Fitness Equipment | What My Wife Lets Me Take On Holiday

Planche on Dip Bars

Fitness Equipment to keep you in shape when there isn’t a decent gym.

Time For A Holiday

It’s vacation season already, and most of my training clients are going away this month. Whenever our family go away for the weekend, or a holiday, my wife always lets out a sigh when she sees my “gym bag” of fitness equipment.

Lets face it. There are some pretty lame hotel “gyms” out there. Many of them only have a couple of cardio machines and perhaps one weights machine. They are just filling the tick-box, so they can say that they have a gym in their brochure. Very few of these tiny gyms have a pull-up bar, which is the one thing I use the most when I work out.

What “Normal People” take on Holiday

My wife keeps telling me I’m not normal. 🙂  But the way I think about it is, doing “average” things creates “average” results.

However, you can still get in a good workout on vacation without any fitness equipment at all.  Ladies, you could can easily fit in this 5-10 min holiday workout and then head off to the pool.

For men, looking for a slightly tougher workout, you can try this 15 minute bodyweight routine.

Most people can get by with a skipping rope, a couple of different resistance bands and possibly a yoga mat if you can spare the space — that will enable you to keep fit and get a good workout whilst you’re travelling.

My Fitness Equipment for Calisthenics

Travel fitness equipment in the back of a Land Rover Discovery
The back of my Land Rover Discovery easily swallows up my fitness gear and luggage for our whole family.

Before I go into my travel fitness equipment, I just wanted to add a little caveat — I have a 7 seater Land Rover Discovery 4, which is a large car — so the rear can easy swallow a load of my workout equipment, plus everything we pack for the whole family. However, some of the equipment is very small, and will easily fit in a backpack.

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Essential Fitness Equipment — Workout Routine Sheet

I record all my workouts, and have done since I was a teenager. It’s the only way to know you’re progressing. I always bring a sheet with me, so I have a planned workout. Sometimes I need to adapt the exercises, depending on what muscles I can work with the equipment available.


Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The iPhone can keep you motivated with your favourite exercise music, and if you have a bluetooth wireless heart rate monitor then you can track the calories burned during your workout.

If I can find a kids climbing frame in a park, with a horizontal bar for pull-ups and other bar work, plus something similar to dipping bars, then all I need is my iPhone for a great workout.

Even in the hotel, if I can find a sturdy table (for some body rows), and some chairs for dips and the L-sit, then I can get a reasonable exercise routine.

I use the following two apps for all of my workouts:

Seconds Pro

Seconds Pro app

Seconds Pro is programmable interval timer made by Runloop. I really like the huge numbers, so you can see how long you’ve got. You can also program it to announce the time, and intervals. I use it for my circuit training group exercise classes, as well as my personal workouts.

Pro Metronome

Pro Metronome app
Pro Metronome app

Not exactly a fitness app. Pro Metronome by EUMLab is meant for playing musical instruments, but it is great for timing short static holds. I set the tempo for 60 beats per minute, so that it beeps every second. So if I’m holding a position such as the back lever, skin the cat, human flag, etc,. then I can count the seconds as I train. I find this a lot easier than trying to look at a timer. 

Gymnastics Rings

Ring Dips - Rings Turned Out RTO - Best Chest and Tricep Workout - Muscle - Mass - PecsGymnastics Rings are next on my list. Very portable and light weight. Easy to throw in a rucksack and head off in search of somewhere to rig them up.

I’ve used the rings many times in parks — on swings, outdoor pull up bars, and zip wire supports. You can use them on a tree, if you can find a sturdy enough branch.

There are just so many exercises you can do on the gymnastics rings, I’d run out of space trying to list them all. The ones I do the most are pull ups, back lever, front lever and skin the cat. You can also use them for hanging leg raises.

Low-Level Parallettes

ParallettesWooden parallettes aren’t as compact as the rings. But if it’s raining outside, then the rings are out of the question, so I use the parallettes as much as I can indoors.

They take up the entire space of a hand luggage suitcase. They’re reasonably low to the ground, so I mostly use them for L-sits and also handstand push ups.

You can also use them to do push ups — these are more difficult than the floor version, as you can stretch lower to the ground. If you have wrist pain doing regular push ups, then you may find the parallettes give you no pain at all, as your wrist is in line with your forearm.

Portable Dip Bars or Tall Parallettes

L-sit on portable dipping bars
L-sit on portable dipping bars — a great exercise for the abs and triceps. Atticus Joggers from Gainz Fitness

These are “portable” in that they’re not fixed to the ground, but they are large and heavy. If you’ve got the space in your car, these are great — you won’t be able to get them in a suitcase though. 🙂

Dip bars are another piece of fitness equipment for a “rainy day”, when training outside with the gymnastics rings is out of the question.

The dip bars I use are sturdier than most. You can hang underneath one of them to do body rows; and as I’m fairly short, I can also just about do the front lever and back lever without touching the ground. You can also do dips of course, as that is what they’re meant for.

I prefer to do the planche on these high bars, than the low level parallettes.

Foam Roller

GRID 2.0 Foam Roller
TP GRID 2.0 Foam Roller

I always take a foam roller with me, but I don’t always use it. I just have it on hand, in case I’ve got some tightness or slight cramping after a workout. Mostly I find I need to use it on my upper back, lats just under the armpit, and by the rear deltoid.

I love this GRID 2.0 Foam Roller from TriggerPoint — particularly the different textures, and that you can put your hand inside the cylinder and rotate the roller forward and backward. I bought the large one specifically for my upper back.

So there you have it. That’s the fitness equipment I travel with on holiday for a Calisthenics workout — not exactly minimalist, but I can train as hard as I would do in my private studio gym. Now if only I had something portable that I could do the human flag on — maybe a portable stripper pole…

George D. Choy
Personal Trainer & Calisthenics Instructor
Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom

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Fitness Equipment - What my wife lets me take on holiday

About George D. Choy 92 Articles
Personal Trainer and Calisthenics Instructor at Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, UK. Fit over 45. Dad with 2 energetic kids 😄 Passionate about helping people to keep strong, slim and healthy.

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