Victor and I are fitness junkies, so in between climbing peaks, staying active has been a central part of our travel. We are better travel companions for one another and more energized observers of culture when we’ve spiked our endorphins and stretched our muscles.
For the first month of our gap year, I kept my beloved Classpass subscription which allowed me to explore fitness studios like Saints and Stars in Amsterdam. Classpass operates in many international cities, so if that’s your fitness platform, check if it works where you are going. When we left for Asia, I cut myself off from Classpass, and we immersed ourselves in the world of local gyms!
Gym rats are a global tribe, and we have felt a connection with the fellow fitness fanatics we’ve encountered on our journeys. (For more on the tribes we’ve encountered around the world, see Victor’s post here.) We have observed gym-goers throughout the world, and have taken pleasure in this window into local life. Here are some of our favorite workout spots in the countries we’ve visited:
Gyms Around the Globe
Flash Gym: Istanbul, Turkey
- Upstairs off the main shopping street of Istiklal Cd. (between Galata and Taksim Square)
- This place is a bit run-down, but has everything you need for a solid workout.
- Vibe was all local
- Cost: Around $5 USD
Big Muscle Man: Luang Prabang, Laos
- Posters of muscle-bound lifters from the 1980s abound
- Towels are provided
- Much of the cardio equipment is busted
- The weights section of this place is outdoor, but shaded–great for people-watching and fresh air
- Cost: Around $3 USD
Interfitness: Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Even at 8:00pm on a Friday night this place is bumping with a mix of locals, ex-pats, and tourists
- Friendly trainers
- Strong equipment
- Has a sauna
- Indoor with solid A/C
- Cost: $5 USD
Cantya Hotel: Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia
- We tried to go to a different gym and found it closed. So, we decided to run home, even though we were inappropriately dressed for the Muslim culture and dripping from the sweltering heat. We passed this hotel, and when we saw they advertised a gym, we asked if we could purchase a day pass. What luck!
- One room with everything you need
- Light A/C, but big doors that open out to the pool patio
- We loved watching a badass woman in hijab working it on the squat rack here.
- Cost: $2USD
Holiday Fitness: Gili Air, Indonesia
- Located just beyond H2O Yoga Center, we were thrilled to have this one-room gym to kick our butts into shape during our otherwise relaxing vacation
- Functional treadmills and a wide variety of lifting machines
- Indoors with A/C
- Cost: $3.50USD
Loka: Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia
- Located right in the heart of town, this place is a one-room outdoor gym
- Great for balancing out your body after a heavy morning of surfing
- Offers a couple HIIT classes a week
- Shaded from the sun and has a big fan
- Cost: $7USD ($11 for a drop-in class)
Ubud Fitness: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
- Spacious double-floor gym with a racketball court, Zumba classes, and a cafe
- Great locker rooms with showers
- Workout and shower towels are provided
- Indoor, perfect A/C
- Cost: $6USD
Queenstown Gym: Queenstown, New Zealand
- Located above Smith’s Craft Beer House (which we also recommend)
- New equipment spread across 2 rooms, and clean, spacious locker rooms with showers
- Offers a couple classes a day
- Cost: Included in the price of your stay at many local hotels (like SwissBelsuites Pounamu), but otherwise, around $16USD
Next Gen Health and Lifestyle Clun: Aukland, New Zealand
- Fantastic gym–brand new equipment in a sprawling space, a cafe on the first floor, and an outdoor pool on the third
- Bonus: This is the fitness center attached to the Aukland Open tennis tournament. Victor randomly got to ride the stationary bike next to Serena Williams during one of our workouts, and we could watch her warm up from the second floor of the gym!
- Cost: Included in the price of our stay at Quest Carlaw Serviced Apartments
How To Stay Fit In a Tiny Hotel Room
In addition to visiting local gyms, we are unabashed about turning our hotel room into a fitness center when the need arises. We waited out a typhoon in Japan by moving aside the tatami mats, and doing multiple sessions of yoga and meditation. Below are some of our favorite tricks for staying fit on the road:
- Ab Ripper X: We have memorized this awesome, quick core workout. Checkout the video here.
- Jumprope: We haven’t used this as much as we’d like because it requires a bit more room than our other fitness toys, but it is a great cardio boost, and such a light tool to carry in your backpack. Jumping rope is an easy way to spike your heart rate and tone your calves.
- Travel yoga mat: We picked this up halfway through our journey, and have loved how it instantly creates the space for yoga and meditation wherever we go.
- Resistance bands: Great for stretching out tight muscles after a hike, and can also be used for bicep curls and other arm-strengthening moves.