You are here: Home  »  Archive  »  2014  »  March 2014  »  LifeStyle  » 

LifeStyle » 

No shoes required

Published: 02/03/2014 - Filed under: Home » Archive » 2014 » March 2014 » LifeStyle » Home » Features » Home » Archive » 2014 » March 2014 »

  • Print
  • Send

Frequent traveling can take a toll on your fitness – all those hours of sitting in the lounge, sitting on the plane, sitting at the meeting… and if you still have some motivation left when you get to the hotel, the gym or the pool might be the only solace.

The pool is usually closed at night, but an increasing number of hotel gyms are open round the clock. The problem is, if you want to pack light, a pair of trainers really does not help. Some people wear toe-shoes to the gym, but they provide little protection if you are doing weights.

The solution, it seems, is resistance training that you can do barefooted – either on a yoga mat at the gym or just using a bath towel on the floor of your hotel room.

Exercise videos can provide the extra motivation to work out, but these DVDs vary enormously in quality, so choose carefully. Read on for some recommendations, and routines that you can follow relatively safely.

Side plank with rotation 

The move:

Rest on one elbow and align it with the shoulder on the same side

Keep your hips and knees stacked

Lift hips and the arm further away from the floor to start

Rotate your core

Slide the free arm under your chest while keeping the torso lifted

Rotate back to starting position

Things to note:

When you rotate, try to reach as far as you can while keeping your body lifted

Lift hips high so that the torso is straightened

Turn from the shoulder

Bicycle crunch

The move:

Lie on your back

Put hands by your ears and bring elbows in line with your shoulders

Use the strength of your abs to raise up both your shoulders and feet

Twist your core while lifting and bring one shoulder towards the opposite lifted knee

Repeat on both sides

Things to note:

Keep abs braced to achieve results

Use your abs – not your neck – to lift your upper body


Floor hip extension 

The move:

Begin on all fours with your elbows directly below your shoulders and supporting your upper body

Your knees should be aligned directly below your hips.

Pull your belly button into your spine and stabilize your core muscles

Extend your right leg straight behind you

Keeping your leg straight, lift it up as high as possible without twisting your hips

Pause at the top of the movement

Lower your leg back to the floor

 Complete the desired number of reps and then switch to your left leg

Things to note:

Keep your back flat

Don’t arch

Posterior thigh and calf stretch with towel 

Recommended by Sam Wong from
Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong, China

The move:

Lie on your back on the bed

Bend your legs at the knee but keep both feet on the bed

Raise your right leg from the knee and curl your toes upwards

Wrap a towel around your right foot and use your hands to grasp the towel

Straighten your right leg and use the towel to pull up towards your torso as close as possible

 You will feel a stretch in your posterior thigh and calf muscles

Hold the position for 15-30 seconds

Switch legs and repeat

Things to note:

Maintain regular breathing throughout – do not hold your breath

Movement should be slow and steady – no bouncing

Squats workout 

Recommended by George Sung of Fiji Fitness

The move:

Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart

Lower yourself to a squat by sticking your buttocks out

Squat down to 90 degrees or more for maximum workout

The knees should be right above your feet

The pressure should be on your heels

Slowly stand up again and then repeat

Things to note:

Keep your back straight throughout

You may raise arms up in the squat position for balance

A narrow-stance squat works your quadriceps more

A wide-stance squat works your inner thighs and gluteals more

Turn on the TV

Workout videos sound like an outdated concept, but there are actually new productions worth checking out. Although the bulk of releases are still geared towards women, that’s gradually changing. Here’s our rundown of the latest options, and the best choices for frequent travelers of all fitness levels. 

David Haye’s Box And Tone ($19.66)

The former WBA heavyweight champion hasn’t hired a trainer to front his first fitness DVD – he takes you through the moves himself. Wisely, he steers clear of anything fancy, and sticks to classic training moves that are easily demonstrated. There’s a choice of four workouts: Shadow Boxing, Circuit Training, Conditioning, and Abs and Core. You can use the “create a workout” feature to run them in your chosen combination – saves skipping back to the main menu in-between sections.   

Hotel-room friendly? Yes – the workouts are based on compact, low-impact moves that you could do without trainers.  

Equipment needed None (although boxing gloves might help you feel the part).

Irritation/boredom factor These workouts are repetitive, which could get boring.

Time The workouts range from 16 to 22 minutes, but you’re urged not to skip the warm-up (11 minutes) or cool-down (15 minutes).

Diet plan included? No.

Best for Exercise and boxing beginners, or those who want to minimize knee/ankle impact. Circuit training is pretty tough for intermediate levels.

Insanity ($119.85)

Insanity has cult status in the US and a growing following in the UK. It’s a 60-day program of 10 workout DVDs that you do in a prescribed order, six days a week. Why it’s described as “one step from impossible” becomes clear from the first warm-up. It’s an interval-based program – think explosive suicide jumps, switch kicks, high knees and push-ups, all at super-fast pace. What makes it so challenging is that the “hard” bit of the interval lasts for three minutes, not the usual 60 seconds, followed by a mere 15-second recovery. It’s not cheap but compared to personal training, it’s small change, and gets similar results. You start and finish with a fitness test to mark your progress and there’s no doubt you’ll get lean and toned – if you can hack it.

Hotel-room friendly?  Yes, but perhaps not for the people in the room below.

Equipment needed Trainers, and a towel for mopping up sweat.

Irritation/boredom factor This DVD gets top marks for creating a truly motivating vibe. Unlike most presenters, Shaun T does the workout while he instructs, so he sweats and gets out of breath. He leads a basketball court full of six-packed hipsters, and they go red in the face and get out of breath too.

Time From 40 minutes (Cardio Power and Resistance) to 86 minutes (Max Interval Circuit and Fit Test), with likely the world’s most challenging warm-up, and cool-down.

Diet plan included? Yes. Comes with 70-page Elite Nutrition booklet, a workout calendar and access to an online forum. 

Best for Intermediate and advanced exercisers. If you’re prone to injuries, particularly knee problems, it’s probably not for you.     

Sally Brown

Safety tips

Stretching and simple resistance exercises are generally safe, but it is also easy to use the wrong muscles when doing them. In most cases you just won’t get the supposed results, but in worst-case scenarios you can pull a muscle or injure your joints. Here are some basic safety tips for your reference: 

When doing leaps, land softly by slightly bending your knees

When landing, the balls of the feet should touch down first, followed by the soles and then the heels

Always keep your back straight when doing resistance training – don’t slouch and don’t arch your back

Be focused on using the correct muscles – when you are doing abdominal crunches, get the strength from your abs, not your neck

Don’t shrug when exercising

While you should always push yourself a bit harder, if your posture is starting to go off, be sure to take a break and regain strength before exercising again

If you’re doing boxing moves, remember that joints should stay soft and not be locked, and after throwing a punch or a kick, you should always retract before resuming starting position

Maintain consistent speed in your motions, avoid jerking movements  

By Reggie Ho

Read more about...

Bookmark with:


Login details

To add a comment, please enter your email address and password.

Keep me signed in until I sign out

New users

If you are not already registered with us, please enter your email address and chosen password above, and also complete the details below. Your screen name will be displayed on our website.

Your message


Best of All

Best of All

Business Traveler readers celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Best in Business Travel Awards
Read more »

World Wise

World Wise

Cultural awareness and effective communications for doing business around the world »
Read more »

Presents of mind

Presents of mind

Spotting just the right gift can be a daunting task, so we’ve put a little thought into it for you
Read more »