Hotel gyms can be very hit or miss.
Admittedly, most are miss.
However, even a bad hotel gym isn’t an excuse for slacking while you’re on the road. I lived in hotels for years and always managed to have excellent hotel CrossFit workouts.
With a little bit of research and the “cheat sheet” of hotel CrossFit workouts included below, you might come home in better shape than when you left!
Table of Contents
Top Hotel CrossFit Workouts – Good Gyms
They say “a good man is hard to find”. While this may be true, I would counter that “a good hotel gym is harder to find”. If you’re lucky enough to be staying somewhere with a gym like this, each morning will likely result in some excellent hotel CrossFit workouts.
Equipment: Concept2 rower, kettlebell
This has been my classic “hangover” or “on the road” workout for years. It packs a punch and will make you sweat out all the bad…stuff, but that minute of rest feels sooo good.
Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates
Just because we have a nice gym doesn’t mean we have a ton of space or the permission to be throwing weights around. With a relatively light barbell, you can still get that DT stimulus without getting thrown out of the joint!
Bar Dip JT
Equipment: Dip bar or gymnastics rings
One of the all-time greatest bodyweight workouts, this is one of those “looks easy enough, but will blow you up” kinds of workouts.
If your hotel gym happens to have rings, you can try the Rx version (switch out the dips for ring dips). If not, use the dip bar (it’ll still be hard…trust me).
Equipment: Concept2 rower, jump rope, air runner
This is a bit of a step up from the previous 3 workouts, but you’ll definitely feel accomplished once you’ve finished it. Starting with the row, you shouldn’t have a problem with other patrons “stealing” your equipment halfway through. Scale down to a “Triple 1” or “Triple 2” if necessary!
Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack, air runner, barbell, bumper plates
You need a treadmill, a pull-up bar, a barbell and some 25s (or a couple of 10s and 5s, for the ladies). The pull-up/thruster combo will ensure some “Fran Lung” occurs, although you’ll get to space it out over a mile run!
Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates
Like DT, this WOD enables you to take your bar and (preferably bumper!) plates, head to a small patch of real estate and do your thing. 180 reps is good volume and even if you (accidentally!) drop the bar a couple of times, the light weight probably won’t turn too many heads.
Equipment: Concept2 rower, dumbbells
This will require a bit of walking room, unless you are okay with spinning around a lot! The row and farmer’s carry will destroy your grip so plan ahead (for the workout itself and for the day’s vacation activities. Zip-lining through the jungle will feel much scarier with a fried grip!)
Light Liquid Cocaine
Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack
Although this is a shorter, sprint workout, both movements require a larger degree of skill and athleticism than others on this list. Go lighter if you think you might end up dropping the bar with this weight.
Top Hotel CrossFit Workouts – Okay Gyms
These gyms are what you will probably find at most mid-range hotels in the United States. You will likely need to scale or adjust weights and/or movements in these hotel CrossFit workouts, but scaling down might be for the best. Plan for vacation week to be a deload week!
Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack
Depending on the pull-up bar you have available, this may turn into “Strict Cindy”. If you’ve been neglecting this CrossFit benchmark, you can finally tackle it on your trip. If you want to learn all about Cindy, check out our deep dive into this “CrossFit Girl”!
If you’d rather try a more challenging benchmark workout, you can always try…
Equipment: Air runner, pull-up bar/rack, weighted vest (optional)
I did Murph once in a small hotel gym in Cozumel. As romantic as it sounds, I can assure you it was REALLY hot (as Mexico in September normally is) and felt more difficult than usual.
(If you’re a little bit older than the “typical” 18-34 year-old athlete, check out our list of Murph age-group “good times to beat”!)
Want a lower-intensity version of Murph while you’re focused on a week of relaxation? Give Mini-Murph or Quarter-Murph a try, instead!
2017 CrossFit Open Workout 1
Equipment: Dumbbell, plyo box
If you want to turn your brain off and get to work, just grab a dumbbell and a box. In all likelihood, a traditional plyo box will not be available so feel free to get creative with a bench or something else you can safely jump on and over. Even if the height isn’t the same….75 burpee box jump overs are 75 burpee box jump overs.
Equipment: Dumbbells, pull-up bar/rack
You could try this with 50s/35s, but then you’d be doing a more difficult version of the thruster with a heavier weight. Why do that to yourself when you’re on vacation?
Check out our deep-dive into Fran strategy!
Equipment: Dumbbells, pull-up bar/rack, air runner
Like the previous workout, you could opt for 50s/35s to be closer to the original “Badger”. However, 90 squat cleans at any weight, 90 pull-ups, and 1½ miles of running will always allow you to live guilt-free for the rest of your vacation day.
Equipment: Air runner, kettlebell, pull-up bar/rack
The famous sprint WOD (which is also one of the best beginner CrossFit workouts) can be completed with a treadmill, pull-up bar, and either a kettlebell or a dumbbell. In less than 20 minutes, you’ll have cardio, muscle endurance, and gymnastics modalities covered for the day!
Equipment: Air runner, dumbbells, pull-up bar/rack
One of the all-time greatest thruster WODs, feel free to go lighter on the dumbbells (50 thrusters starts to add up FAST) and to go Rx on the rower if you have one available. If you opt for the run, you’ll have a stimulus very close to “Helen”.
Dumbbell Barbara Ann
Equipment: Dumbbells, jump rope
The dumbbell weight is a bit lighter than the original barbell weight (135/95), but the high-rep dumbbell sets will start to wear on your grip. We’ll see another modified version of “Barbara” in the next series of workouts.
Top Hotel CrossFit Workouts – Bad Gyms
You can’t always blame the hotel for these gyms.
They may have limited resources and…
Totally blame them for these monstrosities!
Instead of lamenting the hotel gym’s “quality”, consider this an opportunity to work on running and bodyweight exercises. Equate “no weights” with “no challenge” at your own risk with these hotel CrossFit workouts!
Equipment: Jump rope
This workout is as “simple” as it looks. I hope you brought your own jump rope; 500 double-unders with an “off the rack” jump rope will likely lead to some type of cramp or self lashing!
You don’t actually need a gym for this one; I have completed it in my hotel room many times. Just make sure you have something to lay back on for the 200 total sit-ups. Rug burn is a thing!
Equipment: Jump rope, Abmat
Another WOD that will be much easier if you have your own jump rope. If it’s a nice morning and you have a big enough mat, you may as well do this one outside.
On another note, I’m of two minds whether a sub-6:00 Annie is really possible…
Equipment: Air runner
“Bert” has a little bit of a “Murph” feel in some places, although the burpees and lunges make up for the reduced run distance. If you don’t have a ton of space, you can substitute stationary/in-place lunges. I promise you’ll still get a great workout!
Lunge and Jump
Equipment: Plyo box
Do you go all out each round and try to get some extra rest or do you try to pace yourself? Either way, scale to stationary lunges if needed and use a bench or even a stepper if a plyo box isn’t available.
Stop, Drop, and Burpee
Equipment: Air runner
Pretty straightforward but challenging. 35 minutes of straight running and 105 burpees to start your vacation day! If you need a bit more of a challenge, start the workout with 15 burpees (as opposed to waiting until the 5-minute mark to hit the ground for the first time).
Equipment: Ruck or weighted vest, plyo box
The beauty of Chad is that it can be done just about anywhere with a box, bench, or elevated step. The…not beauty of Chad is that one thousand steps are asked of you. Don’t worry if you don’t have a vest or other weighted object; I’ve completed the workout with just my bodyweight and it was MORE than enough for me.
Equipment: Air runner
This is a perfect WOD for even the tiniest and most bare-bone of hotel gyms. Find a bit of space on the wall and crank that treadmill up. If you’re great at handstand push-ups, you may not even need to stop the treadmill at the end of each round. Just make sure you don’t go flying off the end!
Tips to Prepare for Hotel CrossFit Workouts
If you decide to reserve a hotel with a gym in the “bad” category, don’t discount the very real possibility that you just won’t want to work out.
The less-than-stellar gym facility combined with the excitement of being away from home, can kill your hotel CrossFit workout aspirations.
Hotel Gym Research
When you’re deciding where to stay for a family vacation, you probably take a lot of factors into consideration.
Price. Location. Amenities. Tripadvisor reviews.
Tripadvisor (and a few other hotel review websites) can be treasure troves of information for finding out what a hotel’s gym is like.
Even if the hotel’s websites shows something like this:
A lot of times, the picture is very outdated. Or in reality, the gym looks something like this:
Before confirming your reservation, be sure to check out Tripadvisor. Enter the terms “gym” or “fitness” into the search bar to see what people are saying about the space.
You should also take a few minutes to search through the “Traveller” pictures from the gallery section of the review page. These will give you a more realistic idea of what to expect and what types of hotel CrossFit workouts are actually possible.
You don’t want to get duped by the “Management”-submitted pictures when reality is MUCH, much worse.
Bring your own stuff
Depending on where you’re going, how you travel, and what your priorities are, you might consider bringing some of your own equipment along.
A jump rope doesn’t USUALLY raise any red flags in hand luggage (although a security screener at the Merida, Mexico airport confiscated my wife’s jump rope, claiming it could be used as a choking weapon!)
I’ve travelled with my weight belt in hand luggage before, but you might be safer checking yours…JUST in case.
Knowing that you’re likely going to want to procrastinate, it is best to prepare for this situation before you board that plane!
In the weeks or days before your trip, perform one or two of the hotel CrossFit workouts mentioned above in your garage or home gym space. This will familiarize yourself with a more minimalist workout as well as the stimulus you’ll feel when you’re at your hotel.
Knowing that you’ve been through it before (and that it didn’t take very long!) will greatly increase your motivation to tackle it again at the hotel.
Get there early
My dad could be classified in a special category of “weekend warrior”. I refer to him as a “hotel gym warrior”. He has never seen a hotel gym he doesn’t like nor does he neglect the gym while he is on vacation.
The problem is, he doesn’t go to the gym any other day of the year.
The bigger problem: there are a lot of people just like him.
Now, I think it is great when people want to be active any way they can. A vacation workout routine can continue at home!
But if you’re trying to squeeze in your hotel CrossFit workouts at the same time as half the hotel guests…well…there goes that motivation again…
My advice? Get there early!
You may not be the first or only person with this idea, but you’ll beat most of the guest who are rightfully sleeping in during their long vacations.
If you have grand visions of finishing up a day of sight-seeing and heading straight to the gym, I’m sorry to say that a lot of other people have the same idea.
Admittedly, many of them will lose their motivation and will simply head down to the bar instead. Unfortunately, you might be tempted to join them!
Check breakfast time
This tip is related to the last one since early morning hotel CrossFit workouts will all but ensure that you have time to get your workout in, get cleaned up, and head down to breakfast.
Many hotels end breakfast as early as 9 on weekdays so any workout starting after 8 will likely be cutting things very close.
If you are adamant about eating breakfast at the hotel and haven’t made it to the gym beforehand, a morning workout is pretty much out of the cards for you.
The time it would take to properly digest the food before hitting the gym effectively cancels out much of the day.
In this scenario, you’re looking at an evening workout…and we know what will probably happen if you plan one of these!
(hint: it will involve doing something other than your hotel CrossFit workout of the day!)
What Now? It’s Obviously time for a Hotel CrossFit Workout!
Having lived in hotels for years, I have grown accustomed to making hotel gyms of all varieties and degrees of quality work for me. With a little planning, you can enjoy a legitimate workout in a new and interesting environment.
Even if you don’t have an upcoming getaway in the works, give a workout from each of the cateogries mentioned above a try sometime in the near future.
The better you can familiarize yourself with your next trip’s hotel CrossFit workouts, the more likely you are to do some hotel CrossFit workouts!
Staying at an Airbnb or gym-less hotel? No excuses! Try one of the top 30 bodyweight CrossFit workouts!