How to stay fit when you’re on the road.
Hotel gyms range from bare bones all the way up to top-end luxury facilities offering classes and in-room equipment. They may have all you need to stick to your regular routine, but there’s a chance you’ll need to improvise and switch up your workouts.
Whether you’re limited to a pile of rusty old dumbbells or have a near-complete gym at your disposal, the trick is knowing how to work with what you have. Here are some tips to help road warriors and occasional travelers alike get the best workout possible, no matter what your hotel gym looks like.
Choose a workout that uses commonly found equipment
The quality and variety of equipment found in hotel gyms varies, but there are a few core pieces that you can usually count on finding. If you’re the kind of person who likes walking into the gym with a plan, try to choose a workout routine that uses these commonly found pieces of equipment:
1. Treadmill, elliptical or bike
Even the most sparse hotel gyms will usually have a treadmill. Better-equipped fitness centers will have ellipticals and bikes as well. Regardless, an option for cardio exercise is almost a guarantee.
For a hotel-friendly workout that is perfect if you’re short on time, choose a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) treadmill workout. HIIT workouts tend to be great for blasting away stress and can help offset any extra calories you may be consuming during your travels. However, especially after air travel, make sure you warm up properly before taking on any intense workout.
2. Free weights or cable machine
Weight training equipment like dumbbells — or sometimes kettlebells, barbells, or a cable machine — are another option that you can almost always find in a hotel gym. To keep up your strength while traveling with minimal equipment requirements, choose a full-body dumbbell workout.
The following workout requires nothing more than dumbbells and a treadmill. Warm up with five minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill, then perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise, resting for 45 seconds in between sets. Cool down with five minutes of walking on the treadmill.
- Dumbbell squat to press
- Dumbbell side bends
- Dumbbell chest press (perform on medicine ball for an extra challenge!)
- Dumbbell reverse lunges
- Dumbbell curls
- Dumbbell crunches
3. Swimming pool
Though it’s no guarantee, many hotels have either an indoor or outdoor pool available to guests. If yours does, don’t forget to pack your bathing suit. Swimming laps or treading water can be an excellent full-body cardio workout that is easy on your joints. This can be a great recovery and regeneration activity for fatigued travelers as well.
Have a Do-Anywhere Workout in Mind
When you’re traveling – especially if you don’t know what equipment will be available – you want a workout that is flexible and can be done anywhere you have the space.
For a short and sweet workout, try the following, which can be performed in the gym or your hotel room. Warm up with five minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill (or jogging in place if you’re in your room). Then, for 15 minutes, try to make it through the circuit as many times as you can, resting for 60 to 90 seconds in between circuits. Cool down with five minutes of walking.
- 12 squat jumps
- 12 burpees or 30 seconds of alternating side reaches
- 12 bicycle crunches or toe touches
- 12 step-ups on bench
- 24 skaters
- 24 mountain climbers
To increase the intensity, speed up the movement (without compromising movement quality) or increase the repetitions per set.
Substitute When Necessary
The hotel gym might not have the equipment you need to follow your regular workout plan, but with a little ingenuity you can make appropriate modifications. For example, if you normally bike for 20 minutes but the hotel doesn’t have a bike, swap for 20 minutes of another type of cardio exercise, like running. No barbell? As long as you know which muscle groups are targeted, many of the same exercises can be performed with dumbbells. (If you’re not sure about a specific exercise, though, don’t experiment and risk injury.)
Forego Equipment Entirely
If you find yourself at a hotel that is woefully under-equipped or lacking fitness equipment of any type, you may need to rely on bodyweight exercises. Familiarize yourself with the proper form of movements like squats, push-ups, lunges, planks, and bridges, all of which you can do in your hotel room, if you have the space.
Another option is to pack your own equipment. Personal trainer Sarah Robertson offers this piece of advice: “Packing a few resistance bands in your luggage can provide an option for training if minimal to no equipment is available. Bands are compact, easy to transport, and convenient, and give you the ability to work out in the comfort of your hotel room.”
Last but definitely not least, if you have an all-club membership, check to see if there is a 24 Hour Fitness club near your travel destination. Keep these guidelines in mind and you will always be prepared to train while you travel.