There is nothing worse for an exercise regime than a business trip stuffed to the gills with a full itinerary. In fact, one of the elements of a successful workout routine is the routine itself. The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that adults need at a minimum of “150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days each week.”
Thus, since the average length of a business trip is about six days, in order to keep on par with one’s exercise best practices, business travelers need to take the workout along with the work.
The plot thickens when one sprinkles in a bit of leisure with the business. This mashup yields the latest business travel portmanteau – “bleisure” – which can be described as multi-tasking on a grand scale. Bleisure often extends business trip, adding experience and Instagrammable moments to the trip, making it even more important that proper exercise routines travel alongside the businessperson.
Knowing their usual gym bags will be swapped for attaché cases throughout the journey, exercise enthusiasts should be asking the right questions to decide which essential workout tools yield the highest return on their exercise investment.
• Do the items allow me to maintain my normal exercise routine?
• Are the items lightweight (an important factor considering airline restrictions)?
• Are the items compact or can fold easily?
• Will I be able to utilize the fitness items in small spaces, if necessary?
Here are some of our top picks in six specific categories of take-along exercise equipment:
Clothing and footwear
Nike Flyknit RN $119-$219, nike.com
In this category, travelers look for footwear that is light enough (who needs to have sneakers put you over the weight limit?), flexible enough to be squeezed into a suitcase, and cushioned enough to support the feet and back, versatile to be used as a walking sneaker, and priced right for all budgets.This lightweight sneaker can be compacted into the depths of your luggage and emerge ready to take on any terrain. The stretch yarn upper provides both flexibility with its sock-like design, and breathability as the air flow extends to the side of the sneaker. The sole expands and contracts with a rounded construction that mimics your foot’s natural movement, yet offers support and grip.If you choose to wear this sneaker on your way to your destination, it is also easy to slip off and on going through security. If your destination is a more tropical clime, you might want to choose the Free RN Flyknit as your walking shoe to keep the heat away from the feet.
YoFoMat $39, khataland.com
Exercising the mind and spirit along with the body is essential for the business traveler’s well being. Whether it’s Yin Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga or Kundalini Yoga, a foldable yoga mat is as important as the sounds of pan flutes and an east-facing window. One such mat that is perfect for the business traveler who is short on space but long on motivation is the YoFoMat. Sold by Khataland, the YoFoMat comes in two thicknesses: ultra-thick (quarter-inch) and standard (one-sixth inch). At only $39, this non-slip mat is both affordable and versatile, and useful for yoga or meditation. The mat with carrying case weighs only 2.7 pounds. It’s eco-friendly, made from non-allergenic and non-toxic materials, safe for adults and children, and is latex free.
The North Face Rolling Thunder $161.37-$268.95, thenorthface.com
Active business travelers want a piece of luggage with characteristics that mirror their own – durable, flexible, mobile and attractive. A great choice for such multi-tasking is The North Face Rolling Thunder 22 inch Carry-on Bag. This bag balances a durable design with light weight. At about 7 pounds, this bag won’t force the traveler to begin the heavy lifting before they get to the gym.This travel bag features an extendable luggage handle with side release buttons, self-cleaning wheels and plastic bumpers to prevent wear. The perforated back panel helps keep the weight down, and its two external zippered pockets make for easy storage of workout equipment. This durable carryon is also versatile, with great capacity. Travelers like its quality and lightweight design, plus it’s easily identified on the baggage carousel.
The Activ5 Fitness Plus Package $159, activ5.com
If you think this category refers to resistance to those New Year’s resolutions to exercise more, think again. This resistance is isometric, meaning muscular action in which tension is developed without muscle contraction. Isometric exercises improve joint and connective tissue strength and balance. For travelers, isometrics are ideal because they can be performed in limited spaces, such as an airplane seat. Activ5 is a nifty gadget that fits in the palm of your hand and, when compressed, measures the muscle force and reps. The data is then communicated to your phone through the Activ5 app which acts as a personal coach, tracking the details of each workout and providing useful and fun stats. The Activ5 coaching element can instruct when to apply more and less pressure, for instance, as part of your “fitness fingerprint,” and offers over 100 unique workouts. Many of the workouts are paired with interactive games that make the exercises that much more motivating.The device comes with a AAA battery that lasts six to 12 months.
The Fitbit Charge 3 Starts at $149.95, fitbit.com/charge3
This Fitbit is like carrying a doctor along with you as you run, except a doctor gets charged much more often. Advertised as their “most advanced tracker ever,” the Fitbit Charge 3 offers slim, lightweight yet durable design and it’s water resistant to a depth of 50 meters. The Fitbit Charge 3 can monitor more than 15 exercise modes, like run, bike, swim, yoga, with goals and real-time stats. It provides heart rate and all-day calorie monitoring, indicates heart rate zones (Fat burn, Cardio, Peak zone), and has auto sleep tracking including sleep stages. Connect with your phone’s GPS for real-time pacing and distance.This wearable automatically syncs to computers and over 200 devices and offers everyday apps including call and calendar alerts, text notifications and quick replies. With Fitbit Pay, you can make secure payments while on the run from your wrist.A word to the wise: There are dozens of quality wearable monitors out there, and none may fit everything you need, so it’s best to find a few non-negotiable features and then compare by brand and price.
Zeamo Signup is free, zeamo.com
Like wearable monitors, there are plenty of exercise apps on the market, mostly to monitor health and organize your workouts. Some offer advice on exercises like having a mini-trainer on your phone. But for the business traveler, having access to the best equipment and facilities, along with life-size trainers, is what matters most. The Zeamo app connects travelers to 25,000 gyms and workout clubs around the world, for an individualized selection in the vicinity of their hotel. The app can be utilized by individual employees and employers alike. Signup is free, and there are corporate plans available that allow employees to choose a fitness plan from a range of options with day passes, weekly or monthly plans.Of course, travelers could take their workouts to the hotel fitness room, but few can compare to the diversity of equipment and technology available at establishments that specialize in exercise. Zeamo CEO, Paul O’Reilly-Hyland explains, “People want choice, and not everyone wants to workout in an in-house gym.” The perk works for the business as well, since encouraging and increasing an employees’ overall health lowers insurance premiums. Thus, a healthier staff means fewer sick days.