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Hotel Workouts You’ll Actually Do

The busy travel season is upon us. Whether you’re heading out to get a view of the fantastic fall colors, one of the millions of Americans visiting family for Thanksgiving or jumping on a plane for work, destinations call. But so, still, does your fitness routine.

Oftentimes, however, hotel gyms don’t live up to expectations. So how do travelers maintain their routines and get in a decent workout session with mediocre options?

If you find yourself in Pittsburgh, Etage Athletic Club gladly welcomes you for a session or two during your stay! We love seeing new faces on our gym floor and are happy to help travelers tend to their fitness needs while away from home.

But what if facilities in the city you’re visiting don’t open their doors to drop-ins? We’ve rounded up some advice for those who only have access to rudimentary hotel gyms – or maybe even no gear at all.

Before getting started, sneak a peek at your hotel gym to see what equipment you’ve got at your disposal. Typically these facilities are equipped at minimum with a set of dumbbells, a treadmill, and maybe a stationary bike or stairclimber. If that’s the case, get ready for a great workout employing this gear as it’s intended … and maybe a little differently too!


Whether you’ve got limited time to or just can’t stand the confines of a small space for very long, get the biggest bang for your buck while traveling with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Spend 30 minutes or less alternating between short spans – think 30 seconds to three minutes – of vigorous exercise and recovery periods of equal or less time. Sprint on a treadmill, peddle as hard as you can on a bike or elliptical, or climb to the top of the Chrysler Building on a stairclimber. Rest and repeat. Or move through all three activities if you’ve got that many resources at your disposal.

When done correctly, HIIT burns more calories and raises the heart rate higher than achievable through the more conventional use of cardio equipment. This method of exercise also can also lead to better blood vessel function and other health benefits.

Creativity Is Key

When faced with limited options, gym-goers shouldn’t hesitate to think outside of the box in search of solutions. While power walking or jogging on the treadmill, for example, consider breaking for a modified pull-up. Simply use the machine’s arms to support your body weight as you lift and lower with knees bent. An easy substitution for those who rely on pull-up bars frequently!

You could also try using dumbbells in place of an ab wheel by loosely gripping equally sized ones in each hand and rolling them forward and backward while lengthening and contracting your body.

Don’t hesitate to get creative, but always remember to stay safe to avoid muscle strain or injury when doing so.

No Equipment, No Problem

Itching to get moving after sitting on a plane or in a car? Break a sweat without any equipment by rotating through a variety of movements that target the full body like:

  • Push-ups

  • Squats

  • Lunges

  • Planks

  • Burpees

Here’s a great workout you can do in a small gym – or even from the comfort of your hotel room – in just 20 minutes. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced, modify the intensity simply by adding time to your repetitions and shortening the window devoted to rest.

Other Strategies To Stay in Shape

Travel with resistance bands. They take up little to no room in a suitcase but have many applications and can be used practically anywhere. If you’re new to resistance bands, check out these great starting points that target various areas of the body - chest, legs and abs included.

Go extra hard before you travel. With a focus on the legs and back, push yourself a little harder in those final workouts before taking a trip. Unlike arms, abs and shoulders, the leg and back muscles are often tougher to address during travel due to limited resources. So target these spots with greater intensity in the days leading up to your departure. Save the easier stuff for the road.

Cut yourself some slack. The occasional break from routine isn’t going to sabotage all your effort at the gym. If you can’t find time for exercise while away, add an extra walk to your day (maybe to lunch or the office?) or take the stairs instead of the elevator to access your hotel floor. And embrace the opportunity to mix things up a bit. You’ll get back to those tried and true fitness habits upon return!



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