It’s so easy to use travel as an excuse not to work out. You’re away from your gym, your schedule is all screwy, you don’t have room in your carry on for your sneakers… blah, blah, blah. The world is your gym people. Workouts can happen anytime, anywhere. All you need is you (and maybe a few of the items below). Now, get OUT there!
These are our top ten pieces of ultra portable fitness gear to ensure you have everything you need to maintain your routine when you’re on the road. Oh and P.S. just wear the sneakers on the plane.
No, not the things you use to stem rising flood waters. These bags can be filled with sand or water to weigh up to 150 lbs. and are made of heavy duty material with easily grippable handles. Not only will you get to lift heavy no matter where you are, but the inherent instability and dynamic nature of the fillers will require you to engage your core and muscles not typically utilized when lifting more static weights.
2. Jump Rope
An old standby to be sure, but there’s a reason a jump rope has been used to get the heart rate pumping for generations. Found in boxers’ gym bags around the world, this simple tool will help teach you to stay light on your feet. There are a near infinite number of jump styles you can explore to keep things interesting — from double jumps and side-to-side to single leg jumps and cross overs.
3. TRX Suspension Systems
The famed TRX system was developed by a Navy SEAL with total body strength and portability in mind. With multiple anchoring options, the TRX system can be installed virtually anywhere. Suspension training leverages gravity and your own bodyweight and provides the versatility to perform hundreds of different exercises giving a complete workout with minimal equipment necessary.
4. Aqua Medicine Ball
Also know as a hydroball or slosh ball, it’s essentially a medicine ball that can be filled with water to achieve the desired weight up to 115 lbs. Great for partner work, core exercises or really anything you would do with a typical medicine ball or stone. Unlike any other ball you’ve used, the added challenge of its dynamic filler will require concentration and perfect form as the water sloshes around. Stuff it in your carry on and fill ‘er up when you arrive.
5. Yoga Mat
You can roll this baby out practically anywhere — be it in your hotel room, a cliffside vista or on a tranquil beach. Lightweight enough to stuff into any duffle, you’ll be able to squeeze in a savasana no matter where your travels take you. Maintain your practice and continue to challenge yourself, even with the interruption travel can bring. There are even travel versions that fold instead of rolling so, no excuses for even the most minimalist packers.
6. Sliding Disks
You know those late-night infomercials, the ones with the plastic furniture movers? Yeah, those things are pure gold when you’re looking to up the ante of a workout when you’re on the go. With a range of potential exercises to allow for a full body workout, curtsy lunges, ab glide outs, planks and mountain climbers take on a whole new dynamic when paired with these slippery suckers. The ones made specifically for exercise have a padded side to cushion your hands and joints during exercise and slip into any suitcase.
7. Resistance Bands
Because they can fit into any carry-on, come in a variety of sizes, lengths and strengths you can fit in a full body workout just about anywhere. Rows and standing chest presses are staples for upper body exercises while adding the bands to squats and sit-ups can rack up the challenge level. There are a few styles of bands, but we like the ones with handles for their sheer versatility. A band also has the added advantage of continuous tension, allowing greater isolation of target muscles.
8. Portable Kettlebells
A mainstay in any gym these days, you can’t exactly toss a cast iron kettlebell in to your overhead bag and expect TSA not to bat an eye. Made of super durable ballistic nylon, they can be filled from 0 to 45 lbs. and everything in between for ultimate versatility. Just like a traditional kettlebell, you can perform cleans, jerks, shoulder presses, swings etc. However, the unstable load of the shifting sand inside the bell, will require far more muscle stability. Go ahead and try a Turkish Get-Up and feel the difference.
9. Travel Hula Hoop
Now hear us out. While a hula hoop may seem like a schoolyard plaything, we can’t think of a more fun or engaging way to activate your core muscles. Try adding music, steps and arm exercises for variety. There are several travel systems out there, some collapse the hoop into multiple pieces or are made of a flexible foldable material, allowing you to stuff it into your roll-aboard for easy transport. There are even weighted varieties to increase the cardio and core challenge.
10. Chin Up Handles
These two independent handles can be positioned on any closed door anywhere. Beyond pull-ups and chin-ups, give these a try with hanging knee lifts or leg raises to up your ab game. Because the door must be closed during use, there’s no “cheating” — you cannot swing your body and use that momentum to achieve the lift. At less than a pound, tossing these in your bag before you head to the airport is an easy way to ensure you have everything you need to maintain your gain while you’re on the go.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many pieces of portable training equipment these days, the only limitation is your imagination and your willingness to work out — even when you’re on the go.