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Working Out on Vacation – Gym Free

June 17th, 2010

Summer is upon us! Hopefully your summer will be filled with trips, parties, and quality time with the family.  It’s an exciting time of year.  One drawback to summer is all of the fun activities associated with it produce a hectic schedule.  Hectic schedules are notorious for foiling even the best intentions in regard to fitness.  Many times when we’re on the go, it’s difficult to find a workout facility. Over the next few weeks, I’ll offer some creative solutions to help you fit exercise into your summer schedule.

A gym is always at hand with my suitcase workout!

The exercise routine below is a full body cardio – resistance workout utilizing only body weight and luggage.  I’m certain it will get your heart pumping and keep your body toned while traveling.
Adjust your luggage to a manageable weight by adding or removing articles.
Perform each exercise in the circuit below for 45 seconds.
Cycle through each exercise, then repeat.
If you’re up to it, perform the entire circuit three times.
Performing three times should take approximately 30 minutes.

Happy Travels,


Forward Raise

  • Begin with arms slightly forward of the torso while holding the upper handle of suitcase with a slight bend in the elbows
  • Lift both arms forward away from the body
  • Raise arms to a position parallel to the floor
  • Return to start position and repeat


  • Hold suitcase in front of the body
  • Your feet should be just a little wider than shoulder width
  • Lower your body weight to a position where your thighs are parallel with the ground (This motion should feel as if you are sitting into a chair)
  • Keeping both feet firmly planted on the floor push your body up away from the floor
  • Be sure not to lock the knees at the top of the motion and always keep your knees behind the toes
  • Repeat motion

One Arm Bent Over Row

  • Begin with right knee and right hand on a bench or chair
  • Left arm is hanging directly below shoulder holding suitcase with slight bend in elbow
  • Pull left arm up to a position where the elbow is higher than the torso
  • Left hand should be even with left hip
  • Return to start position and repeat
  • Repeat on opposite side

Upright Row

  • Hold handle of suitcase with both hands
  • Pull hands up along chest to a point where the elbows are slightly higher than the shoulders
  • Return to start position and repeat


  • Hold suitcase in front of the body
  • Begin with the left leg forward and the right leg behind
  • Lower your weight between your knees
  • The right heel will raise off of the floor
  • You should focus the resistance and your weight on the front leg
  • Continue to lower to a position where your front and back knees are at a 90 degree angle
  • Begin to raise the weight before your right knee hits the floor
  • Return to start position and repeat
  • Don’t forget to do the opposite side

Pec Squeeze

  • Hold suitcase in front of the body with just a slight bend in the knees
  • Squeeze hands against the sides of the suitcase with an isometric contraction
  • There is no movement, however you are contracting your chest muscles against a fixed object  (The suitcase)
  • Squeeze and release up to 20 times and you will feel muscle fatigue in your chest

Shoulder Press

  • Begin with hands holding suitcase in front of the body
  • Elbows should be at a 90 degree angle
  • Push hands and suitcase over the head
  • Leave a slight bend in the elbows at the top of the motion
  • Return to start position and repeat

Bicep Curl

  • Start holding suitcase in one hand.  Palm should be facing down
  • Elbows and knees should be slightly bent
  • While keeping palm facing down, pull hand upward toward the shoulders
  • It is very important to keep the elbow tight against the body to prevent using shoulder muscles
  • Return to start position and repeat
  • Repeat on opposite side

Jim Bompensa has been a health club owner and manager, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and nutrition specialist for the nearly 15 years. He is currently the owner/operator of Body Physics Fitness Center in Haddonfield, NJ. Jim has appeared and contributed on ABC and NBC in Philadelphia, PA as well as Designing Spaces on TLC.

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