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No Special Gear + Minimal Time: The Ideal Travel Workout

When it comes to exercise on the road, I get bogged down easily. Special gear, sneakers, appropriate clothing to sweat in: They can all seem like insurmountable hurdles when I’m packing. Most of the time, I’m traveling carry-on, and I simply don’t have the room for exercise shoes and clothes. And even if I do manage to bring the right gear, I often don’t have time when I’m on the road to get in a full workout.

But about six months ago, I downloaded Seven, a seven-minute workout app that works perfectly without special gear and is well suited to a typical hotel room. The idea of the seven-minute workout got a lot of buzz last year. But it wasn’t until I started using it on trips that I really understood its value for well-intentioned travelers like me, who want to maintain good habits but aren’t part of that exercise-above-all tribe of athletes you see running full-tilt on hotel treadmills at 6 in the morning.

There are a bunch of seven-minute workout apps to choose from; some are a few dollars, others are free. They all follow the same pattern: Do a certain exercise intensely for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, then do a different exercise for 30 seconds, and so on, until seven minutes have passed. The combination of movements (jumping jacks, squats, wall sits, crunches, push-ups, and so on) is meant to work the whole body over the course of the workout.

I opted for Seven, one of the many free versions. It gets a little repetitive as a daily exercise regimen, but for travel, it’s just about perfect. It doesn’t take much time, it requires no special gear beyond a chair with arms and a floor you’re willing to lie on to do crunches, and it gets the blood pumping.

The only downside is that, because I tend to do the workouts early in the morning (shortly after waking up and before showering), I worry about the noise. Sure, the jumping-jacks portion of the workout only lasts 30 seconds, but the entire time, I’m trying to land lightly for fear of waking up a blissfully slumbering downstairs neighbor.

When I pack now, I no longer have that lingering guilt about not lugging workout gear. Instead, I make sure I have my phone and charger, and I know that a quick workout is waiting for me whenever I’ve got seven minutes to spare in my hotel room.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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