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Exercise Tips For Travelers

Author: Stan Reents, PharmD
Original Posting: 05/06/2007 09:14 AM
Last Revision: 01/15/2016 08:05 AM

Do you travel frequently? And, are you frustrated by how all this travel affects your exercise routine?

If so, then here are some suggestions:

First, pick up the book Fitness For Travelers - The Ultimate Workout Guide For The Road by Suzanne Schlosberg, in cooperation with the American Council on Exercise ( Schlosberg is a health and fitness writer and a frequent contributor to SHAPE magazine. But her most impressive credential (in my opinion) is that she has cycled across the country....twice!

I really like this book. It's comprehensive enough (191 pages) to cover lots of material, yet small enough to fit into a briefcase or purse. Schlosberg offers practical suggestions to typical obstacles such as:

• Not enough time to exercise: Possible solutions include exercising first thing in the morning, doing your work-related reading while riding an exercise bike, and, simply not cramming so much work into each day. Plan your day so that there is time for exercise.

• Jet lag: Jet lag can really make you feel lethargic. Here, the strategy is to plan your flights so that you arrive in your destination city in the early evening, if at all possible. Other strategies that help, according to Schlosberg, are to drink enough water, and to not start your trip sleep-deprived.


According to Schlosberg, approximately 56% of US hotels now have fitness facilities; 79% for hotels with 250 or more rooms (Editorial note:  These stats were from 2002).

In 2006, Athletic-Minded Traveler released a list of the top hotel-based fitness centers.  They visited more than 3000 hotels and conducted anonymous tours.  Selection criteria included fitness size, equipment, work-out options (eg., lap pool, sport court, etc.), and atmosphere.  Their Top 10 selections are listed below:

  1. Houstonian (Houston)
  2. Park Hyatt at Bellevue (Philadelphia)
  3. Four Seasons (San Francisco)
  4. Embassy Suites Lakefront (Chicago)
  5. Venetian (Las Vegas)
  6. Bellevue Club (Bellevue, WA)
  7. Inn at Ponte Vedra (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)
  8. Grand Hotel (Minneapolis)
  9. JW Marriott (Orlando)
  10. Ritz Carlton Boston Common (Boston)


What do you do if your hotel doesn't have a fitness room? This should never be an excuse for not exercising. Here are some suggestions:

Exercising In The Hotel

Use the pool: If the hotel has a pool, you can do laps....assuming it is big enough. Or, consider using the pool for aquatic exercises. For example, running in chest-deep water is a tremendous work-out. You can also do Tai-Chi, or more vigorous martial arts moves in a pool.

In Your Hotel Room:

• Bring some exercise gear with you (see below), such as a jump rope, springs, or exercise bands. Even without exercise gear, you can always do push-ups, crunches, squats, and flexibility and stretching exercises in your room.

• Do you have a back-pack? You can stuff bottles of water or heavy books inside it to increase the load when you do squats, lunges, or push-ups.

• For weights, ask the kitchen for some empty plastic jugs. You can fill them with water. One liter of water weighs 2.2 lbs. One gallon of water weighs 8.3 lbs. If it's a gallon jug with a handle, you can use this as a dumbell. If you have several, you can loop your belt through the handles to increase the weight. For smaller bottles, stuff several of them into a plastic bag with handles to create enough weight.

• For dips and push-ups, you could use the seats of 2 chairs, or even the edge of the bed for this, too.

• Ask the hotel concierge if they can provide a personal trainer. The trainer can bring some work-out gear and/or give you a personal session.

Exercising Outside of Your Hotel

Find a local gym: If you find yourself in a hotel with no facilities, then find a local gym. According to a marketing study by The Active Network, there were 29,096 health clubs in the US in 2006. Many health clubs now allow individual visits from non-members for a small fee. Several outstanding web sites for finding health clubs are listed at the end of this review.

Find a local track: If you like running on a track, see if there is a high school or college campus near by.

Walk! You can always walk. You can walk outside. In your hotel, you can walk the stairs. In the airport, walk up and down your concourse until your flight begins boarding.


Bringing some fitness gear with you may help motivate you when you may not feel like exercising. Schlosberg lists some gear that any traveler can bring with them:

  • quick-dry clothing, and your running shoes, or other shoes you workout in
  • a small gym bag for sweaty clothes
  • fitness bands
  • a pedometer
  • a portable music device like an iPod
  • a lock

Lebert Fitness markets a really cool product that enables you to do a wide variety of resistance exercises: it's called the "Lebert Buddy System." Even though it is designed to be used by 2 people, it's possible that you could anchor it to a doorknob and use it to perform exercises that can't be achieved with simple resistance bands. (If you use it alone, just make sure it doesn't slip off the doorknob or anchor point!) This simple nylon band with handles allows you to perform dozens of exercises. And, it's small enough to throw in your luggage. To see a 9-minute video on this, go to:


In summary, there's absolutely no excuse for not exercising while on the road. All you need is some imagination and a little planning. Just remember to not pack your daily schedule so full that you have to cheat yourself on sleep to find the time to exercise.


Web Sites for Finding Hotels With Gyms

As a follow-up to their best-selling book The Athletic-Minded Traveler, Jim Kaese and Paul Huddle launched On this web site, you can find fitness-oriented hotels, health clubs, running routes, etc., in various US cities.

Web Sites for Finding Airports With Gyms is a unique web site. It was launched in 2002. It is a free web site and survives on donations. It lists not only gyms inside airports, but, also, gyms near airports like Bally's, Gold's, LA Fitness, and 24-Hour Fitness, and smaller gyms, too. As of January 2014, their database includes 187 gyms in the US and 11 gyms in Canada. Only airports in the US and Canada were included in the database.

Web Sites for Finding Gyms

Several web sites have search tools that help you find a health club:

• The best web site I have found for searching gyms is By entering a zip code, you can obtain a list of facilities within 30 miles of the center point for that zip code. Their database contains over 20,000 facilities, the largest and most accurate database of fitness centers in the US.

24-Hr Fitness has more than 400 locations in 18 states. Their web site has a search tool. You can enter your zip code and find clubs nearby. is a web site maintained by IHRSA. This web site has a club-finder feature, though it only lists clubs that participate in the IHRSA Passport Program. You must be a member of this program. is the web site for the YMCA.

• The American Council on Exercise has a gym finder tool on their web site (, however, it didn't work reliably when we tried it (January 22, 2014)......

Web Sites for Finding Swimming Pools

• If you want to find a place to swim, even if it's in a hotel or public park, then check out This site has a mind-boggling database of 17,000 swimming pools around the world. This site first went online in 1996. The database was initially published in book format in 1993 and 1995.

Books for Travelers

• Schlosberg's Fitness For Travelers - The Ultimate Workout Guide For The Road provides exercise routines for aquatic exercise, climbing the hotel stairs, and even rope jumping. It contains dozens of photos showing various exercises. It was published in 2002 by Houghton Mifflin (

Eating On The Run by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, packs a ton of information on hotels and fast-food franchises into 216 pages.

Get With The Program Guide To Fast Food & Family Restaurants is written by Bob Greene, an exercise physiologist and Oprah Winfrey's personal trainer. This book contains detailed information on fast food franchises in the US and is small enough to keep in your briefcase or purse.

These and other books are reviewed in our Book Reviews section.

Readers may also be interested in these reviews:


Stan Reents, PharmD, is available to speak on this and many other exercise-related topics. (Here is a downloadable recording of one of his Health Talks.) He also provides a one-on-one Health Coaching Service. Contact him through the Contact Us page.


Stan Reents, PharmD, is a former healthcare professional. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and holds current certifications from ACSM (Health & Fitness Specialist), ACE (Health Coach) and has been certified as a tennis coach by USTA. He is the author of Sport and Exercise Pharmacology (published by Human Kinetics) and has written for Runner's World magazine, Training and Conditioning, Club Solutions, and other fitness publications.

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