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Photo: Danielle Cerullo

Raise your hand if you love using hotel gyms:

No one, ever.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an oft-flying business sort who spends more days in a Marriott than your own bed or a mother of two enjoying a family vacation. Regardless, hotel gyms are often lacking, which makes fitness on the go stressful at best and nonexistent at worst. Seriously, who wants to cram an entire workout on a cable machine?!

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Fortunately, the fitness pros have heard our pleas. These days, there is a gaggle of training gear available for the frequent flyers among us who don’t want to always go for a run. As someone who spends quite a few nights slumbering in random hotels around the world, I’ve tested all of this gear myself, and I promise: It’ll help you break a sweat regardless of whether you’re in a hotel room, a random parking lot, a quiet lobby in an airport, or even your own basement.


TRX Home2 System

TRX is the granddaddy of on-the-go fitness. At first glance, it looks like a couple of straps with handles. But, once you get the hang of it, you can use your bodyweight to nab a total workout. Plus, all you need is a door to anchor the system and you are good to go. The straps pack up small enough to fit into a suitcase and the weight is negligible; your lunch likely weighs more.


Graphic: Gabe Carey
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Evolved Motion EmPack

I bought this for my husband this past Christmas, and I’ll admit: I gulped when I saw the price. $150 for a backpack? But, it turns out that the EmPack was a great investment for him (and me, since I also use it!). Designed by MTV reality queen Emily Schromm, the pack uses a series of bladders that you fill with water to add weight. Each bladder weighs up to 15 pounds and the pack can hold four bladders. From there, the sky is the limit: squats, deadlifts, push presses, shoulder presses, Turkish getups ... the list goes on. I use the pack itself as my carry-on during flights and the bladders easily stash away in my luggage.


Graphic: Gabe Carey
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Elite Sportz Exercise Sliders

Back in the day when I was a tried-and-true CrossFitter, I tried a barre class thinking the small movement would be easy. Turns out, joke was on me and I was sore for a week! These exercise sliders have the same effect. They slide on all surfaces but you have to engage your muscles to guide the direction. Pro tip: Try simple movements like mountain climbers, pike-ups, or lunges and report back. I bet you’re hurting.

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Graphic: Gabe Carey

3 2 1 Strong Plastic Jump Rope

In the first grade, jumping rope was a fun recess activity to enjoy with your friends. As an adult, it’s a cardio workout originating in the seventh circle of hell. Not only does it engage every muscle in your legs, but I’m willing to be you’ll be panting within three minutes. If you want to kick your session into overdrive, give some double-unders a try (the rope passes beneath your feet twice before you land). That ought to ramp things up a bit!

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Graphic: Gabe Carey

Intey Resistance Bands

These 100% natural latex bands will crank the burn before you know it. This set includes four bands of varying resistance (and a small travel bag) so you can easily create a workout within your abilities. Depending on what you’re after, you can use the band to create either resistance or assistance. For example, if you want to work on your pull-ups, loop a band around the bar and put your foot into the bottom for added support. For resistance, monster walk across the room with a band looped around your ankles. Burn, baby, burn.

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The Original Foam Travel Roller

Graphic: Gabe Carey
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We all know we should foam roll daily, but is anyone actually doing it? Up your rolling game post-workout by packing this travel roller in your suitcase. Its smaller dimensions (4.5-inch diameter) make it easy to stow away, but its hollow core also allows you to stash sundries like socks and underwear inside so there isn’t any wasted space. Added bonus: If airplane seats wreak havoc on your back, this is the cure.


Heather Balogh Rochfort is an outdoor expert and full-time freelance writer and author in the outdoor industry.

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