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4 Ways to Take the Gym With You on the Road

If you travel a lot it can feel like it’s hard to keep up a regular exercise routine. Here are some of our favorite ways to make it easier.

Gyms like to push the idea that you need a lot of equipment to get fit. No three-way trap-tree? You’ll never be fit. The truth is you don’t actually need a lot.

Now, if you want to get really big and strong, you’ll need to lift big heavy weights. That’s not going to be possible on the road unless you’re going to hit up local gyms. Even my fairly meh powerlifting numbers are between four and six times the maximum hold back weight limit on a plane, so no packing barbells to get those kind of gains, either.

On the other hand, if you’re just looking to keep fit, and make sure you don’t backslide when you’re on the road, there’s a lot you can do.

A Lacrosse Ball or (If You Have Space) a Foam Roller ($7-35)

Recovery is an important part of any fitness program. You can’t go hell for leather week in, week out. If you’re only going on holiday for a week or two, then try and get your recovery time and vacation time to align.

Recovery time, however, doesn’t mean sit in a hammock and drink piña coladas all day. That’s not recovery for your muscles (or your poor battered liver, either). Recovery means active recovery: think, long walks, a gentle jog, some bodyweight exercises, and lots and lots of stretching.

You probably remember lots of the stretches from your high school gym days, but if you want to really get into the muscles and pain points, then a foam roller is the way to go.

We really like the 13” TriggerPoint GRID foam roller ($34.99). It comes with free online instructional videos to get you started but, more importantly, it’s a great foam roller. The bumpy surface is perfect for getting deep into your muscles and really working things loose. Conveniently, while the GRID is still quite large, since it’s hollow, it doesn’t take up a huge amount of packing space in your bag. you can fill it with clothes and you’re only losing a small amount of volume.

If you’re really space constrained or just traveling with hand luggage, then there is another option: the humble lacrosse ball ($7). Small and firm, a lacrosse ball fits in any bag and can really work out muscle knots.

Good Trainers ($134)

If you need to do more than just recover, a good pair of trainers might be all you need simply because they give you lots of options. You can hit up the hotel gym (or another nearby gym) and do your regular workout, go for a run, get some interval training in, or do some bodyweight exercises in your room or, better yet, a local park. See, options!

We’ve got a deep dive into the best running shoes if you need some recommendations. Our favorite trainers were the Nike Epic React ($134) but anything that fits well and supports your feet will do.

Unfortunately, trainers won’t get you very far without a bit of knowledge. Anyone can take off for a jog but if you want to do more, you should put together a real plan. To build your knowledge, we really like Freeletics. It’s packed with great bodyweight only programs.

Resistance Bands

Bodyweight exercises are great but they’re limited because you can really only work with gravity as your resistance. This means that some things, like squats, are pretty easy, while others, like pull-ups, are pretty hard.

One way to add another source of resistance to your training is with resistance bands. These strong elastic bands come in a variety of strengths and exponentially increase the number of exercises you can do, and muscles you can target. For more on using them, check out Freeletics.

We like this set of four different strength bands from Intey ($32.95). They have everything you need to get started.

Monkii Bars 2 ($195)

If you’re serious about bringing a full gym in your bag, then you need to check out the Monkii Bars 2 ($195).

If you’ve spent any time in a gym, you’re probably familiar with what the Monkii Bars do. They’re portable gym rings (or TRX straps). You can do hundreds of different exercises with them but, the best thing is, they let you scale the difficulty of exercises. For example, you can make press ups harder by doing feet elevated press ups and pull ups (or a pull up like exercise) easier by doing inverted rows instead. The included instructional app will walk you through everything.

The Monkii Bars 2 Adventure Kit ($195) comes with everything you need to get started. The case turns into a door attachment so you can really work out anywhere.

If you travel a lot, there’s no real reason you can’t keep on top of some kind of workout program. You’ll have to make some sacrifices but the right gear can go a long way.

Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like the New York Times and on a variety of other websites, including Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »