According to the most recent American Express Survey, London ranks as the top destination for United States business travelers. In fact, over 25 million business travelers visited London on assignment in 2016. Daily expenses in London decreased 15% from last year, which gives business travellers more latitude in choosing healthy dining, booking and lifestyle options as opposed to simply the cheapest.
The typical business trip can be deleterious to your health, deplete your energy reserves, and degrade your work performance. Jet lag, airport food and disrupted sleep cycles wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm—your body’s natural restorative process to keep you healthy and able to perform at your best.
According to the Harvard Business Review, business travel “accelerates aging and increases the likelihood of suffering a stroke, heart attack, and deep-vein thrombosis.” Furthermore, frequent business travellers find difficulty in maintaining a healthy lifestyle due to the poor diet, lack of exercise and improper recovery that can leave them feeling disoriented in a state of chronic jetlag.
In addition to these health risks for frequent flyers, transportation within London is also taxing on business travelers. Commuting within London is an overwhelming gauntlet of crowds and rushed foot-traffic. The tube stations are sweltering, poorly ventilated and jam-packed with busy workers hustling to their next meeting. However, with a mindset focused on fitness, recovery and clean eating, you’ll return from your business trip in balance.
If you’re one of the 25 million business travelers targeting London this year – perhaps attending the the Skift Global Forum, WTM London or the fourth annual London Tech Week this June – here are 10 ways to hit your health, relaxation and fitness KPI’s.
Get Fit Like a London Native
After travelling across the pond, give your work performance and health a boost by training like a London native.
1. Try a New Type of Yoga at Fierce Grace Yoga
For millennials, “Happy Hour” at the pub has been replaced by a new trend in after-work socializing: Yoga. If you’re looking to fulfill your networking quota while also traveling inward, a mat is waiting for you at Fierce Grace yoga. After a transatlantic flight in a cramped airplane seat, nothing feels better than stretching, floating, sprawling and flowing through poses in a heated room. Fierce Grace offers 6 unique classes with distinct focuses on alignment, toning, stretching and cardio.
Fierce Grace’s class de résistance is a signature flow that incorporates twists and inversions. After trying your first session, you’ll never want to return to Bikram-style yoga again. Instead of clamping your arms above your head for what seems like hours, Fierce Grace keeps you guessing with a multitude of additional poses rather than repeating the same 26 postures over and over again. You’ll leave class dripping with sweat, having removed toxins collected from plane travel. Plus, you’ll exude a supremely confident posture that can leave a powerful first impression at your next business meeting.
2. Work Out in Your Hotel Room with the Help of a Local
If those long work meetings aren’t leaving you with 60-90 minutes free to take a heated yoga class, we recommend subscribing to Cat Meffan’s Youtube Channel for daily flows that you can do in the privacy of your own hotel room.
Cat, a London native, offers individually tailored yoga flows to suit many travel-related issues. If you have a sore back from a long flight, tight hips, or if you’re simply feeling low on energy, Cat offers specifically designed movements such as heart-openers and stretches for tight hamstrings to fix you right up.
3. Monkey Around at the Arch Climbing Center
London’s premier bouldering center offers three locations within the city for you to release your inner monkey. The Arch Climbing Wall is basically a playground for adults. You’ll find more freedom with bouldering than traditional rock climbing centers because there are no ropes and there’s no need for belaying partners. Instead, the climbing walls top-out at around two stories, and the ground is covered with a dense mattress material for safety.
Bouldering is rewarding on both a physical and mental level. Besides gaining strength and confidence, you’ll also feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment by reaching the top of routes, or “problems,” even if they are only 5 meters off the ground. Because climbing requires total focus over your limbs, the mind tunes out work-related responsibilities.
The confidence gained through facing intimidating challenges, troubleshooting problems and progressing through novel skills is applicable to the business world. It’s a confidence you carry with you outside of the bouldering gym. Work presentations and the negotiation table will seem less daunting. As Alex Honnold, the most accomplished ropeless climber puts it, “The process of overcoming your own fear all the time helps put life’s other challenges into perspective.”
When you boil it down, bouldering is physical problem solving. If you’re new to bouldering, The Arch offers introductory lessons for £20, which teach you the basic principles of technique and safety. Lessons include equipment hire as well as free entrance to the centres for the rest of the day.There are three locations to choose from: Arch North in Burnt Oak along with Building One and The Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey. You can rent climbing shoes, a locker and chalk at the front desk.
Recover, Relax and Indulge
London boasts many world-class relaxation and recovery options that can make your business trip feel more like an indulgent getaway.
4. Enjoy a Spa Day at M Hotel by Montcalm
M Hotel is absolutely the best hotel in London for business travelers. The M is located in prime real estate for business travelers, soaring above Tech City’s startups in the Shoreditch / Tech City neighborhood.
Shoreditch, a once-fading warehouse district has been reimagined as an up-and-coming neighborhood with a focus on blossoming businesses. Blank brick building facades have transformed into canvases for hipster murals.
Shoreditch is adjacent to East London Tech City, aka the “Silicon Roundabout,” which represents the largest conglomeration of technology startups. The M Hotel is also connected to London’s financial center, as Old Street Tube station (a 3-minute walk) is only a five-minute Tube ride to London Bridge via the northern line.
Designed by London-based architecture firm Squire and Partners, The M’s architecture is “stop in your tracks” stunning. With a gaping jaw, you’ll wonder how this 2 dimensional shape exists in the three dimensional world. Within its mind-bending architecture lies a sneaky little secret—a full-service spa.
For business travelers, the M’s state of the art spa and gym provide an upscale and uber-convenient environment to both reduce anxiety and rebuild a healthy immune system after a hectic travel schedule. Complimentary sauna and steam room sessions can heal the respiratory system after breathing recirculated airplane air. Nothing combats jetlag and soreness from your red-eye flights better than a spa package, including massage rituals and beauty treatments that are only an elevator ride away.
5. Try Rolfing
Rolfing is an alternative healing remedy that focuses on structural integration and body realignment. It breaks down fascia that causes movement limitations. A much safer and more restorative method than chiropractors, this deep-tissue massage technique lubricates the body. You’ll walk in feeling like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz and leave feeling like Baryshnikov.
Naomi Wynter-Vincent, a certified Rolfer and founder of London Rolfing, emphasizes the specific benefits of rolfing for business travelers:
“Business travel places enormous demands on the body: sitting for long periods in cramped airline seats, overnighting in strange beds, and changes to diet and sleeping patterns that wreak havoc on body and mind. Rolfing is designed to promote balance and adaptability in both your posture and your nervous system: releasing postural restrictions such as tight shoulders and stiff hips, creating greater ease in walking, breathing, and sitting, and allowing travellers to arrive feeling refreshed and ready for business.”
6. Unwind with Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral therapy is a calming healing modality that is part psychology session and part massage where the practitioner “holds space” for you to make you feel comfortable, safe and nurtured. For business travelers in this millennial age with expectations to always be connected to cellphones and email, craniosacral therapy is key.
One study conducted by World Bank frequent travellers revealed that they made three times more claims to their medical insurance for psychological issues compared to colleagues who didn’t travel. To combat anxiety that comes with air-travel, long queues, crowds and the sensation of an ever-growing inbox, craniosacral therapy literally slows down time.
The College of Cranio-sacral Therapy, in London’s Primrose Hill Neighborhood, is the first, the largest, and the most established College of Cranio-Sacral Therapy in Europe. Craniosacral therapists take a comprehensive look at the mind-body system for overall well-being.
Treatment is available seven days a week at a range of costs to suit every need. The centre is also a multi-disciplinary health centre offering Osteopathy, Homoeopathy, Acupuncture, Shiatsu, Physiotherapy, Reflexology, counselling and other therapies.
7. Behold the Sunset with a City View
A fantastic way to recover from London’s commute is to visit Primrose Hill neighborhood. Even for the most jaded city goer, Primrose Hill is liveable. Compared to downtown London areas, the quieter streets are lined with quaint stores selling local wares. Primrose Hill exudes a neighborhood community feel. Big red buses and suited business people are replaced by couples pushing strollers. A meandering hike up to the top of Primrose Hill rewards you with a view that far exceeds the effort: a panorama of the entire city. To unwind after a grueling workday, we recommend selecting a bottle of wine at one of the local shops and soaking in the sunset view over the city.
One common complaint about business travel is that it’s hard to eat healthy. Airline foods are infused with salt and sugar in order to preserve them. Unfortunately, these ingredients yield the exact opposite results in frequent business travellers, resulting in dehydration and obesity. However, if you’re lucky enough to be traveling to London, a variety of restaurants offer focus on creative and exciting vegan menus.
According to Happy Cow, a mobile app that lets you find the closest meat-free dining options, London is ranked amongst the top five cities for vegan restaurants on the globe. Business Travel News puts the average daily spending for meals at $96.89. If you keep alcohol at a minimum, that per diem can take you a long way.
8. Indulge in a Vegan Fry up Black Cat Cafe
Black Cat Cafe offers a large menu of vegetarian friendly and vegan options that evoke home-cooking style, indulgent dishes. The giant portions are a satisfying reversal for vegetarians who are used to ordering disappointing veggie side-dishes as their main course. Give yourself a treat on the weekend and try the Vegan Fry Up, which consists of vegusto sausage, homemade baked beans, fried potatoes and a thick bread slice.
- Location: 76 Clarence Road, Hackney
- Average Price: Inexpensive
- Open Hours: 12PM – 9PM Weekdays (closed Tuesdays)
9. Go Full English at Cook Daily
Cook Daily serves delicious contemporary Asian vegan bowls with a brown rice, quinoa or noodle base. You’ll find crowd favorites like veggie pad thai and coconut curry with tofu and ‘chikin’ substitutes available. Cook Daily now offers a Full English bowl which consists of a Tofu “egg” scramble with mushrooms, tomatoes, greens, vegan sausage and a swirl of house brown sauce topped with crispy ‘baecon’ over a brown rice and quinoa mix. The English bowl comes with a “cuppa” tea. The environmentally conscious business traveler will rejoice while being served with a recycled cardboard bowl and wooden spoon.
- Location: 2-4 Bethnal Green Road, Boxpark
- Average Price: Moderate
- Open Hours: 12PM – 9PM Weekdays
10. Grab Veggie Snacks on the Go at Vegetarian Pret
Pret’s first vegetarian only pop-up store experiment was a total success. Pret offers veggie options for business travellers on the go. Catering to London’s worldly clientele, veggie Pret offers international dishes like a vegan Asian Greens Veggie Pot with avocado, peas, edamame and coriander topped with an asian-inspired dressing. You’ll also find a vegan Cauliflower & Chickpea Dahl filled with cauliflower florets, green chickpeas, yellow split peas, lentils, and tomatoes simmered in a flavorful vegetable bouillon. As you tour London, look for more veggie Prets to pop up around the city.
- Location: 35 Broadwick Street, Soho
- Price Range: Inexpensive
- Open Hours: 6:30AM – 9PM Weekdays
Although business travel can take its toll on the mind and body, we hope this guide to London’s fitness, wellness and nutrition options will help you navigate the city and command the boardroom.