Face it: you're not lugging a 50kg barbell to Grandma's holiday party. Fortunately, some of the best workout gear fits in a backpack or even a pocket - perfect for travellers or anyone who wants to get a workout wherever they are. These are our favourite fitness items that are portable, light and useful.
TRX Suspension Trainer
We could not properly start this list of travel-friendly gear without tipping our hat to suspension trainers, which are a pair of straps with handles you can hold onto. The Home Gym setup from TRX ($127) includes the straps themselves, a special attachment, and workout guides. Basically, it's like a portable gym that you can set up anywhere. With these, you can transform your typical push-ups to atomic push-ups or lunges to single-leg suspension trainer-assisted lunges.
NeebooFit Resistance Bands
Like suspension trainers, resistance bands help you get a little extra strength training work when the gym isn't an option. There are several kinds of resistance bands: ones with handles, long rubberband-like ones and smaller loops.
We chose the NeebooFit resistance bands ($40.95) because they practically take up zero space in your bag, come with a variety of colours (and thus different resistances), and can encourage you to work on muscle groups that you might neglect in your normal workout routine. Check out this video for exercise ideas that take little time to do and strengthen your hips and glutes, for example.
Manduka eKO SuperLite Rational Travel Yoga Mat
No matter how compact of a burrito you try to make your yoga mat, it's just never compact enough for travel. Enter the Manduka eKO SuperLite Rational travel yoga mat ($65.61). This sweet yoga mat folds flat and easily instead of needing to be rolled up. It's got a lot less cushion, though, making it lightweight for sure, but it does have great grip to prevent both the mat and your hands from slippage. If you need something a bit smaller (and cheaper) these yoga knee pads will set you back under $6.
TriggerPoint Self-Massage Ball
Too much sitting in a plane, car, bus, or train is going to wreak havoc on your body. You could use a tennis ball, but for a special-purpose massage tool look no further than this TriggerPoint massage ball ($19.95). It can get into those little nooks and crannies in your back, pecs, hamstrings, calves, hips, feet, and shoulders for a little extra TLC.
Whether you're accessorizing a new iPhone or are just sympathetic to the annoyance of dangly cords, wireless headphones are an excellent way to bring tunes to a special someone's workout. Besides just being great headphones, the Trekz Titanium ($119) have an open-ear design, so they're a great choice for people who couldn't find a good fit with our previous recommendations.
A Bum Bag With Unicorns On It
Sure, we could recommend a sober and businesslike belt that lets you tuck your phone away while you work out. But what fun is that? SoJourner offers bum bags (AKA 'fanny packs') in a wild array of colours and patterns for just $7.99. We're partial to the unicorns, but maybe you would prefer a sleek red design or a Van Gough-inspired print. Aw, who are we kidding? Go with the unicorns.
Eagle Creek Travelite Towel
It's great to have your own towel at the gym or the pool, but snagging a bath towel from home means you're basically carrying a giant fluffy pillow in your bag. Instead, try a thin, uber-absorbent travel towel like these from Eagle Creek. They're pretty steep at $48, but are made from soft, quick drying fabric that can absorb up to four times its weight in liquid. They also come in an easily compressible mesh travel pouch.
Camelbak Ultra 10 Hydration Pack
A water bottle might be fine for short runs or in-place workouts, but if you're going to be biking or hiking all over creation, you'll need to carry way more water. Hydration packs help you carry what you need, and the Camelbak Ultra 4 ($222) also has pockets for your keys, phone and snacks.
SkillFit Speed & Agility Training Kit
If you'd rather do your workout in a grassy park on a sunny day - bear with me here if you're snowbound - an agility kit lets you set up a fun workout anywhere you have the open space. You can even create a mini obstacle course in your living room. This kit filled with gear from SkillFit ($62.28) packs an agility ladder, cones, pegs and wall chart into an included carry carry bag.
Under Armour Storm Contain Duffel Bag
Your portable gym is going to need a duffel bag and the you let us know that the Under Armour Storm Contain (from $189.88) is one of the best out there. You can wear it like a backpack, you can safely store your laptop inside if you need to, and it's rugged and holds anything. Best of all, it includes dedicated compartments for shoes and dirty laundry.
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