Hotel Workouts Formulas

Working out on the road or in small spaces

Dec 17, 2021
This past week I was reminded how effective a small gym space with limited equipment can be. 
From Sunday to Wednesday, I only had access to a hotel gym. There were no squat racks or barbells. And yet, every day, I got in a great workout which set the tone for a great day.
This made me think of two scenarios we can find ourselves in: no access to a gym or disruptions (i.e work travel) that get in the way of our best laid plans for ourselves. 
However, neither of these situations should hold us back! A great workout can be had with very limited equipment, space, and time. 
These are some of the formats I follow when concocting a hotel workout. 

The Classic

  • Part A: Cardio for 20-30 minutes
  • Part B: Choose a focus body part or two to and pick five to 10 exercises, usually in supersets. 
If the hotel gym is crowded, I might choose less exercises but do more sets (5 - 7) of each one so that I can grab a pair of dumbbells and set myself up in a corner without having to drag stuff around too much. 
For example, I’m still feeling this workout three days later! 
  • Run 2 miles
  • Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squats: 5 x 8 reps per side
  • Dumbbell Bench Press in Bridge: 5 x 8-10 reps
  • Goblet Squat: 3 x 10 reps
  • Pushups: 3 x 10 reps
  • Crunches: 3 x 30 reps
  • Russian Twists: 3 x 30 reps
I saved more recent examples of these to my Instagram Story highlights. 

The Chipper

Choose five to eight movements and do 100 reps of each. Here's a favorite example from earlier this year. Only one piece of equipment was needed. This is an awesome format when you don’t have much space or the gym is crowded or you are in a field.

The Timed Session

On this trip, I managed to get in full hour sessions every day which was a true gift. However, sometimes you’ve got less time or maybe you don’t want to spend a full hour.
In these cases, I time box everything. 
Pick a few movements, three to six is usually good, pick a rep scheme that feels right, set a timer for the time you have and go. I wrote about designing short workouts earlier this year. 

Gyms for small spaces

What works in a hotel gym is very similar to a small home gym. 
If a full home gym is not in the cards, you can absolutely get by with very limited equipment. 
I won’t tell the story of how I made due with one 26 pound dumbbell for four months in 2020. Or maybe I just did. 
The point is limited equipment doesn’t mean a less intense or effective workout. 
My legs are still sore from dumbbell only work this week. 
If I was building a home gym from scratch in a small apartment, I would invest in dumbbells or kettlebells. The adjustable options (Bowflex, Power Blocks, RepFitness) are solid.
If you prefer single weights, you’ll need a little more room, but it hardly takes up more space than a credenza. 
I’d also make sure I have access to some form of cardio: running outside, a Concept 2 rower, a bike. 
After that, you start getting into nice to haves: 
  • A bench or box would be great but you can hack it with a chair or a couch
  • A pull-up bar in the doorway, but there are lat (back) exercise you can do without pull-ups
  • Bands of all sizes are super versatile, inexpensive, and hardly take up space  
From there, you can use the formats shared above to craft effective sessions in a 10 x 10 foot spot. 
I wasn’t always obsessed with fitting fitness into my life. But now that I am, I can’t imagine going without it. And it’s shockingly easy, per the above, to fit it in, no matter the constraints we face. 
🙏 Thank you for reading! 
❓If you have a question you think I might be able to help answer, please reply to this email and thank you to those who have given me inspiration already! 
👩‍⚕️ You should consult a medical professional before starting an exercise routine.