When you spend a lot of time on the road, finding a good space to maintain your fitness levels can be… challenging. In fact, it’s not uncommon for smaller hotels to simply throw a couple of stability balls, an exercise bike, and hand-me-down treadmill into a spare room and call it a “fitness center”. And if you’re staying in an AirBnB or villa, there may not even be that much. On top of all this, when you’re traveling you often want to keep it light – if you’re flying, you certainly don’t want to be weighed down with sandbags, and if you’re driving you don’t want precious space in the Thule eaten up by 150lbs of kettlebells.
So how do you stay fit while traveling?
Fear not, though, as there are plenty of things you can do simply with body weight – and they can prove to be quite challenging both from a muscular endurance standpoint and a “metabolic” standpoint. The only problem with most of these “home/travel” workouts built on bodyweight and minimal equipment is that they lack any sort of pulling movement. Endless push-up variations are often both challenging for people to complete properly, and furthermore simply as a matter of balance, you don’t want the entire upper body workout to be focused on nothing but pushing.
We’ve got your back!
Option 1: TRX Suspension Trainer
Fortunately, there are solutions. The first one – and the one I recommend – is to make a one-time investment in a portable suspension trainer. Although they are not necessarily cheap, you shouldn’t need to spend the money more than once and the returns will continue to pay back over the years. The original, of course, is the TRX Suspension trainer (listed at $159.99US on its home page). The TRX is a great piece of equipment, with years of development and refinement – you honestly can’t go wrong with it. If I had any complaints with the TRX, it’s that it’s not actually the easiest to pack and carry. It will fold up in its mesh bag, yes, but it’s still fairly bulky and – speaking from experience – the numerous buckles and unconventional shape can definitely raise some eyebrows if you put it through your checked luggage.
Option 2: Monkii Bars “Adventure Kit”
A more recent entrant into the suspension trainer market is the Monkii Bars “Adventure Kit”, which come at a higher price point – $195.00US (and you also need to factor in shipping and handling, since they are not in retail outlets). However, while they offer all of the same benefits and functionality of the TRX, they are infinitely more compact and portable, easily fitting into your carry-on luggage or into your car’s glove box or in your backpack if you want to take them on a trail run. Plus, unlike the TRX’s one-year limited warranty, the Monkii Bars’ is virtually unlimited (as long as you aren’t using them to tow cars or something similar) and last as long as you own them.
Option 3: Travel Hack Towel Row
If you’d rather not spend the money, then there’s a third option. It is much more limited in terms of options, BUT it’s free (you get what you pay for, right?). This option would be to use a towel or a piece of rope, and simply wrap it around a solid anchor (a tree, or a post that’s the foundational support for the townhouse) – then perform your rows that way. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, you can click here to see a video demonstration.
I DO have to stress the importance of making sure that it’s a SOLID anchor if you’re going to try the towel hack; I’ve seen this attempted by wrapping the towel around a doorknob and I’ve also seen said doorknob get torn out of the door (no, this one was not me). You may also simply go to M.E.C. and some climbing rope and carabiners… but I would suggest if you’re ready to make this much of an investment you’d be better off purchasing a product that’s been tested and built specifically for this purpose in the first place.
Best of luck – and as always, please share if you think someone will benefit from it, and feel free to ask a question if something’s unclear!