Fitness on the Road, Part 1: How You Can Stay in Shape Away from Home

Aerobics class participants do triceps dips.
Annette Petrongelli, second from left, Marine Corps Air Station New River AS-4400 fitness and group fitness instructor, runs her aerobics class through a set of triceps dips during one of her training circuits in Jacksonville, N.C., March 27, 2013. (Lance Cpl. Jorden Wells/Marine Corps Installations East)

The most important part about staying in shape while traveling, for work or vacation, is packing workout clothes.

When you have a chance to exercise, the excuse "I don't have sneakers and a pair of shorts" stops way too many people before they even get started. It is worth finding room in your bag because of the stress, bad food and sitting involved in traveling. Your body wants you to move. You'll get rid of stress, burn calories and release those feel-good endorphins.

If you don't have access to a gym or weights, there are plenty of things you can do with your own body's resistance. Here are 10 of the 20 moves that make up my exercise-on-the-road routine, and in my next column, you'll get the other 10 moves, and they get more intense.

1. Warm up. Start with a simple march and then jog in place for a minute. Move to a step-touch while lifting arms to the sides. Add an alternating hamstring curl and biceps curl with both arms. Then finish up the five-minute warmup with light jumping jacks.

2. Push-ups with a glute raise. Start with a regular style or add a multitasking move by lowering to the knees and adding lower-body sculpting. After the first modified push-up, raise your right foot to the ceiling. Repeat 10 times on the right side after each push-up and then 10 times on the left side. You've just worked your pecs, triceps, core and glutes.

3. Low leg low ab crunch. Next, lie on your back and straighten your legs 80% straight, knees together and feet on the floor. Put your hands behind your head and crunch up for 50. Be sure to keep your eyes on the ceiling, knees together, neck long and chin lifted.

4. Cardio interval. Jump rope (pretend to hold the rope and swing it for extra biceps work) for one minute or count to 100. I alternate from one leg at a time, to feet together and hopping. Maybe hop twice on one leg at a time. Have fun with it. For all cardio intervals in this workout, march in place for at least 20 seconds afterward.

5. Triceps dips. Sit on a bench, footstool or chair with your hands at your sides and palms on the bench, knuckles up and fingertips curling around toward the floor. Lift yourself off the bench and slightly forward. Lower your backside toward the floor while bending your elbows at 90 degrees. Finish the move by pushing back up so elbows extend again. You can make this more difficult by straightening the legs or lifting one leg off the floor.

6. Inner thighs. Lie on your right side and balance on your right elbow and right hip. Bend your left knee to place the left foot in front of your straight right leg. Be sure to keep the right foot parallel to the floor and lift the right leg 30 times. Repeat on the other side. Next lie on your back with your legs extended over your ribcage. Turn the toes out and flex the feet. Begin to open and lower the legs to the sides, away from one another. To finish the move, bring the heels back together. To intensify, only bring heels in halfway and press against your inner thighs with your hands for a true "thigh master" resistance move. Repeat step one on the left elbow and hip.

7. Cardio. Stand up and do 20 jumping jacks with the right foot in front, 20 with the left foot in front and 20 alternating and crossing feet.

8. Outer thighs. Now lie again on your right side and prop yourself up on your elbow -- this time in a half-side plank. Bend the right leg and lift hips off the floor. Keep the left leg straight as you lift it for 25 reps. Keep the abs tight, because you're working them as well in this multitasker. Repeat on the other side.

9. Planks. Alternate from a middle plank (looks like a freeze frame of the top of a push-up) to a side plank and hold each for a count of 10 seconds. Middle, right, middle, left equals one repetition. Complete five repetitions.

10. Cool down. Do a five-minute cooldown with the same moves in the warmup and then stretch your hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, hip flexors, inner and outer thighs, glutes, triceps, pectorals, trapezius and rhomboids (upper back), and lower back with standing rolls or cat/cow.

Remember to drink a lot of water and maybe treat yourself to new exercise clothes as a souvenir to celebrate your healthy habits on the road.

Check out part two of this article.

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Nikki Fitness is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, writer and publicist living in New York City. She started as a cheerleader at Syracuse University but became certified in fitness before her beach wedding so that she could get back in shape. Laura, a graduate student, working mom and military wife, inspired Nikki's Military Wife Workout (MWW) for all military wives. Find more articles by Nikki at her article archive. Learn more at

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