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How Road Warriors Can Work Out at the Gym for Cheap While Traveling

October 21st, 2016 /

Business travel really puts a kink in my workout schedule. When I’ve got a week or two at home, I feel great—then it all gets messed up as soon as I hit the road. It doesn’t help that I’m attending work dinners and happy hours, grabbing ready-made food, and, in general, not eating as healthily as I do at home.

I’ve been determined to keep up a more regular routine over the past few months, and I’ve discovered that there are a surprising number of cheap gym options for frequent travelers. If you’re in the same boat, here’s what to do.

work out while traveling

Image credit: Flickr user University of Salford Press (CC BY 2.0)

Ask the Right Questions About Your Hotel Fitness Room

A lot of hotels will advertise a “fitness” room and give you a single treadmill, a half-rack of dumbbells and a yoga mat. Before you book, call the hotel and ask:

  • What equipment does the gym have?
  • What are its hours? Many don’t have 24-hour access and can’t accommodate a hectic schedule.
  • Do they have gym shoes or other supplies for rent? This lets you get away with packing just the essentials for your trip.
  • Do they have photos or reviews on their website?

Use Your Membership

If you are a member of a large gym franchise like LA Fitness, Anytime Fitness, YMCA, Planet Fitness, or Orangetheory Fitness, find out if you can use your membership at other locations.

LA Fitness or Planet Fitness members might have to upgrade to a more expensive tier, but Anytime Fitness lets you work out at any location after the first 30 days of your membership, and Orangetheory’s membership also includes all locations. You should check out the YMCA, too. Most YMCA gyms participate in the AWAY (Always Welcome At YMCA) program, which gives members 15 free visits at any location around the country.

Search for Free Trials

A lot of boutique gyms, yoga studios, and fitness classes offer free trials for people shopping for memberships. In theory, this gives you the opportunity to use the facility once while deciding if you want to sign up. While you probably won’t be, this is still a great way to use the gym while traveling, especially if you want to try something a little different. Free trials are especially common at fitness clubs offering classes like kickboxing, kettlebell, or pilates.

There’s an App for That

Yes, there are apps for finding a gym when you’re on the road. These options will help you locate one-day passes:

  • Gymsurfing. Available for iPhone or Android, this app helps travelers book day passes to thousands of gyms across the country. The app shows nearby locations, plus the price of the day pass (which typically runs from $5 to $25).
  • Groupon isn’t just useful for local dining. The coupons in their health and fitness section are frequently for one-day passes to nearby yoga studios and boutique gyms.
  • ClassPass is a monthly membership that allows users to gain access to more than 8,000 fitness studios across the country (including FlyWheel and Pure Barre). Members can take as many classes per month as they like and visit the same studio up to three times each month.
  • Gravy doesn’t have an official mobile app yet, but the website allows users to find fitness classes like Zumba, yoga, and kickboxing. You can sort events by category, then create an account to save anything you’re interested in. The only downside is that you can’t book directly through the site. You have to click a link that takes you to the official event page, where you can then sign up.

Talk to a Local Personal Trainer

Having a personal trainer sometimes allows you access to a gym without a membership. If you’re going to be in a new city for a full week or more and are serious about multiple workout sessions, get online and find a local trainer. They might ask for a higher fee in exchange for a short-term contract, but if you were going to pay for several day passes anyway, the cost can even out (and you get expert advice and better equipment). This option does take a little more planning since the trainer needs enough notice to fit you into their schedule.

Skip the Gym

Of course, gyms aren’t the only place to turn to if you want to sneak a workout into your travel plans. Parks have become one of my favorite places to exercise in a pinch because they’re not only free, they include all the equipment you need to get a killer workout. You can use benches and playground equipment to do simple bodyweight exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, dips, and tucks.

You can also bring easily packable fitness items along with you, like a jump rope, resistance bands, yoga book, or your favorite fitness DVD if you want to work out in the comfort of your hotel room.

I’ve found that having options helps. I bought a ClassPass membership but sometimes jog outdoors when I want to see more of a new city. Since I’m a JetLux member, I also have access to luxury hotels, which tend to offer nicer gym amenities (plus a lot of other perks). And once you find what works, you might not be able to turn down the chili cheese fries during happy hour, but you can at least minimize the damage.

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