Working out on a business trip

We are all busy people. Whether you’re married or single, work at home or in an office, parent or not, we all have a lot going on. Athleta chi tankEveryone knows the benefits of exercise, but fitting in a work out between work, home, and social life can be a challenge. Multiply that by ten when you’re on a business trip. You spend hours flying, more hours working, then you socialize at dinner, check into a hotel, respond to emails, call your family (if you’re lucky) and then fall into bed exhausted. Whew! No wonder people complain about having no time to work out on the road.

I will confess: I am not always awesome about this. I will go through spurts of doing great and then periods of doing not-so-great. The Home Warrior and I have had a successful five month run of not eating flour or sugar (except on special occasions), and I feel like it may be time to take that lifestyle change up to the next level. We are tossing around a few options in my mind (another triathlon? A half marathon?) but whatever we ultimately decide will require some regular training. As I discovered when I did a triathlon a few years ago, training for an event doesn’t get to stop just because I’m on a business trip. So. Here is my strategy for getting exercise on the road.

Plan it into the schedule. When I was training for my triathlon, the best way to make sure I worked out was to plan it into my daily schedule. Before my trip I knew when the gaps were, and blocked out the time on my calendar with a specific activity. If getting up thirty minutes early was the only way, well, that’s what I did.

Make sure the hotel has what you need. When one of my colleagues travels to Austin she always stays in a downtown hotel because they have close access to the running trails along the river. If your goals aren’t quite so lofty, make sure the hotel has a gym, or that there is one nearby.

Bring your own gear. Sometimes we travel out to tiny towns with no workout facilities whatsoever. In that case, bring some resistance bands and a yoga mat and create your own workout. Another option is to download a podcast that tells you exactly what to do (my preference).

Pack smart. Workout gear can take up a lot of space in your suitcase. There’s not a lot you can do about the bulk of running shoes, but there’s some flexibility with clothes. Bring shorts and shirts that can be rinsed in the bathroom sink and will dry quickly, or that can be worn more than once without washing (like Athleta’s Unstinkable, pictured.). For colder climates choose workout gear does double duty, like leggings and a long sleeve shirt. Don’t forget things like water bottles, goggles, and headphones, if those are part of your routine.

Motivate yourself. Do what it takes to get yourself motivated to stick to your program. For me, that involves an end goal beyond health, like a race. For others, it is stress reduction or time alone. And I’ll be honest: one thing that motivates me is cute work-out clothes. It may be shallow, but I’m more apt to go to a tough Vinyasa class or long training run (ok, run/walk) if I’ve got something to wear that’s fun to look at (like my new, fabulous Athleta Retreat Chaturanga tights).

Multi-task. In an ideal world, everyone would focus completely on their workout, listening only to the sound of their breathing. In the real world, it’s not so easy. I have listened to and responded to emails, dictated blog posts, and listened to conference calls on walks. My brother-in-law listens to podcasts when he runs. My mom likes to call family members and friends to catch up during her walks. If you are running low on time, multi-tasking can be a great way to squeeze in some exercise.

Readers, how do you fit in exercise on business trips?

This post includes affiliate links. Thanks for your support!


  1. Curious if any readers have used the New Balance workout attire rental option offered at many Westins? I’d definitely bring my own clothes but I’m intrigued by the idea of paying $5 for a pair of shoes since saving suitcase space is the #1 reason I won’t run on a business trip. That said, sharing shoes sounds pretty yucky so I wonder if anyone’s using it.
    That said, when I do manage to work out it’s either because I’ve crammed my lightest weight running shoes into my bag or because I’ll do Pinterest-friendly body weight workouts in my room using a towel as a floor mat.

  2. I think there are some undisclosed referral links in this post.

    I am staying at a Westin this weekend and plan on trying out their $5 rental program for athletic gear.

  3. I use Google Maps and Yelp to find yoga/pilates studios near my hotel. I usually bring my lightweight travel yoga mat (more like a yoga towel, really), but most places will let you borrow or rent a yoga mat. I also take advantage of the free guest passes offered by the big chain gyms to take indoor cycling/kickboxing classes. Most of my business travel has been to cities, so these are usually convenient and cheap options for getting a workout in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.