invite anyone from the team to come for a walk early next morning with me. The interesting thing was I was prepared for no one  showing up. You know what happened. People showed up! Yes at 6.15am in the hotel lobby I was met by a group of them ready for a brisk morning walk. Yes, at 6.15am the next morning. T-shirts, visors, caps, shorts, tights, music pods ready. 

Trudge out of your work environment into the sunlight, open air space; take a path or be brave and venture out of the lodgings. 

One year we even used the large surrounding garden as a training circuit venue. We used benches for step ups, tricep dips and push ups. We walked, ran and laughed from tree to tree doing side sprints, shuttle runs and lunges. Our group grew and grew. Its now become part of the executive conference roster of events in-between breakfast and session one led by one of our CEO speakers.

Doing compound exercises is the go. Full body resistance that use multiple muscles such as push ups and squats. You are working your body all in one go.

Always travel with your fitness gear. Pack a resistance band or skipping rope. Not bulky in the packing department particularly for those executives who need space for suits, handbags and other attire. Here’s your strength and cardio workout that can be done both in or outdoors.

Do some HITT training as mentioned above which can be done in 20 minutes. Do some Tabata. 20 seconds on 10 seconds off. Do this with burpees and repeat 8 times. This high intensity gets your heart rate up and your body will continue to burn calories off long after you had those scones with jam and butter for morning tea.

Go for leisurely walks. Look around the surrounds, breath in the fresh air. Research indicates that busy executives need time to refocus and re-evaluate. If you are wanting to perform at a higher level you need to maintain this. It will reset you physically and of course mentally. Encourage this with your company. You could even include a yoga or stretch session in between your presentations.

Try and do something every day you are away. Doing something is better than nothing. Stretch before bed or do some crunches or calf raises.

Research tells us that companies with fitness focused leaders perform better. Leaders inspire and set the mood for others. Emphasising health and well being is vitally important in any work place.

Also, you don’t have to not enjoy the food and drink, just don’t overdo it so that you can’t attend the next days early meeting. Again, you want to be refreshed and illuminated to perform at your best. Drink water and choose wisely re the menu. Try the salads; good volume foods that fill your plate. Try the taster desserts just don’t taste everything! 

Set how many drinks you will have. It is a time to socialise but to what extend! Whilst enjoying an alcoholic beverage is fine, binge drinking for the sake of it as its free is not and can have serious consequences on your body and well-being, not to mention not being able to perform.

Sleep is also important. It is of vital importance to get enough sleep to proceed with a good balance of health and well-beingWe all know the benefits of this and that’s its linked to the quality of your life mentally, physically and in safety. You don’t have to stay up to all hours playing pool or exhausting candlelight in the dining area. The staff also have a life and want to retire for the night. Excuse yourself and hit the sack. Quality sleep will keep you alert and focused for the next day, in particular if sessions start bright and early. Be perky, attentive and observant.

Enjoy your next executive conference; a partnership of knowledge and fitness. Make wise choices. Keep the mind and body active by listening to it and make wise choices as you will relish it more and not put to ruin all the good work you have done in terms of your fitness routine.