Maintaining Fitness while Traveling (or in a Home Gym)

First let me state this post has been a long time in the making!!  Forever ago a reader asked me about my fitness regimen and another asked how I maintain my fitness while traveling.

It was prompted by this picture from Instagram Stories where I was so excited to finally see a little bicep.  My hard work was starting to pay off! What hard work you ask?  Let’s start by going back six months.

My Fitness Journey

I’ve been an athlete for awhile but kids and work had slowed me down.  In October, I set a goal to get stronger (physically and mentally) and I spent the month really focused on me.  I completed a six week challenge that ended with a half-marathon PR.  (#GoMe) The challenge consisted of four workouts a week, a focus on an unprocessed diet and lots and lots of running.  I finished the challenge stronger (and faster) but I wanted more! In the new year I continued the four workouts a week (and some running) but I decided to up the intensity.  I made it a goal to pick up heavier weights and really focus on getting stronger.  It didn’t’ take long to see results.  I was also still running a couple of days a week and I ran another half marathon in March – albeit a little slower with less training.

In March, my work travel started to increase again and it was getting harder and harder to stick to my plan and make four classes a week.

And now you are about to understand why this post took so long to write…

Fitness While Traveling

I needed to be able to take my gym on the road!  (It also wouldn’t have been fair to tell everyone not located in Northern Virginia how awesome my gym was knowing full well you couldn’t go there.)  This began a long search for the ideal fitness app. My fitness app trial by fire (or maybe it was my abs that were on fire some days) lasted about two months. I tried various fitness apps with a goal of finding one comparable to my gym and the results I was getting.  #LoftyGoal

Fitness App Winners

Let me first start by explaining my criteria.  My most important criteria was that the moves were safe and followed proper form (my husband is a coach ….).  I then looked at format, variety and ease of use for each of the apps.  The apps needed to allow you to select a workout on demand or follow a program.  The programs needed the flexibility to rearrange days.  I ultimately selected one free winner and one paid winner.

Nike Training Club (NTC)

This one was not new to me … I’ve been using this app for at least four year and I love it.

Pros – It’s free.  Its 100% portable.  It’s instructional (with form being the number one focus which is KEY).  It provides a warm up and cool down for each workout.  It is 100% customizable.  You can use weights or not use weights.  You can follow a program or choose workouts on-demand.

Cons – This is probably only specific to me but I know many of the workouts by heart.  I have also become used to my gym format which was hard to recreate with workouts from the app.   Max Strength Monday is forty-five minutes of upper body workout and P90X Live on Saturday is 60 minutes of full body.  Using the NTC to get a 45 minute upper body focused workout would have meant combining two workouts and I would have to combine FOUR different workouts to recreate P90X Live.  While this is not impossible it would have included multiple warm ups and cool downs (or a long break because you can’t fast forward).

Who Should Use It – I recommend this app for beginners, someone looking for a quick workout, or someone who wants to follow a program.

Beachbody on Demand

I found this app because of my love for my Saturday morning P90X Live classes.  I may have temporarily given up my gym but I wasn’t ready to give up this class!  This app was the only place I have found them in a portable format.

Pros – All total there is more than 100 P90 Style workouts.  This App is so much more than the P90 series though.   It includes so many other programs:  21 day fix, Core de Force, T25, PiYo, 80 day obsession, Brazil Butt Lift (my husband wants me to try this one), Insanity … the list is long!   The other bonus is I can also watch this through the Roku on our TV (so I can use it when I am at home with a larger screen).

Cons – There is currently only four “Rounds” of the P90X live classes but you can create more by combining two (a cardio core and a strength) programs. The app is based on programs so mixing and matching programs to create a specific fitness regime for the week can be hit or miss. The app is sometimes slow but workouts can be downloaded in advance.

Who Should Use it –  I would recommend this for anyone who wants to follow a program (so many good ones to choose from) or who really likes to mix thanks up with yoga one day and mixed martial arts the next.

Fitness Equipment for Travel

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If you are going to attempt any sustianed fitness regime (especially while traveling) you will need a few key pieces of equipment.  Many of the workouts in the apps require no equipment but you will need room to move!  I always make sure the hotel I stay in has a gym. Some chains are even providing fitness specific rooms (Hilton has this option).

I always travel with resistance bands (they take up no room so I have a pair that lives in my suitcase) and sometimes a foam roller or ball.  The other must have is a good pair of headphones so you can hear the workout while in a noisy hotel gym or park.  I’ve tried wired and wireless and have all varieties (and usually travel with multiple pairs) but the ones I currently reach for most are these. #CrystalClear #NoWires #CanStillHear

Fitness Equipment in our Home Gym

Beginner

As a beginner, all you really need is a few sets of dumbbells and maybe some resistance bands.  I would also add a white board to track sets and weights and a full length mirror to check form.

For dumbbells, I had a 3 lb, 5 lb and 8 lb as my initial set.  Little man now uses the 3 lb weights when he wants to join me in the fun. I still use the 5 and 8 as my lighter weights but I have graduated to an adjustable dumbbell set for my heavier weights. I have the ones I linked but if I could go back I would probably get these.  You can also just pick individual weights.  I added everything to an Amazon Wish List to see everything in one place.

1 Medicine Ball | 2 Pull Up Bar | 3 Weighted Bar | 4 Adjustable Dumbbells | 5 Headphones | 6 Kettlebell | 7 Trigger Ball | 8 Assistance Bands | 9 Dumbbell Set | 10 Travel Foam Roller | 11 Resistance Bands | 12 Foam Roller | 13 TRX Kit

Advanced

As your fitness progresses you may want to add other equipment for variety or challenge.  This following is a list of other equipment that is in our home gym (in the order it was added).  I will caveat that my husband is a triathlon coach and has always done his workouts mostly at home so we are probably a little more stocked than the average house.    

  • Foam Roller – This is a must for working out sore muscles
  • Step – This is great for mixing up the lower body workout.  It is useful to have at least two different height options.
  • Medicine Balls – Great for combining moves to really work your core (slams and tosses, Russian twists, wood choppers, etc.).  Dumbbells work for some of these moves but could be dangerous for slams.  
  • TRX – My husband got this for Christmas a few years ago and I originally ignored it until I became obsessed with being able to do a pull-up.  #GameChanger
  • Pull-up Bar – Once you can do a pull-up this really ups your game.  I have an assistance band for ours because I cannot yet do ONE pull-up. This is another one that is really more my husbands than mine but I’m trying. #goals  You can also get ones that fit in a door frame for far less.
  • Weighted Bar – This joined my collection last Christmas. I like using it to mix up some of the weighted exercises.  (Dumbbells work instead though).
  • Kettle Bells – This is on my list to add.  I used them all the time at the gym but because you can use dumbbells for mostly everything you use kettlebells for it is low priority.

I added everything to an Amazon Wish List to see everything in one place.

Fitness Workout Wear

Just Live Leggings | Nike Tank | UA Underwear | Nike Pro Bra | Nike Free Shoes

Who would I be if I didn’t talk about what I wear?  For most of my workouts I wear a Nike Classic BraNike Tank and either tights or capris.  I stay away from shorts because of the floor based moves (I like my knees).  The Just Live brand is my favorite but Girlfriend Collective would be a close second.  Under my tights I wear UA and on my feet are Nike Free shoes.  I’m not a sock person but if you want socks the best no show sock is from Nike.

Now you know what I’m doing four mornings a week … a little Beachbody. I have another post coming soon that will be more running focused.  I am getting ready to gear back up and train for a half-marathon and I’m hoping for another PR.  #SubTwoGoals

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