At home, we’re at the gym an average of 4 times a week (confession: most of the time, that means I’m there twice and my partner six times…). So when we travel, whenever possible, we try to pick a hotel that has a gym. That’s usually easy in four and five star hotels, but those are not always an option when we’re off the beaten track. Sometimes, city hotels also have tiny gyms that basically consist of a few cardio machines and not much else. As a German-British couple we like to be prepared. So one of the things we now frequently travel with is a bag of resistance bands for travelers.
Resistance bands are basically elastic exercise bands, mainly used for strength training as an alternative or addition to weights. They were originally used for rehab, but have become very popular with weight lifters and fitness fans in the last few years. Their advantage is that they are fairly small, don’t take up much storage space and can be used in the home, using things like doors and bed frames as anchor points. Those points also make them perfect for travel!
Benefits of resistance bands for travelers
I tried working out with one of those flat latex bands for a while, but as they’re usually quite stretchy, I didn’t feel like it was making much of a difference and gave up pretty quickly. I’ve given resistance bands another chance when my boyfriend bought a set of tube bands with handles – they’re a lot more convenient to use and the resistance is higher as well, so I actually feel like I’m working out.
We have a set of Bodylastics bands – the “Strong Man Xt Warrior Set”. The name is ridiculous, but the bands are actually really good for a number of reasons:
- The bands have proper handles. They don’t cut into our hands when we exercise, the way some basic elastic bands do. The handles can be hooked off and swapped for ankle straps for leg exercises.
- The bands themselves have various levels of tension and are “stackable”. That means we can hook multiple bands together to increase resistance. This comes in handy as we have very different levels of strength, and need to make the bands work for both of us.
- The bands are camouflage colored with a bit of a military theme. I’m not really a fan of camouflage. But I have to admit it’s come in handy, as the bands have survived numerous outdoor workouts without looking too scruffy.
- There’s a protective sleeve included in the set. You can wrap it around the bands if you’re standing on them in rough terrain or wrapping a band around a tree, for example.
How & where we use our resistance bands
So far, our bands have been on three continents with us and probably gone through 100+ workouts. We’ve used them anywhere from beaches in Ko Samui to city parks in Saigon and hotel rooms in Germany. I’ve found that they can be used in minimal amounts of space. However, sometimes it can be tricky to find a place to hook them onto if you’re doing exercises where you need the bands to be anchored.
The bands come with a door anchor made of thick foam that theoretically works with any door. Some of the hotel doors we’ve had in local guest houses around South East Asia looked rather weak though, so we didn’t want to risk potentially causing damage. In those cases, you have two choices. One, stick to exercises that don’t need an anchor (for example arm exercises where you create resistance by standing on the bands). Or two, partner up with one person acting as anchor while the other person exercised. That part isn’t ideal, but better than nothing, and kind of fun. If there’s no anchor option in your hotel room, your best bet is to go to a local park where you can anchor the bands to benches, trees and other fixed structures.
Finding exercises for resistance bands
I mainly find exercises through the Bodyspace mobile app. Some of the resistance band manufacturers also have exercise libraries on their websites (see Bodylastics’ here, they also have video courses which might be useful for beginners). You can always find tips on Youtube as well.
Note: The image link to Amazon above is an affiliate link. If you buy something through that link, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. I have no relationship with Bodylastics, their bands are just the ones we happened to buy after doing our research & we’re happy with them!