I’ve realized that in order to feel like myself, I really need to work out at least 4-5 days a week: cardio, strength training, and yoga. I was completely dependent on the gym for a long time, and I couldn’t imagine what I would do without spin classes, treadmills, and tons of fancy equipment. But when I was getting ready to hit the road last year, a very wise fitness friend (who is also a personal trainer) reminded me, “Long before there were gyms, there were fit people.”
And it’s the truth. There’s plenty I can do with no gear whatsoever: Run. Walk. Swim. Recreate high school tennis practice, doing burpees and pushups and lunges and triceps dips until I pass out. Practice yoga. This stuff can get boring, though, so to mix it up, on this trip, I’ve brought a few things with me. This is my nomad gym:
Here’s my “top 10” list of workout items and resources for nomads:
10. Jump rope: I still remember this drop of wisdom from Mr. Bellamy, my elementary school gym teacher: “You think jumping rope is for sissies? Tell that to a boxer! Boxers always jump rope, and they’ll knock your block off!” (Hey, it was the 80’s.) I got my jump rope at Target for less than $10. One of my go-to workouts is 1 minute of jumping rope, 1 minute of strength work, repeat. NOTE: I’ve learned from experience that jumping rope is hard when space is limited. (Broken lamps galore.)
9. Folding yoga mat: Yoga mats can be super awkward to pack, especially in a small backpack. I was so happy to find the Khataland YoFoMat, which folds up to the size of a large book. Some people like YogaPaws, which you can wear on your hands and feet for a no-slip experience, but I’ve never used them.
8. Barry’s Bootcamp mp3s: I’m obsessed with Barry’s Bootcamp and do it a few times a week when I’m in New York. It’s a group exercise class that combines treadmill running with strength training for a killer workout. The instructors are the best part, but Barry’s has smartly come up with 5 mp3 workouts that can be done anywhere you have a treadmill and a few sets of weights. This is my go-to if I’m ever in a hotel with a gym.
7. Seconds: I love this app. You can set it up for circuit, HITT, or tabata training and not have to keep an eye on your watch. (There’s a free and a paid version.)
6. TRX: This is my big space and weight suck, but it’s totally worth it to me. This contraption was invented by a navy SEAL who needed to work out onboard his ship. Right now I have it clamped on to my balcony railing, so I get to work out with this view:
It’s easy to put it over the top of a door as well (just make sure no one opens the door!) You can work every muscle group with it (there are about a million YouTube videos with workouts), and it folds up into a little bag and weighs about 2 pounds.
5. Resistance bands: Mine are from Target and were about $15 for a set of 3. I recommend ones with handles, as they’re more comfortable; it’s also not a bad idea to bring more than one (different resistance levels) if you can afford the space.
4. 100 pushup challenge: Sometimes it’s nice to have a plan to follow.
3. YogaGlo: A great resource with yoga videos of all different lengths and levels. Some of my favorite teachers IRL have videos on here; check out Elena Brower, Noah Maze, Amy Ippoliti, and Sianna Sherman.
2. This list of yoga centers worldwide helped me find awesome studios in Buenos Aires and Bangkok.
1. Beachbody DVDs: If I could only pick one workout tool to travel with, these might win. They are no-joke workouts that can be done in the tiniest spaces: I did them next to my bed in a Bangkok guest house for a few days and lived to tell the tale. Insanity is my favorite– 9 killer cardio workouts (so it takes a while to get sick of them that need no equipment other than a way to play them. P90X is also good if you’re willing to adapt the on-screen weight workouts with resistance bands (or gallon jugs of water).
I’d love to hear from you! What else do you use to work out on the road?