blue and white bed linen
Photo by Edelle Bruton

The Ultimate Guide to Work Out In Your Hotel Room

Even if it is tiny, and even if you don’t have time. I am also including a challenge program I have started that you can follow along from home or while you are on the road!

When you travel for business or pleasure, time is not your friend. You may not have an accessible gym, or it may be small and crowded. Or maybe you just don’t have time to change into workout clothes and do a full-on workout in public. Enter the ultimate gym: your hotel room! 

Hotel rooms are well-carpted, they have full-length mirrors where you can check out your form, you can have the TV on while you workout, and there is usually a balcony you can also use to get some vitamin D! It’s your own private space, and you can draw the curtains and just workout in your PJs before you hop in the shower. So USE it!  Here are a few tips to making a hotel workout do-able:

Use your hotel room furniture: The gratuitous chairs that just take up space are the best workout equipment! You can do tricep dips, elevated pushups, step ups (obviously not if the chair has wheels). There are many chair-based workout options on apps and my Travel Youtube playlist, like this one from MadFit.

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Bring your own equipment: As I said in my previous travel workout post, which you should check out if you have not had a chance, pack some exercise bands and sliders so you can do different types of resistance workouts 

Clear the space: Move the side tables and luggage rack out of the way to dedicate a space for your fitness, and put any gear you might have brought in that area. 

Focus on one type of workout – Target a different muscle area, like abs, arms, or legs, or a cardio bodyweight workout, so that your workouts can be shorter and more purposeful. My DAOFitLife YouTube Channel already has playlists organized this way of the best workouts you can do for arms, legs, abs, and more! Click on the link below to access all my created playlists:

Zen out :A balcony is a great place to do the yoga workout, especially a sunrise or sunset session. You can use a hotel bath towel or additional blanket they usually provide as a mat. Try this sunrise session with Adrienne (and Benji!) from my yoga playlist:

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Set yourself up for success

Here is my checklist for setting yourself up for success with a hotel room workout:

  • Have coffee prepped (pod inserted water filled)
  • Have big bottle of water by bed when you go to sleep
  • Set your alarm and a backup, like the clock provided by the hotel or a wakeup call
  • Workout clothes laid out fireman style by the bed (for more on that, see my how to make time for working out post)
  • App or youtube workout downloaded and queued up 
  • Temperature set to somewhat cooler 
  • Wake up and go! 

Best YouTube Channels for Hotel Room Workouts (Plus my current challenge!!)

I am a huge fan of Trainwithgainsbybrains, because she keeps it really simple. The workouts are short enough to feel them, but not long enough to feel stressed out that you are not going to have time. And best of all: SHE ONLY DOES EVERY EXERCISE ONCE. BLESS HER. I am now one of her biggest fans. Also, she is mute throughout the wokrouts and just uses a countdown timer. This allows you to watch TV while you work out. This might make me a huge dork but I love to turn on the cable and watch the local news channels when I travel!

Right now, I am doing Gainsybrains’ 30-day challenge while I am on the road with spotty gym access (and in France, the definition of “fitness center” in a hotel is very loose). So come try this with me, I have all the videos from her challenge on my channel right here:

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I just completed day 1 and I have done many of her ab workouts, which I feature in my DAOFitLife abs playlist

Growingannanas is another channel that has great bodyweight and ab workouts. 

You can find all of my favorite workouts on my YouTube channel, where I divide them up by category. Most are bodyweight-only, and can be done in hotel rooms and at home. 

In case you had any doubt on my genuine love for hotel workouts, check out my pictures from Winsford, England; Santa Monica, California; and Shanghai China. I mean it – you can work out anytime, anywhere.

Lili in California to China
You can always improvise, no matter how little space or time you have, from California to China

Best apps for hotel workouts 

If you want to download some apps that are hotel-room friendly, here are my top recommendations!

  • SWEAT app by Kayla Itsines – you can choose different types of resistance and HIIT workouts, all available with no equipment, Avatars of the trainers demo the moves and you can synch your playlist. There are also multiple circuits to each workout so you can stop when you run out of time and resume later. The app also has targeted upper body, lower body and core workouts. You can also use their gym and at-home customized workouts, if you have access to a hotel gym or water bottles in your room you can use as weights. There are also restorative and recovery types of workouts on the app.
  • The Jillian Michaels app has dozens of 25-minute workouts with no equipment plus a good number of 10-minute workout options focusing on discrete body areas, like abs, arms, legs, and quick HIIT.  You can focus on a different body part for every workout to have a good HIIT training program. The app also lets you substitute the movements for level of difficulty and available equipment 
  • TMAC fitness – a HIIT workout program created by trainer Todd McCullough, which has 20-minute HIIT workouts you can do with only a mat’s worth of space needed. You will be sweating and huffing by the end. This includes the warm-up and the cool-down, which is usually a combination of yoga moves. Here is a sample of one of Todd McCullough’s workouts. I can vouch for him, because I trained with him personally! This workout came really handy when I was in Shanghai and running made my chest hurt from the pollution. 
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  • The Alo Yoga app – This is not just a “yoga” app, there are a lot of cardio, HIIT and strength training options from very fit trainers for time frames varying from 6 minutes to 60. There are a lot of options for calm restorative meditations and stretching routines to loosen up key body parts like the hips, which get distressed during travel. There are also a number of morning sunrise energy flow sessions for less than 30 minutes, the perfect way to start your day when you do not have a lot of time to fit in a workout. 
  • The Down dog app: If you want to do yoga, barre, or pilates, this app has them all. You can customize the length of your workout, the voice used, the kind of yoga (power, restorative, meditative). 

You can read my post about the down dog and alo yoga app here and other yoga/barre pilates apps here:

And about different fitness apps here, including a deeper dive on the Jillian Michaels and Sweat Apps.

Equipment you can use in a hotel room 

Use ALL the available equipment in a hotel room! It’s like your playground for 24-96 hours. Most people rarely get their money’s worth (even if it is comped), so take advantage of having all of this space to yourself. Here is a list of what should be equipment, not decoration:

  • The full-length mirror – hello, what better way to check your form without having to worry about someone blocking your view 
  • The water and wine bottles – freeweights
  • Towels – yoga mats or makeshift sliders/stretching bands
  • The chair – perfect tool for a barre class, tricep dips (stationary chairs of course), elevated pushups, and supported abdominal work (like leg lifts or  the dragonfly)
  • The ottoman – a bench – chest flies, bench presses, seated bicycles, and you can also make your triceps dips more challenging by using this to elevate your legs. 
  • Your bed – perfect for cooldown stretches and nighttime stretching like from this video by Anna McNulty
  • The bathroom doorframe – perfect for pec and chest stretches that also help unlock  tight back and neck that are curved over at the computer all day. You have this list of 17 stretches to choose from. My favorite is the goal-post stretch, where you bend each arm at a right angle (hence the name) and lean forward. It feel so good after a stressful day of meetings 

DAOFitLife Playlist workout options:

Some of these require light equipment (like the Arena body bands I recommend that you get) but most are bodyweight only and do not require a lot of space. 

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