Fitness is a multi-billion-dollar industry, where people can easily spend hundreds of dollars a month on health club memberships, personal training sessions and home gym equipment. All these things can certainly help you get in shape, but are they really necessary? And even if you do decide to make this investment, how will you take your workout with you when you travel?
Fortunately, it is possible to get a high intensity workout without any equipment whatsoever. You may find that a few simple tools, such as light hand or leg weights or exercise bands, are worth the investment, but even these products aren’t truly necessary. But the money-saving aspect is only one of the positive attributes of equipment-less exercise. If you don’t have to bring anything with you, you can do your workout anywhere: whether you’re in a hotel room, in a public park, in your bedroom or in your garage.
When it comes to burning calories, what’s most important is the intensity of your workout. As long as the intensity is high enough, it doesn’t matter at all if you’re using equipment or not. Keeping that in mind, here are five workouts that can bring a high level of intensity, without requiring heavy, difficult to transport equipment:
1. INTERVAL TRAINING
Interval training – sometimes called “burst bout” training – is something that most people are aware of, thanks to the numerous infomercials currently running for interval-based exercise programs. This type of training, which involves bursts of exercise followed by short periods of rest, is particularly effective, as it allows you to tone muscles while also burning calories. These intervals may involve running, jogging in place, jumping rope or performing various body-weight activities.
Typically, rest times in these programs are brief so that your heart rate doesn’t fall below the level needed for aerobic (calorie-burning) exercise. Each exercise generally focuses on a different muscle group so that, although you’re working out nearly constantly, you aren’t working the same muscles in every exercise. This gives each muscle group time to recover and gives you a better full-body workout.
Most of the exercises involved in interval training programs don’t require equipment, though some utilize exercise bands and a yoga mat may also be helpful. One of the biggest positives for this type of exercise is the amount of time that’s required. With interval training, all it takes i 30-45 minutes a day to see results very quickly.
For many world travelers, running represents the ideal workout. No matter where you may be, all you have to do is put on a pair of shoes and the world becomes your gym. Sure, you can enhance your workout with portable music players, heart rate trackers, pedometers and other tech tools, but when it comes down to it, these devices are enhancements – not necessary components of your workout.
Of course, it’s important to remember that running can be hard on your joints. If you’re a couch potato looking to get active, start slow and listen to your body. Stretch regularly and watch for overuse injuries, as things like shin splints and runner’s knee are unfortunately common among beginning joggers. You may also find it helpful to have a local running store help select shoes that provide the right type of support for your feet and body.
Investing in good running shoes isn’t cheap, but it sure beats the cost of buying a treadmill or a room full of free weights (not to mention the cost of medical bills associated with injuries related to poor running form!).
Swimming does require one major element: water. But when you make swimming your preferred form of exercise, you can get a great workout at a local pool, in the ocean, in a lake or at a health club. Many municipal pools have special times when lap swimmers are welcome, and offer cheap admission fees (or free passes for local residents).
Swimming is an ideal exercise (if you swim intensely enough), as it works the whole body and doesn’t put stress on your joints. If you find running to be too jarring to your knees, hips or back, swimming can help minimize these impacts. What’s more, most people enjoy the sensation of swimming, finding it relaxing – even peaceful.
You can make a kind of interval training routine in the water by swimming one lap in a pool or one length in open water at full speed and then one lap or length at a slower pace. You can also switch strokes to make sure that all your muscles are getting used.
4. ROLLER SKATING OR ROLLERBLADING
Cross country sports like roller skating or rollerblading are an ideal option for people who hate jogging, but who also dislike spending time at the gym (or who travel too frequently for the gym to be a viable option). Certainly, roller skates are a piece of equipment, but once you buy them, you can take them anywhere in the world and you won’t be faced with the ongoing fees of gym memberships or equipment maintenance.
If joint pain is a concern for you, know that roller skating and rollerblading are low impact workouts, as you’re gliding, not stepping up and down. And if you add a set of poles to help push yourself along, you can get an upper body workout as well as the lower body exercise you get naturally from using your legs to propel your skates or blades forward.
Another perk of these activities is that they can be performed anywhere where there’s a road or a sidewalk you can skate down. Just remember to wear a helmet if you’re skating near traffic!
5. MUAY THAI
Muay Thai – the national sport of Thailand – is a martial art that originated in Southeast Asia. Unlike boxing, Muay Thai practitioners learn to utilize all parts of their body in combat by training their kicks, punches, elbow strikes and knee strikes.
But despite popular misconceptions, although Muay Thai can be a violent sport, it doesn’t have to be. Muay Thai workouts typically consist of footwork drills, shadow-boxing and shadow-kicking. Because of the wide range of movements used in the strikes, you can get a complete workout very easily, with very little equipment.
Best of all, this workout can travel with you. Running a few drills in your hotel room will keep you in shape on the road, while resorts in Thailand offer luxury Muay Thai retreats to both novices and expert practitioners. Use these opportunities to either take a vacation and introduce yourself to the sport or to reward yourself with an authentic Muay Thai vacation in exchange with sticking with your workouts at home.
No matter what type of exercise you choose, one thing is certain: you do not need expensive equipment to get a great workout. As long as you watch the intensity of your exercises, you can stay fit and healthy, whether you’re working out at home or in a hotel halfway around the world.