Fitness-focused vacations have rapidly gained in popularity as devotees to CrossFit, Orange Theory, November Project, and countless other programs look to practice with their friends in a more exotic setting.
The best part is, it’s never been easier to do, thanks to lightweight fitness equipment, workout regimens that don’t require traditional gyms, and incredible vacation venues specializing in nutrition and health.
Many venues are built with the ever popular yoga retreat in mind, but it’s not hard to turn them into dynamic fitness spaces with just a few pieces of lightweight equipment.
With that in mind, here’s 10 workout ideas for the perfect fitness trip:
1. Portable Kettlebells/Sandbags
Forget the days of needing to stay at a high-priced hotel just to have access to weight lifting equipment. Now you can bring your weights with you without adding even a pound to your bag. PKB’s portable kettlebells come in multiple weight classes and can be filled with sand or water. Their PKB portable kit comes with one regular PKG kettlebell (maximum capacity 30 pounds), an insertable water bladder, and a portable scale. If you’re looking for an even lower cost option, head to your local home improvement store (or Amazon) and buy sandbags, where they’re often less than 50 cents each!
2. High Speed Jump Rope
Sometimes the simplest solution to a problem is the best solution, and there’s no better example of this in fitness than the high speed jump rope. Combining cardio with a full body workout, jump rope engages almost every muscle group to deliver an intense workout. Weighing in at less than three ounces, the weight difference for your carry-on is imperceptible. Better yet, high speed jump ropes are easy on the budget, with high quality ropes generally coming in at $10 or less.
3. Resistance Bands
Lightweight and packable, resistance bands are ideal for any trip that involves strength training. Almost no exercise is off limits – chest press, tricep extensions, seated rows, bicep curls, lat pulldowns, squats — you name it, there’s likely a safe, effective way to do it with resistance bands. Resistance bands sets are stackable, meaning you can create almost any amount of resistance.
Considered by many to be the ultimate core workout, it’s no wonder TRX’s lightweight training system has been adopted by personal trainers, major gym chains, and home gyms alike. With TRX, all you need is your bodyweight and gravity to perform hundreds of different exercises. The TRX GO Suspension Trainer is made for the road, weighs in at just over one pound, and can be installed in 60 seconds.
5. Foam Roller
Mimicking many of the benefits of traditional massage, foam rollers are popular tool for self-myofascial release (SMR), a rapidly growing fitness trend thanks to the quick, oftentimes drastic impact it has on athletic performance. Many athletes swear by it, crediting foam rolling with reduced inflammation and scar tissue, as well as improving flexibility and blood circulation. Weighing in at less than a pound, a foot-long foam roller can be packed into a bag with relative ease. If you’re someone who packs small, a more compact option is a lacrosse ball.
6. Bodyweight Exercises
Lightweight equipment makes it easy to provide a fun, unique workout just about anywhere. But for those who want to offer a true minimalist workout experience, the only thing you truly need to workout on vacation is your body. Check out these 50 bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere.
If there’s waves near your retreat destination, you can be sure there are a slew of surf shops ready to give lessons, rent out surfboards, and organize excursions to the best surf breaks in town. Surfing provides an incredible full body workout – shoulders, back, and core – and is a great change of pace for anyone used to working out in a studio.
Standup paddleboarding has quickly become one of the hottest vacation activities available in beach towns across the world, offering a fun and unique way to explore the surrounding area. But SUPing also has major health benefits, bringing together balance, endurance training, and core fitness for a total body workout. Many places even offer SUP yoga, a fun and challenging twist on traditional yoga practice.
Fitness retreats might be the fastest growing segment in the retreat industry, but yoga retreats are the current market leader. Chances are, the retreat venue you’re staying at will come equipped with a dedicated yoga space and mats, with many also offering blocks, straps, and blankets. Plus, many venues offer daily yoga instruction if you’re not an instructor yourself.
10. Hiking/Trail Running
Whether you’re staying deep in the jungle or ten feet from the beach, chances are there are hiking trails in your area. Hiking, and even more so trail running, provide an epic cardio and lower body workout. Not to mention it’s a great way to explore nature, and the mind-body benefits are immense.