As a freelance writer, I travel a lot for work—which leaves me with a packed schedule that gives me little time to take a class or hit the hotel gym. When I'm not sleeping, most of my downtime is spent at the airport. Instead of continuing to do nothing before boarding, during layovers, or while I’m waiting for my bags, I decided to figure out creative ways to squeeze in workouts on the go.
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It was definitely weird at first. I’m that kind of person who races to the back of the class because I get self-conscious when people watch me sweat, so you can imagine why the airport wouldn’t be my go-to place for a full-on fitness routine. But I eventually had to get over myself because I’d go months at a time traveling weekly.
To come up with a workout plan of my own that made sense for me at the airport, I naturally looked to Instagram for help. My two favorite finds were fitness star Kaisa Keranen’s easy-to-follow workouts right at the terminal and mega yogi Caitlin Turner’s inspiring moves before her flight.
For more ideas, I reached out to Pure Barre master trainer and studio owner Sami Sweeny along with Peter Lee Thomas (Halle Berry's trainer). Here, they share their tips and tricks to bring you to that next level of health before takeoff.
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Take advantage of seating areas
“Sitting at an airport can be a pain, [so] make the most of your surroundings by incorporating chairs and benches into your workout,” Thomas tells Health. “I like to do reverse crunches on whatever I was sitting on and several sets of pushups.”
Sweeny is on the same page. “There are countless bodyweight, equipment-free movements you can do while waiting for your flight,” she tells Health. “Go for 30-second tricep dips with your hands on a chair to one-minute wall sits with calf raises."
And if you're waiting at a lonely gate without many people around to potentially disturb, consider pulling a Sia Cooper from Diaryofafitmommy.com and stealing her pre-flight lower-body moves, above.
Do lunges on the moving walkway
The people mover that makes it easy to traverse miles of airport terminal space can also be an effective substitute for a track or treadmill. Witness Keranen doing high-knee exercise on the moving walk below. Just make sure you don’t run into anybody.
Lay out a yoga mat on the terminal floor
Nothing zaps stress and revives your energy like yoga, so feel free to go to an empty space and unroll a mat. (If you're mat-less, lay out a coat or jacket on the floor—or do what I'm doing below at the airport in Richmond, Virginia and work it in a waiting area chair.)
The Yoga Poses app makes things easy with video tutorials of 250 poses along with modified positions for beginners, so you won’t feel like you’re totally in the dark when taking on a rather complicated practice alone.
Asana Rebel is another alternative that transforms the yoga experience into something more active, and it’s guaranteed to work up a big sweat. There are also quick mini sessions on the app if you don’t have much time to spare.
Scout out an airport yoga studio
If DIY yoga isn't your thing, check to see if the airport you're stuck in has an airport yoga studio. According to Yoga Journal, an increasing number of airports internationally and in the U.S. are offering designated areas for yoga, including airports in San Francisco, Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Heathrow in London.
Yoga on the Fly, a company that offers travel-friendly yoga and meditation gear in airports, has opened up a private studio with classes at the Denver airport and has plans to launch other in-airport spaces this year.
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Put these in your carry-on
Though it’s best to not add any more items into your suitcase, Sweeny and Thomas both agree resistance bands are fitness gear worth having. “They’re versatile, lightweight, portable, and great for strength training and stretching,” Sweeny says. “You can use the resistance bands in place of weights for the upper and lower body, and even core work.”
So break them out in an empty area near the gate or in a yoga room, if the airport you're heading to has one. It’s basically an easy way to make your workouts more challenging. With a resistance band, you’ll be able to do everything from bicep curls to tricep extensions. “For the lower body, you simply need to place the band around your thighs and perform squats, lunges, or plyometric movements,” Sweeny adds.