For busy travelers, on old-fashioned workout is back in vogue
Calisthenics come back as the do-it-fast-and-anywhere workout for travelers.
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Pierre Rougier, a publicist in Manhattan, is known as one of the fashion's industry's most powerful behind-the-scenes players.
But during his monthly trips to Paris or Milan, the source of Rougier's power derives not only from his media contacts and his shrewd handling of designers and their latest apparel lines, but also from the way he starts his morning: with an intense, 15-minute exercise regimen done in his hotel room, his apartment in Paris or even, on warm days, outdoors at the nearby Jardin des Tuileries.
"These workouts are quick, explosive and intense," said Rougier, who is president of an agency called PR Consulting. "I feel totally energized when they're done."
There are no weights, machines, kettle bells, treadmills or any of the other popular gym accessories in this exercise repertoire. Using his 195 pounds of body weight as resistance, the fit, 6-foot 3-inch Rougier moves rapidly through a series of exercises that would be recognizable to any World War II-era GI as the kind of calisthenics performed in basic training.
And yet, the fast-paced, minimal-rest, pant-provoking circuit of push-ups and jumping jacks and squat thrusts has a very up-to-date feel to it, something the trend-conscious 48-year-old has noticed.
"I've watched some of those P90X infomercials," Rougier said, referring to the popular home exercise workout program. "They look very efficient, these guys seem to get ripped, but I think I'd have been more comfortable doing that when I was 25 or 30."
"I've worked up to this," said Rougier, who has practiced the workout with his personal trainer, Rob Morea. "Rob watched my form to make sure I'm doing it right. I'm not a kid, I have to be careful."
In his Great Jones Street studio in Manhattan, Morea trains many people who travel frequently for business and prescribes similar workouts when they are about to go out of town. Lately, he says, the reaction is similar.
"When I run through this with my clients, they say, 'Oh wow, this is like Insanity,"' he said, referring to another popular exercise program. "They think they're going on the road and doing the hottest workout in fitness."
"Things just run in cycles in this industry, and this seems like the latest and hot thing," says Jeffrey Potteiger, an exercise scientist at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Still, unlike many past fitness trends, a circuit of body-weight exercises, performed properly, is an effective way to stay in shape — especially, he notes, for time-pressed business travelers.
"If I was away on business and I had limited time, I think that would be an excellent workout to do," Potteiger said. "You're going to challenge the major muscle groups, maintain fitness, and because you're doing the exercises in rapid succession, you're going to raise your heart rate and get some of the cardiovascular benefits. Plus, you don't need a lot of space and time."
These workouts do have their limits, of course: A regimen of body-weight exercises is likely to maintain but not increase strength. Moreover, he said, these short-duration workouts "shouldn't be considered a replacement for one's regular cardiovascular routine." So business travelers who prefer to go for a five-mile run or a brisk, two- or three-mile walk should do so.
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