How to Get More out of the Hotel Gym

You just checked in and you’re itching for a workout, but the hotel gym doesn’t have your go-to equipment. Three Canadian trainers share five reasons why that might just be the recipe for your best training session of the week.

1. Play outside your comfort zone

“I see any unfamiliar gym as a playground,” says Calgary trainer Nathan Bodewitz, a proponent of obstacle-course training. Think back to all the different possibilities that a jungle gym represented to you as a kid. “There’s so much information about the most efficient training routines these days, but it’s also healthy to give ourselves the permission to deviate and take advantage of the uniqueness of each new situation. Remember, there are no bad workouts.”

2. Forget the accoutrements

From a ski hill to a paddleboard, there’s nowhere Montreal trainer Julie Marchand doesn’t do yoga. “You don’t need a mat, the perfect clothes or any of the paraphernalia to be active. You can even do yoga in jeans if you focus on balance poses like the Eagle. And if you don’t have a flow memorized, think of your five favourite and your five least favourite postures (those are the ones you need to practise most), and repeat them.”

3. Think beyond good looks

“To avoid being what I call a ‘mirror athlete’ – someone who only works on what you can see in the mirror – try seeing travel as an opportunity to shift your focus on support muscles,” says Toronto’s Brent Bishop. “I recommend working out your posterior muscles – that is, deltoids, hamstrings, glutes, triceps and the like – twice as much as the anterior muscles like biceps, quads and abs. It’ll help enhance your range of motion and create functional strength that translates to lifting your kid and carrying groceries.”

4. Perfect the basics

According to Bodewitz, “When you’re at your home gym doing your usual workout, it’s easy to rush through the fundamentals. Being on the road is your chance to get introspective.” Bishop agrees: “Whether you’re a tennis lover or a runner, gear your hotel workout around increasing your performance for that particular sport. Focus on and break down each specific movement pattern. Make sure to picture yourself in action as you do it – that’s the secret to improving your game.”

5. Switch up your tempo

Marchand loves to combine yoga with strength training by incorporating free weights into postures like Plank and the Warriors, as well as speeding up her transitions between poses. Bodewitz, on the other hand, likes slowing down. “Strength building is about time under tension. If you’re used to doing your bicep curls one second up, one second down, try doing one second up, five seconds down. When your choice of weights is limited, switching your tempo is a great way to build strength.”

Montreal’s Julie Marchand hosts international retreats and is the author of Rêvez, voyagez, bougez!, about fitness during travel.

Toronto’s Brent Bishop is an on-air fitness expert on Cityline and the founder of Think Fitness Studios.

Calgary’s Nathan Bodewitz is a personal trainer and the founder of Peak Fitness YYC.