Fitness on the Road

Keys to Maintaining Your Client’s Fitness During Hectic Business Travel

by Marcey Rader


As a Lifestyle Designer specializing in business travelers and a former ultra-endurance athlete who did two Ironman Triathlons the same year I traveled for 40 weeks, I can tell you first-hand that business travel isn’t part of your job. It’s a lifestyle.

Business travel can make it tough to stay healthy because conditions aren’t always ideal. The hotel fitness center, if one even exists, is often cramped, humid, crowded and not very clean. For some of your female clients, the chance of seeing their own client or boss in the fitness center at 5:30 a.m. with their hair in a clip, parts bouncing and a no-makeup face is nothing short of horrifying.

Consider the run you scheduled for your client. What if it’s February and dark in a city they aren’t familiar with? Running the stairs might be an option if they are well-lit. In-room workouts can be an alternative as well—if the room is big enough for your 6-foot-4 client who’s trying to do burpees without the guests on the floor below calling the front desk.

Am I giving you reasons for discouraging your clients from exercising? No. I’m sharing the excuses your clients will give you. Regular exercisers are more likely to train on the road, but they are also more liable to get stressed out when they can’t get in a workout, adding to the high stress associated with some business travel. The most important thing is to be flexible and realize that what clients do at home may not be what they do on the road—but they must do something when traveling. They should move at every opportunity they can to counteract the plane, car, all-day seated meetings and nonstop food fest.

When I did triathlons, my coach got frustrated with my weekly travel schedule of two to four days per week. My training involved very careful planning and patience on her part. I swam and rode my bike when I was at home. On the road, I did my strength training, running and yoga. Once, I ran 22 miles on a treadmill without a TV or even an iPod.  I still don’t know how I did it!

Working the Alternatives
As a fitness trainer, you need to give a variety of choices to your clients. Sometimes the hotel fitness center may have an outdated photo posted on the website. It could be down to just one working treadmill and a short stack of weights. It may be filled to capacity and your client won’t have the time to wait in line. Maybe he or she intended to train outside but forgot to pack shoes or didn’t have space  for extra clothes.

Always give your traveling clients at least three workout options:
1. Outdoor workout: This can be a walking meeting, walking at the airport during a layover, or a scenic walk or run from the hotel.
2. In-room workout: Make sure the workout requires no equipment or something lightweight for them to carry or pack. I created a Jetsetter Gym Kit with Rubberbanditz ( It’s 55 pounds of resistance in a 12-ounce bag. Resistance bands can be used in a parking lot or in a room. Body weight workouts are great and a towel can easily be used for a mat.
3. Gym workout: These should take on a minimalist approach, focusing on free weights, plyometrics and body weight. Don’t count on doing heavy weight workouts, always getting a free treadmill, or having a lot of room for activities like side shuffles.

Creating Motivation
At a minimum, explain to your client the effects of sitting too much and how their 30 to 45 minutes in the gym doesn’t make up for all the time on their rear. They need to move as much as they can at the airport, even finding an empty gate for triceps dips and chair push-ups. At their hotel, they should try to stand while they work, using a counter or a portable standing desk. In the car, they could even do isometrics at stoplights, squeezing in on the steering wheel at different angles.

Light Gear
Pack a tennis ball for self-myofascial release. This is nice to have at the end of the day to roll different parts of the body while  winding down. 

Super light and easy to pack, a dry bag can be filled with water in the hotel room and used the same as a sandbag. When finished, hang inside out in the shower and pack the next day.

Bring along a collapsible hoop for parking lot workouts, while watching TV or reading. I have taken mine with me on overseas trips to hoop in parks or in my room. It takes some practice to get to the point you can keep it going, but I used to watch an entire episode of The Sopranos without dropping it once.

Preplanned Suggestions
I have 5- to 15-minute workouts on my YouTube channel specifically for people in a tight space with little to no equipment. Make videos for the road or point your traveling clients to a YouTube channel with a certified instructor. It’s best to guide them since there are so many videos out there with poor form by nonprofessionals. A few channels I like specifically are to choose videos by length, style and level; for short workouts, many of which are body weight; and the Daily Burn, a subscription service with plenty of classes to choose from.

When you do give your clients a routine, make sure that the intense workouts aren’t scheduled on a high travel day. One of the worst things after a long flight plus car travel is to do a high-intensity workout because the muscles have been stiff for so long, it can possibly cause injury. Stick with a lighter workout on these days.

As an upsell, you could train the client via Google Hangouts or Skype in their hotel room. A downside is that their schedule may change at the last minute and you’re left hanging out on the other end wondering where they are.

Bottom Line
Don’t let your clients turn excuses into reasons. Both trainer and client need to be flexible and have several options available. Super-bottom line? Just move.   AF

Meet our experts

AFM-Author-Rader Marcey Rader, is a Lifestyle Designer, speaker, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Integrative Nutrition Certified Health Coach and Certified International Health Coach.

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