I travel for work occasionally and we go on adventures as a family fairly often, and when I’m on the road it can be hard to keep up with my routine. But here’s the thing: as a mom, I’m lucky to get half an hour to disappear by myself and work out. Rather than attempt a video in the hotel room with my daughter climbing all over me, wanting snacks and attention, I like to put the hubs on duty and sneak off to the fitness center for a quick catchup session. By combining cardio, weights, and abs (or doing each on a different day), you can max out your hotel gym’s potential. Try these solid moves to stay in shape when you’re away from your normal routine.
1. Bicycle Crunches
Let’s get right to it: abs are a problem area for a lot of moms. But you can tone them up most effectively by targeting the whole area. I like bicycle crunches the most because you get more burn for your buck with these — the legs are also working as you go.
How to do: Lie on your back with your hands clasped behind your head, bringing your shoulders up off the floor. As you bring your first knee in toward your chest, extend the other leg out in front of you and twist toward and over the bent knee. Repeat on both sides; 20 on each is great.
2. Side Shuffling on the Treadmill
Does that sound like an oxymoron? It doesn’t have to be! Every hotel gym has one, but this poor, unsung hero of the workout room is not just useful for walking or running. I like to mix it up with other fat burners and muscle toners.
How to do: Start by trying a side shuffle; turn the speed down a bit to maintain control and simply turn to the side, shuffling instead of your standard forward-facing run. Do this for 30 seconds on each side, switching as you go. Feeling confident? Add a lunge.
Photo: Milligan Movement
3. Dumbbells on a Ball
In hotel fitness centers, I like to make use of things we don’t have at home — an exercise ball and assortment of dumbbells being on that list. This challenging series will target your back, legs, glutes, core, and shoulders.
How to do: Place the large ball on the floor and lay over it on your back. Feet should be firmly on the ground, with your legs in a tabletop position. The highest point of the ball should be at about your bra line and your head and neck should be supported on the ball. Start with pullovers, using both hands to hold one dumbbell as you begin at the top with arms straight and slowly lower the dumbbell back behind your head until upper arms are parallel with the floor. Another challenge is take one dumbbell in each hand and press them up toward the ceiling, then lower with control into cactus arms.
4. Pilates Side Kick Series
These will be your thighs’ best friend and worst enemy. I have my favorite series memorized by now but if you aren’t familiar with them, just bring your laptop or phone down to the gym with you and follow along with a YouTube video.
How to do: To get set up, lie on the floor or a mat with your body in a straight line (you can place your hand at the small of your back and glance down toward your feet to make sure you aren’t bent anywhere). Bend the arm that is on the floor and raise that hand to create a cradle for your head, resting the other hand down in front of you. Then, you’re ready to begin!
Photo: Thrive Pilates
5. Squats with Weights
If you’re a seasoned squatter, skip the wall or even add barbells. But for those who haven’t felt this particular burn in a while, the wall squat is a great way to waken up your muscles.
How to do:
Stand straight with your feet facing forward and head and chest in a straight line. Hold your hands out in front of you for balance and “sit” back and down into an imaginary chair, making sure neither your knees nor ankles are caving in or out to compensate (knees should track over the second toes). Do not allow your back to arch. Pause at the bottom for 20 seconds, then push through your heels to stand up. Add free weights when you’re ready, holding one in each hand and ensuring your arms remain straight out in front of you as you squat.
If you prefer to start with some wall work, head toward an uncluttered (and un-mirrored!) space and face outward into the room. Do not use your arms to guide you as you descend toward having your thighs parallel with the floor, keeping your hips back against the wall and heels flat on the ground. A great goal is to be able to hold these for a minute at the bottom. To add dumbbells, lower your arms to your sides slowly and then bringing them up so forearms are parallel with the floor, and repeating as you go.