It’s a challenge to work out when you’re on vacation. My family and I just got back from a week-long vacation in Maui, and it cost more than $5 a day per person to access the gym. So, not only did you need to have the fitness motivation to exercise on vacation, but you also needed the dough to afford it. But, there is compact Group X equipment, small enough to fit in your luggage and travel with you to your destination.
That way, you can get a full body workout by complementing bodyweight exercises with exercises that use such equipment. And, this same equipment is great to use in the group fitness studio with your participants. Especially if you’re used to teaching a format typically with dumbbells, these will be a great change of pace for your students.
Luckily for us, my dad brought along a rubber band that could be tied or untied for exercises. Otherwise, we would have likely been doing body weight lunges on the beach all week to the boys’ chagrin.
Here’s a look at two pieces of Group X equipment great for fitness classes and to tuck in your luggage while traveling.
Group X Equipment #1: Gliding Discs or Gliders
The gliding disc or glider is one of my favorite pieces of equipment, because it adds an extra, unexpected challenge to common moves. The gliders are small, round compact discs that look like soft pancakes. I would recommend tucking two of them in a side pocket of your luggage, since they can get dirty from being on the floor.
When you introduce them in your Group X class, encourage students to place the ball of their foot on the glider and sweep their feet around a little to test them out. They’ll need to put just enough pressure on the ball of their foot to move the glide around without getting stuck. If participants ever feel like they’re sliding out of control, their “brake” is their heel. They’ll need to drop their heel to the floor and then they’ll stop moving.
You can do so much with gliders. You can use these to assist your lunges by adding it to your leg as you slide in and out of each lunge. You can also place them under your hands for push-ups.
I have two favorite exercises I like to do with gliders that are challenging. First, I’ll have folks lay on their backs with their feet flat on the ground, knees pointed towards the ceiling and arms resting at their sides. Place a glider under each heel, and then lift your hips up so that you’re in a supine bridge position. You should be in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders, so hips are very high. Then, slowly push your heels away from your body, so that your legs start to straighten. Go as far out as you can without letting our hips touch the floor. Then, pull your heels towards your booty, bringing your hips as high as you can. You should feel this in your hamstrings (the muscle at the back of your thigh). If you want to modify, you can do one leg at a time.
My other favorite exercise with the gliders are boot camp crawls. So, I’ll ask participants to come into a plank position on their elbows with one glider under the ball of each foot. Then, we’ll crawl on our elbows forward for four counts and backwards for four counts. It’s important to remember to keep your hips down, staying in almost a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. In my Group X class, we’ll go forward and back three times before we rest. If folks want an extra challenge, they can hold a plank between rests.
Group X Equipment #2: Resistance Bands
Resistance bands with handles will easily fit in your luggage, and can often be more comfortable than those without handles. But, all bands are great options for traveling and introducing in a Group X class.
There are different levels of resistance, so select a band that fits your fitness level. Periodically check your band for tears or rips, since you don’t want it to snap on you while you’re exercising.
If you’re using the right resistance, you can do a challenging full body workout with a band with handles. You may need to get creative for some muscle groups.
Either use your feet or your hands to help make the resistance tight enough to work the targeted muscle.
For example, if you want to do tricep extension, you can hold the handle with your palm overhead, facing forward. Then, bring the band behind your back, and grab the band. Be ready to hold the band firmly, so you can feel resistance as you extend your arm from a bent position at the elbow to an extended position.
The more you “choke up” on the band by bringing your hand closer to the handle, the more resistance you’ll have and the harder it will be. If you bring your hand lower on the band, it will get easier.
When you balance your tricep exercises with biceps, you’ll want to hold both handles in your hands and step onto the band with one or both feet. If you need the resistance to be tighter, you can spread your feet apart and/or wrap the band around your hands. If you need to lighten the resistance, you can have just one foot on the band, or you can let go of one handle and just step on the band when you have enough resistance for the bicep on the arm that’s working.
If you choose to bring these pieces with you on vacation and you want a break from planning workouts, a great option is to follow along to a video on YouTube. Type in the equipment you want to use followed by the word workout or exercises and choose a video that seems like a fit.
Not only are these pieces of Group X equipment great to throw in your luggage on vacation, they’re also great to throw into your next Group X lesson plan, if your studio provides that equipment. If not, talk to your director about ordering new equipment. These really are a fun, different way to exercise, and that’s what Group X is all about: keeping exercise interesting and engaging for members.
For more tips, check out the group exercise ideas page.