Staying fit while traveling?

ryanmcb's picture
Rank: Chimp | 13


I am a Vanderbilt student conducting primary research for my Entrepreneurship class. My group was tasked with coming up with a business plan that solves the pain points of a certain market segment. A few of my group members interned for consulting firms this past summer, traveling Monday-Thursday. They realized that it was hard to stay in shape and effectively train in the hotel gyms without the luxury of a personal trainer like they were used to at their home gym.

What experiences have you had with staying fit while either on the road or working crazy hours at your home office? Is there anything that you wish existed to help with staying fit? Would a sort of "Uber for personal trainers," or a platform where you could request personal trainers to come to your hotel or office gym at any time of day be appealing to you?

Please let me know any and all thoughts you may have.

Thank you for your time,
Vanderbilt Senior

United States - South

Comments (28)

Sep 25, 2018

Sorry I can't help, but this is an interesting question/idea. I workout almost everyday and was thinking about how I can maintain this when I start in consulting next spring.

I have never used a personal trainer, and probably wouldn't, but I was thinking about getting some TRX bands to take with me during travel.

Oct 3, 2018 until 8 PM, go out to a restaurant for dinner, get home at 9:30 PM, call sig other, work on other engagements you left the field in with open points, oh shit its 11:00 PM, many be midnight, better get some sleep before your up at 7 to be at the client by 8. Honestly, until firms can sell consulting engagements that you only work 40-50 hours a week, finding time to commit to paying for a personal trainer to meet you at a hotel when your work schedule is unpredictable is a nearly impossible task.

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Oct 3, 2018

This is probably the only reason MC/TC can be better than SC. I work 50 ish hours a week in MC and have time to work out.

In client by 8am (can work out half hour before work if I'm feeling motivated), at client until 6/6:30pm, can get dinner and workout done by 8:30pm which gives time to read a book or chat with SO or whatever before going to sleep.

SC people work too damn much. Imo not worth the extra cash.

Feb 1, 2019

"Staying Fit" could involve a litany of things, not just bring a personal trainer to the hotel.

For example you could:
1. Use a bathroom a flight or two up or down / across the hall / etc to get some walking in.
2. If you can't exercise then eat less... fill up on voluminous foods, vegies, low carb
3. Do high intensity workouts in your room. 10 minutes is exponentially better than none at all.
4. ALL hotel gym will have a treadmill... hit that up for 15 to 30 minutes.

From the perspective of OP... it is an inconvenience, in my opinion, that doesn't have a solution that would also include a profitable business model.

Oct 3, 2018

The majority of people i know who consistently workout don't have a trainer. when I travel, typically 1.5-2 weeks of the month, I use it as my time to get out of the gym and to run. Its a good way to see a new town. I like your idea, it just seems like it would be for a very very small segment.

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Oct 3, 2018

Totally agree. If you're a complete fitness noob, a personal trainer is helpful but once you've had a few sessions, I don't think you need them anymore.

Oct 3, 2018

You don't need a fitness trainer. Maybe inititally to check form esp. for deadlifts, but it's quite simple, push one day pull the other day.

If you aren't able to access a hotel, do pushups when you wake up, and run before you sleep.

Oct 3, 2018

I don't find it difficult to find time to work out most weeks while on the road. I mostly have difficulty motivating myself to get to the gym, it's not a time issue.

As far as staying healthy goes, the hardest part is eating since you get literally whatever you want to eat for free every day. The first step is always eating a salad for lunch - no exceptions. I also skip breakfast. These two things allow me some freedom in what I eat for dinner. I can hit a steakhouse once a week and not gain weight.

I have been traveling weekly for ~2 years and am about the same weight as when I started with variance of +/- 10 pounds depending on how disciplined I am at the time.

Oct 3, 2018

I would honestly just stick to a routine while you are traveling. Hotel gyms always give you the challenge of being able to adapt to what is available there. Ask your personal trainer what you should do as well.

Oct 3, 2018

If you're staying at any chain hotel they'll all have a standard base gym (Cardio machines / some free weights / some machines). You can easily get a workout in at a hotel gym. Will you be the next Kai Green working out only on a hotel gym? No, of course not. But you can get a pump / heart rate up. Remember, fitness is a marathon not a sprint. Lifting at a serious gym but being complacent / skipping weeks here and there, working out on and off, etc will yield far worse results than working out at a hotel consistently for 6 month to multiple years will.

If the goal is to stay fit and not let the pounds creep up on you then about 80% of that will be diet... Don't eat the hotel buffet in the morning, get a sandwhich at lunch and then also go out for dinner... Like someone else said, skip breakfast. If you need to you can have some oats and egg whites. Salad with light dressing for lunch, then you can afford freedom during dinner / going out / etc.

Jan 24, 2019

Has anyone tried the FlexIt app to pay by the minute at gyms? Curious if this is a good option.

Jan 31, 2019

Why the hell do you need a personal trainer?

Jan 31, 2019

You don't need a trainer. I'm actually dumbfounded that this comment is coming from a college student. What fucking college student only works out with a trainer? I know many UHNW people personally and professionally (8/9 figures) and I don't know anyone who had a personal trainer in undergrad. Maybe the occasional session but not for daily workouts.

Having a spreadsheet or target goals each week does help. There are a ton of apps and websites that help with this. But anyone who follows the rule of "do a little more this week than last week" is going to be fine.

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Jan 31, 2019

I travel relatively frequently. Usually out of country for 3 to 6 months of the year.

I don't use a trainer. They are pretty useless if you've been training for a while. I use them periodically but that's to tweak my form for the powerlifting stuff.

Hotel gyms don't have extra wide benches with killer grip and usually have whippy shit bars, next to nothing for freeweights, etc... but I think it's better than nothing and you can still get a lot done if you're crafty. Yeah you won't be able to get in heavy compound work but you don't really need ultra heavy compounds to look "good".

It can also be a cool opportunity to mix your workouts up. I always use them as a deload period and do more bodyweight stuff etc.

Also the best way to get a workout in while travelling is the AM imo. Rarely get hit with shit at 5AM.

Feb 1, 2019

I actually found that being on the road is EASIER to stay healthier. Here's why:

  1. You have an expense account, so it is easy to order fresh, healthy food without having to source, cook, and clean up after yourself
  2. Almost every hotel has a gym. Despite the often lack of strength training equipment (racks, benches), that doesn't have to be your only work out. I would frequently work on body-weight workouts or swim laps on the road, and save the heavy lifting for when I'm home on the weekend

Ultimately it comes down to willpower. If you have the desire and will to consistently work out, travelling should not be an impediment to staying fit. Everything else is just an excuse.

Feb 1, 2019

I agree with the above poster. I dropped a lot of weight after I started travelling for work. It's easier to be selective about what you consume and everything is free.

Here's what I did when I was cutting - Monday's after work I'd go to Whole Foods and buy a bunch of veggies and salmon, protein bars, nuts, and stack the fridge in my hotel room.

I'd keep protein powder at client site so I always have easy access to that.

Also, it's very unusual to be 'on client site' until later than 6 PM. It's very rare. IT can happen at times but at least in my 4 years in consulting, has probably happened only ~20 times. Usually everyone dips out at 6 PM, heads back to the hotel, and you have to self-manage your time between 6 PM and 12 AM to get any deliverable out, sync up with your team members, grab dinner, facetime your S/O, call family, watch netflix, or go to the gym.

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Feb 1, 2019

Also - team dinners or client dinners aren't mandatory. Everyone has the fear of becoming unhealthy. If you suggest a team workout, chances are everyone will join at the client gym.

Feb 1, 2019

Ah just insist on good sushi and eat sashimi. Done. :)

Feb 1, 2019

There's a lot of solutions for this. Just a few off the top of my head:

  1. Equinox and other chains offer national memberships so you can use a real gym while traveling.
  2. Some hotels (W for example) are touting their more comprehensive gyms.
  3. For the crossfit crowd, there are apps that find locations nearby that you can use for a small guest fee.
  4. There are home workout apps with exercises you can do in a hotel room (look up 7 minute workout).
  5. Go for a run

It's a good question you ask but something doesn't add up about "my group members found it hard to stay in shape without the luxury of a personal trainer." Arent these college kids? Also my experience is that the fit people very rarely use trainers. Every time I see a trainer at my gym they're showing an older person or some other noob looking person how to do basic exercises.

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Feb 1, 2019

I'd add Peloton to this and foresee them capturing this demographic pretty well moving forward. They have a "digital only" subscription ($20/mo) which just gives you the workouts without the equipment. Obviously depends what type of "fitness" you are looking for but I'd guess for the average business traveler this would probably be worth the money

Feb 1, 2019

Ill be a consultant traveling Mon-Thur starting this summer. I do not think working out will be that hard. Get the heavy lifts in Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Use Monday and Thursday as recovery days. Use Tuesday and Wednesday to do body weight/ circuit workouts which are cardio intensive (every hotel has cardio machines). All comes down to your motivation. If you commit to working out those days and don't make excuses then you'll be fine.

Feb 1, 2019

Strategy Consultant out M-Th. You just have to make the time for it if its priority, might mean the 530am workout or the late night, but it can be done.

Personally, would never be interested in the idea (though interesting). The top tier firms basically all give you $ for health and wellness each month so I end up just using mine on a nearby gym or class or just hit the hotel if pressed for time. I'd actually struggle more with the personal training b/c the randomness in my day-to-day can make it hard to stick to assigned times.

Feb 1, 2019

it all comes down to how much do you care/want to stay in shape. Almost all hotels these days have gyms. Wake up early and go. Then try and eat clean when you can. eat clean for breakfast and lunch and keep the alcohol to a minimum mon-wed.

Its really not hard, it's all a mindset and how much you want it.

Most Helpful
Feb 1, 2019

Staying fit and healthy when travelling is all about disciple. As others have mentioned, diet is 80% of staying healthy and travelling can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, everything is free so you have no excuse not to eat healthy. On the other hand, you are generally presented with a lot of opportunities to indulge (nice restaurants, the ever present catered breakfast / lunch that always has yummy sugary and unhealthy snacks that are so hard to resists, more opportunities to drink, etc) and it can be a bit hard to exercise proper self-control, especially if you are tired.

In terms of working out, hotels gym are generally fine, but not great. I usually tend to run quite a bit, especially if it's a city I don't really know. I've been staying at Airbnbs a lot recently so I've been supplementing my runs with core, HIIT training from the Nike Training App. Classpass is also an option, but I still find it to be a bit pricey (I don't mind paying $200 / month for equinox, but never understood paying $30 for a soulcycle or yoga class).

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Jul 10, 2019

First, the fitness industry is difficult because collective everyone wants to "workout" and "be healthy", but once you start dissecting the market you realize there are a lot of segments of people.

Basically, what you are looking for is someone who wants to train on the road, doesn't have enough experience to put a workout together or at least copy their home workout, and is willing to pay a trainer to come and work with them for an hour. Also, you need trainers who are in the area who don't have a client list who can devote serious time to this. I think that's a hard connection to make in quantity, but I could be wrong.

As stated, traveling on the road is more about diet (as staying in shape is) then really about training. You can find good gyms, or better equipment, but if you're eating poor it doesn't matter.

Personally, my advice, people over state their workout because it has to be sold to them. For example, crossfit is a great workout, or this class at this gym is the "key" to getting in shape. But if you're at a hotel, with no gym, just do 500 body squats. Mix in 200 push ups. It might not be the best workout you ever did, but it can get you going. Go in the parking lot/nearby park and mix in sprints. These are all easy things. Basically what I'm saying is, most people won't get up and do this by themselves. Maybe they will if they have a trainer waiting for them, but I just can't see people setting that up, mainly because of the low ratio of actual trainer clients at my gym.

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Jul 10, 2019