I must confess,  I used to be a “gym rat”.  I was not the negative stereotype of a gym rat however.  Oh, you know exactly what I am talking about- the guys and gals that somehow simultaneously grunt like cave people, trying to hold their flex position in the mirror, while taking a selfie.  Nope, not me.  But, I did have some bizarre complex about the gym.  I liked the external motivation of others around, possibly watching me.  It pushed me to work out harder, and sweat more.  The employees recognized me.  They always asked me how training was going for whatever endurance event I had going.  They teased me when I was absent for a few days.  Somehow, I thought that if I wasn’t at the gym, I wasn’t getting a good workout.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Jackie Fit Fly Gal

I am proud to say that I have been pretty much “gym free” for over a year now  (Talk about a money saver!).  I still go to boxing class, and CrossFit on occasion when I am in my training “off season,” (It gets really cold in Chicago, and I hate running/cycling in the cold!)  but otherwise, I have found ways to workout more creatively, without monstrous machines,  employee approval, and the energy of others.  I have learned to rely on myself.  I am glad that I found my way, because it has helped me be creative with fitness while flying. When I want to get a run in, and the weather is bad, or it’s too late, I use the hotel gym, but all of my other workouts while traveling are done in my hotel room, outside, or while exploring.

Ready for the kicker? I bring all my equipment with me, and it all fits in my 22’ suitcase.

Suitcase fitness

Here is my list of must pack, lightweight fitness equipment for travel.


Jump Rope

When I purchased this jump rope, I had not jumped rope in over 15 years.  I recall this day very vividly;  “Oh! This will be FUN!  I think I even remember the rhymes we used to say at recess– Cinderlla, dressed in yellow, went downstairs to– MY LUNGS ARE ON FIRE!” After becoming re-accustomed to it, I can now hold a medium speed skip for a whole long play list.  I have bad runner knees, so I am not a speed jumper, but even a light skip can burn mega calories.  Depending on  your weight, and the speed, and the intensity of your skip, you can burn 300-600 calories an hour!  Jump in your room.  jump by the pool, or even go for a walk and pause to do a few reps every 5 minutes for an interval workout.

travel fitness jumprope

Agility Rope Ladder

I joined a gym class in high-school that was intended for varsity athletes.  I very quickly fell in love with agility ladder days and still enjoy it to this day.  Some athletes use it for speed-work drills, (Google: ‘Agility Karaoke’, ‘Agility Shuffle’, ‘Agility Side-to-Side’, to give you an idea) but you can use it for anything.  I like to think of it as an adult hopscotch game;  hopscotch with hopping, hopscotch with crab walking, hopscotch with squats, hopscotch with plank positions…Get creative!

agility ladder


Resistance Tubing

Resistance bands are pretty darn amazing.  There are a variety of types to choose from.  The one in the photo is a medium resistance (sold in light, medium, or heavy resistance) tube with cushioned foam handles.  Simple latex stretch bands work just as well, and are very inexpensive.  I can feel like Hulk, and get a full body workout with just this single resistance tube.  There are hundreds of easy to find resistance tube/band workouts online, but I will share my favorites in a future post for Fitness Fridays.

resistance tube

Swimsuit & Goggles

Almost every hotel has a pool.  Don’t underestimate the power of a pool workout.  Swimming laps, pool running, doing flutter kicks while holding the wall, and water bicycle crunches are just some of the many easy ways to stay fit in the pool.  Who cares if you look silly?  Strap on your goggles, and be Ryan Lochte for a day (maybe keep your brain though).  It’s fun, feels great, and burns calories.  Just treading water at a moderate pace for an hour burns a minimum of 300 calories (based on weight, and intensity)! Water exercise after a long day of traveling also tends to calm down my body and help me fall asleep easier.


So, if you are thinking to yourself, “I already have a 100% packed suitcase! How can I possibly fit all this stuff, too?”  Take a peek below to see how easy it is to fit all of this equipment and still have room for clothes, 2 pairs of shoes, a massive toiletries bag, and plenty of fitness inspired reading material.

Suitcase packing

Next week, my blog post will be all about ‘Kicking It Up a Notch,’ giving tips and advice to those who have a desire to become fit, but need motivation to get started.  To those already fit fly guys/gals, I will offer a way to improve your fitness, and take it to a higher altitude.

Also– over the next month there will be several exciting give-a-ways on The Flight Attendant Life’s Fit Fly Gal’s Fitness Fridays!

To keep informed, follow me on Instagram: @fitflygal -and/or- ‘Like’ my Facebook page: Fit Fly Gal 

  • Greg

    One question for fitflygal: so if you’re jumping rope in your hotel room and the guest in the room below you doesn’t enjoy all the thumping noise, how does that work out?

    July 5th, 2014 10:28
    • Jacqueline Petzel


      Thanks for the comment! I agree, most hotel guests do not enjoy loud thumping, pumping, and bumping above them when they are trying to get some R&R. As flight crew we are especially conscious of noise. Although at most hotels a light skip is not heard below or in the rooms next door, I suggested to also take your jump rope out by the pool or on your walk if you are doing high intensity rope jumping–as that is when the pounding is heard quite clearly and can irritate guests.

      Thanks again for your comment!

      July 10th, 2014 15:10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *