CrossFit on the Road

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In the modern world in which we live, many of us are required to travel for our jobs, and we often travel for personal vacation.  We have probably all experienced, first-hand, the problem of finding a way to continue this crazy thing we have grown to love called CrossFit without our local CrossFit box.  As you probably know, hotel fitness centers are not CrossFit friendly.  They are usually extremely small with the typical treadmill (or two), a stationary bike, an elliptical machine, and occasionally you may find some type of cable machine for bicep curls and tricep extensions.  So, what do you do when faced with this situation while on the road?  Your options are numerous.

Getting a good CrossFit workout on the road is not actually as difficult as you might think.  Only a few things are necessary to make it happen.  Desire is number one.  If you have the desire, then the remaining factors (finding a workspace, setting aside some time, and improvising with equipment limitations) will come with ease.  Let’s assume as CrossFitters that the desire is a given.  Next, we have to find a place to workout.  The hotel fitness center, if it exists, is an option.  However, many workouts can be done in your hotel room or outside in the parking lot.  Local parks also make sufficient workout areas when the weather is nice.  What about time?  The time variable is easy to overcome.  10-20 minutes is sufficient for squeezing in a decent travel WOD.  Simply cut out 10-20 minutes of television time or set your alarm 10-20 minutes early and you have it.  Equipment limitations can be defeated with some imagination.  Hotel chairs make good dip stations.  They can also be used to anchor your feet while doing sit-ups.  That nice little fold out luggage rack stowed in the closet can be used for dips as well.  Improvise and be creative with your surroundings. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish.  Truth is that many WODs can be done without any equipment.  For an extensive list of body weight WODs suitable for travel, click here.

Now, that we’ve talked a little about the necessities, let’s hit on some luxuries that are nice to have but not totally necessary. for CrossFit workouts on the road.  A few things that come to mind are a stopwatch (of any type), jump rope, pull-up station, and maybe a kettlebell or dumbbell.  The stopwatch and jump rope are easy.  Each can be purchased at Wal-Mart, Target, or any other retail store very inexpensively. They can be easily packed in your luggage while consuming little space.  Your cell phone also likely has a stopwatch function. However, it’s not easy to find a suitable pull-up station at hotels.  Some common things that can serve as a modified pull-up station are fences, treadmills, and low hanging tree limbs.  Again, be creative.  If you are lucky, you can find a pull-up bar or something to serve as one at a local park. Look for monkey bars or something similar that kids might play on, and then kick them off of it.  Okay, packing a kettlebell or dumbbell is not exactly feasible if you are traveling via airplane.  However, if you are going on a vacation or a short business trip via car, then throwing a kettlebell or dumbbell in the trunk is not a big deal.

Another great option is to search for local CrossFit affiliates in the area.  Most affiliates allow experienced CrossFitters to drop-in for a small fee of $10-20.  CrossFit Impulse encourages you to drop-in with other affiliates because it allows you to see how other affiliates conduct classes and who knows, you could learn something to bring back to share with your CrossFit friends at home.  If you can’t find a destination CrossFit affiliate, then a “globo gym” lurks in almost every town.  Some gyms have special rates for guests of local hotels. Ask your hotel staff about this. Going to a “globo gym” is not the end of the world.  At least you have access to weights for strength training, probably some dumbbells, and maybe a pull-up bar.  However, be careful doing anything outside the norm in a globo gym.  Some CrossFitters have been known to accidentally kick people in the face while mounting the wall for a handstand pushup at a “globo gym.”

In summary, if you have the will to continue CrossFitting when on travel, there are many ways to satisfy it.  Depending on the length of your stay at your destination and time availability, simply performing a few body weight WODs from the list provided may be the most convenient solution.  However, if you are traveling for a week or more, it would be a great experience to research the local area for CrossFit affiliates and drop-in for a few WODs.  If no CrossFit affiliate exists within a reasonable distance, you can ask the hotel staff about their specials with local “globo gyms”.  You will probably have better luck asking about local gyms minus the “globo” adjective.  Remember, be creative.  Try taking the luggage rack out in the parking lot for dips and maybe do some handstand pushups against a large portable storage container.  You’ll be amused at the looks you get.

11 thoughts on “CrossFit on the Road

  1. Nice article, David. Reminds me of some interesting WODs in Niceville, Florida.

    1. Thanks. It does bring back some good memories of doing some travel WODs together.

  2. Good word. With today’s exercise equipment and accessories, there is no excuse to go on travel, eat a ton, and sit on your ass when in your room. Interesting to see how extreme people can take fitness while on travel.

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  4. My brother is in the Army and to maintain fitness when he travels he suggested looking up nearby elementary schools with playgrounds (Google Maps Satellite view is helpful). Playgrounds usually have monkey bars and jungle gym equipment that can be used for a variety of make-shift WOD elements (pull-ups, incline/decline push-ups, ring dips, step-ups, sprints, obstacle courses, etc). This also gives you a place to go, which can help put you in the mindset for a WOD the way travelling to CFI does.

    Obviously this is only applicable for evening workouts or on the weekend when school isn’t in session. You don’t want to be the creep on the playground showing up the kids with your kipping pull-up.

    1. Melissa,

      Playgrounds are an awesome place for Crossfit wods. Before moving here, I worked out for over a year at a middle school playground and parking lot, on the weekends and during the week after school let out. The school was cool with it, or at least never ask me to leave, anyways. We used the bleachers for box jumps, they had a pullup bar, a track for running, a big brick wall for wall balls, plenty of open area for walking lunges, ect. We even hung a set of rings on football goal post to do muscle ups on. Was a good time!

  5. That sounds awesome. I wish everywhere was as welcoming as those playgrounds. I contacted the City of Madison to see if we could use their stadium with a 400m track and bleachers for makeshift WODs. They said it would be impossible because of keys to open it up, liability, etc.

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