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Top 5 pieces of portable fitness equipment

Written by Sophie

Whether you travel a lot and want to be able to do quick workouts in your hotel room, or just don’t want to face the journey to the gym and would rather workout in you own home…these are my top 5 pieces of portable fitness equipment.

1. WorkoutLab cards

I got these at the start of the year and they have been brilliant!  The pack consists of 35 bodyweight exercises so require no other equipment (cutting down excuses).  You can tailor the kind of workout you do, to the way you like to exercise.  I tend to pick 15 exercises (depending on which part of the body I want to focus on that day) and then do each one for 50 seconds with a 10 second break. I  then have a one minute break and do the sequence again for 25 seconds with a 5 second break.  A 20 minute HIIT workout which goes quickly because of the variety!

2. Skipping Rope

When I first bought my skipping rope I tried to do 15 minutes solid skipping…I soon learnt that this wasn’t possible.  Now I always try and tag on at least 5 minutes skipping to any workout I do at home or when travelling.  It gets your heart rate up, requires a level of concentration and the rewarding feeling increases as you improve!  They are light and easy to take anywhere with you too, which means no excuses when on holiday.  I tend to do 12-16 rounds of 20 seconds skipping and 10 seconds break.  When I choose to challenge myself a bit more, I count the number of skips I do within each 20 second slot and try to increase this each time.

3. Resistance Band

Every time I go to a bootcamp, I find another use for the resistance band!  You can do full workout sequences using it for your legs, arms, core…everything.  My three ‘favourites’ (or those that I feel work my body the most) are;

  • Squat and press (standing in the band and pushing your arms up to stretch out the band as you stand up)
  • Bent over row (double up the resistance band under your feet, bend-over with a flat back and pull the band up to touch your elbows)
  • Donkey kicks (down in a ‘table top’ position, hold the band under both hands and loop the other end around one foot and extend this foot to stretch out the band, then repeat with other leg)

If you’re not keen on those – here are 33 more from the Greatist blog: http://greatist.com/fitness/resistance-band-exercises

4. Goggles

Swimming is amazing for you, and if have your own or are on holiday and you’re staying in a hotel with a pool, it is the perfect way to start of the day.  It really does workout the whole body, rids you of water retention if you’ve had a few too many beverages or have just come off a long haul flights. Having good quality goggles really does make a difference, I was given some for my birthday last year and since then I don’t have to stop every 5 minutes to empty them of water or clear fog, I never have a headache from an uncomfortable fit….and the goggle marks are much more manageable!

5. Running backpack

Since buying a decent running backpack, it has given me much more freedom to get out and about without excuses.  I can run home from work without having to plan logistics of where I will leave my things, I can go on day hikes comfortably with have somewhere to store my snacks and water and I can run or cycle to the shops, buy a few bits and then go home.  The added advantage is that the additional weight of the bag and it’s contents makes the workout more effective, so is really a win win situation!  The big difference in having one which is designed for running is the comfort.  I can run with a bag of food shopping or the contents of my handbag very comfortably, making the run much more pleasant….and stops me making excuses.

My recommended purchases:

  • Workout Lab Cards – I’m sure there are brands which do a similar deck, but I been using these and think they’re brilliant so would definitely recommend: http://wlshop.co/collections/exercise-yoga-cards/products/exercise-cards
  • Skipping Rope – I started with a wooden-handled Sweaty Betty one, but it was a bit heavy and I couldn’t adjust the length, so I find a lightweight plastic one much better even though it isn’t as pretty: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skipping-rope-jumping-exercise-shipping/dp/B007MB44OI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426997129&sr=8-1&keywords=skipping+rope
  • Resistance Band – I prefer the ones which almost look like a giant elastic band, rather than the ones that have handles on each end: http://www.amazon.co.uk/E-PRANCE-Premium-Latex-Resistance-Level/dp/B00JJI3TJ8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1426997026&sr=8-3&keywords=resistance+band
  • Goggles – these are still going strong a year later: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Speedo-Futura-Biofuse-Polarised-Goggles/dp/B00DEDX3A4/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1426997086&sr=8-7&keywords=speedo+goggles+women
  • Running backpack – this is the one I have, but if you don’t like the look or can’t get hold of it, I would recommend a similar size and then just make sure you try and find some reviews on comfort and weight if you’re buying it online: http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-gregnavarino-Navarino-12-Daypack/dp/B0045TD3JW

Other accessories I find are vital (but don’t necessarily count as fitness equipment):

  • Fitness Tracking App – for obvious reasons…it is a great motivation to track your progress and if you’re competitive you can also log your workouts agains your friends.  I find it’s good for me to see my own improvement, or not in some cases and then realise I need to get out there.
  • Mini-speaker – I find it much easier to exercise when there is music to motivate and distract me!  I have an X-mini which is tiny, charges via your laptop and actually gets quite loud when it’s plugged into your phone/ipod.
  • Exercise Mat – if you’re working out at home, it’s more comfortable to have an exercise mat, and also when I ‘set up’ an area to workout in, I always find it easier to do despite being in my own home.
  • Tennis Ball – this is surprisingly handy for any aches, pains and knots you have from exercising! A bit like the way you use a foam roller, you use your weight to massage the pain with the tennis ball.  I had pains in one of my hips and found that putting the ball between the wall and my hip, pushing my weight onto it and doing what looked like a strange dance really loosened the stiffness and eventually the pain went away!
  • Stairs – this isn’t an accessory but stairs are one of the best (and painful) things to make the most of in your own workout!  You can always find a set of stairs in hotels, parks and your own home so an easy thing to utilise.

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