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Back in the saddle

In Spring, a road warrior’s fancy turns to thoughts of travel. Winter is over and the business traveler is once again suited up and ready to roll.

Admit it, we often feel a bit sluggish coming out of the winter doldrums, and the weight we have put on during the cold weather doesn’t help.

Exercise is not only good for shedding the pounds and toning up the muscles, it’s also a great way to boost your energy levels and reset your bodily clock. To help you get back in the saddle, we talk to experts about short workout programs you’ll be able to do at the hotel gym.

Expert panel

Andrew Cox (AC): director of training, Joint Dynamics (

Marc Rimmer (MR): National Academy of Sports Medicine- (NASM) certified personal fitness trainer from Fiji Fitness (

Bridge Hudson (BH): A NASM-certified personal trainer, training manager and full-time instructor from XYZ Indoor Cycling Studio (


You arrive straight off a red-eye flight tired and slightly jetlagged, and need to get energized for the day’s meetings.

AC: It’s very critical to keep things simple at first, unless you are an experienced exerciser with impeccable technique, because body fatigue increases the likelihood of injury.

The Goal

Begin by opening your body up from a postural perspective, strengthen your posture and increase circulation by flushing the body with blood that is rich in rejuvenating oxygen, nutrients and feel-good hormones such as serotonin to get your body performing at its best.

The Exercise

Start off by mobilizing the body out of the fetal position into a more open posture – try lying back over a big stability ball so you are face up and your spine is passively adopting the shape of the ball. Stretch out until you’re at the end of your range and hold there for about 10 seconds duration with your arms extended out to the side and palms to the ceiling (so that you are forming a  “T” shape).

Follow that with a range of motion lunges of your choice, going forward and backward while reaching your arms gently overhead each time your feet are momentarily stationary and on the ground.

Next, stand in a stride-stance position toward a standing rowing machine. With the fixed point of the pulley set slightly higher than your head grab a cable and row. Keep the weight at about 60 percent of your maximum capacity (1RM) and do 15 repetitions with a smooth, controlled speed of movement.

Get back on the stability ball and repeat the spinal mobilizing for 45 to 60 seconds.

Repeat the row again.

End the exercise with 20 minutes on your favorite piece of cardio equipment. You should set the speed at a level where you can just hold a conversation but are not too out of breath. If you are experienced in cardio exercise, add two or three thirty-second pulses at 80 to 85 percent of your capacity. Keep it short and intense, then slow down. Repeat.

Finish with some deep diaphragmatic breathing to really oxygenate your body and brain to ensure you’re at your cognitive best for the rest of the day.

Total time spent in the gym should be about 30 minutes.


You’ve just got up, and need some exercise before the working day begins.

AC: This routine is for those who know their way around the gym, and have had enough sleep.

The Goal

Stimulate an anabolic hormone response. Cortisol levels are naturally high in the morning so put them to good use and challenge the body to get stronger and stimulate human growth hormone (HGH) and hopefully even testosterone – the hormone of focus.

The Exercise

Warm up with some multi-directional (multi-planar) lunges. It’s critically important to start slowly, being especially attentive to the quality of the movements, then gradually increase speed of movement to a controlled, fluid-like fast speed. Range of motion (ROM) is self-selected. Usually as you speed up, slightly reduce ROM so there are no energy leaks or jerky, staccato movements of the spine, hips, knees and ankles.

Use the mirror and do your best to look like an athlete. If you look out of control and no longer fluid, reduce speed and ROM and increase your focus/feel for the movement.

Next, lift heavy things!

We want mechano-overload of the major muscle groups of the body.

Take two warm-up sets at 50 percent then 65 percent of your capacity (1RM) with a mid-rep range (six to eight with 45 to 60 seconds’ rest in between). Then pump the music and get serious with your work sets. Three to five sets of eight to 10 reps at 80 percent to 90 percent of your 1RM with 60 to 90 seconds rest and a drink of water in between sets.

Cool down with a light lift (50 percent of 1RM) repeat lunges from warm up, then deep diaphragmatic breathing through your nose as you slowly walk to the showers.

If you don’t lift, then go for interval training on the cardio equipment such as a treadmill, stairmaster, elliptical trainer, rowing machine or stepmill.

Twenty minutes with five to eight 30-second pulses at 90 percent to 100 percent of your capacity followed by a two-minute cool-down with jogging or walking.


You have worked in the hotel room all morning, and want to have a workout before lunch with the client.

BH: This is a circuit that you can also do in the afternoon, but going lighter on the weights and higher on the reps.

The Goal

Generate a powerful, confident energy through heavy lifting but with only a few reps, focusing on big power moves. I like to do a big power lift right before dinner to work up my appetite.

The Exercise

Start with a light cardio warm up on one of the aforementioned equipment to get

the blood pumping– a 10 minute run/walk warm up (one-minute interludes), and

then five minutes of core warm up.

Start each of the following with two warm up sets of 12 reps each, and then one set with heavy weights to achieve exhaustion in six to eight reps: bench press with dumbbells; front squats with dumbbell; lat pull-down; seated shoulder press with dumbbells; concentration bicep curls; tricep extensions overhead.

End it with step-back lunges with dumbbells.  


You want to make good use of some time between afternoon meetings.

MR: Start with a dynamic warm up – four sets of skipping, walking lunges and sprinting with the rowing machine, with each activity lasting one minute.

Then eight rounds of high-intensity tactical training, one minute at a slower pace, and 30 seconds of sprinting.

Do four sets of skipping, push-ups and burpees, each activity lasting one minute. Then two sets of crunches, double leg raises and reverse crunches, each lasting

30 seconds.


You are jetlagged; it’s late at night and you can’t sleep.

BH: Nothing too intense – lighter cardio or a lighter weight circuit – similar to the morning workout but only one to two circuits instead of three. Or you can try a relaxing calming yoga sequence that focuses on long holds in relaxing positions that relieves stress and tension.

MR: For me, if I feel restless and can’t get to sleep when I need to, I go for a light jog, and always outside as looking at the sights takes my mind of not being able to sleep. My aim is not to workout but to put me back to sleep. It should be 45 minutes max, and I finish hard with a quick blitz lasting around three minutes – sprint for 30 seconds, then run for 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can end it with maximum burpees in a minute.  

By Reggie Ho

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