Travel News

Workout Options for the Hotel Pool

Swimmer Pool Swim ExerciseSometimes after you get to the hotel and settle in, the last thing you want to do is exercise. Then you see the swimming pool and think maybe you might want to relax instead … with an umbrella drink!

Well, why not combine the two thoughts? Working out and water (not the umbrella drink), that is.

Exercising in a pool has several health benefits, not the least of which is that the buoyancy of water takes away the effects of gravity. This means there is no impact of your body against the ground. Your body is essentially “lighter” and therefore the exercises are easier than on land.

Although this lack of impact is not the best choice for increasing bone density, incorporating it into your exercise program while traveling is a great alternative to land-based programs. It is also perfect if you have arthritis symptoms, which might make joint impact, or the need to grab/hold a dumbbell, painful.

Dan Hogan is the creator of the WAVES program for the American Council on Exercise, which trains instructors in water aerobics and the use of water for strength training. He recommends water exercises if you have back discomfort, or feel stiff from your travels.

“Ideally the pool should be chest to shoulder depth. Start with an easy warm up of jogging/walking around in the pool. Then add some smooth rotational movements such as standing with feet apart, arms extended. Gently sweep your arms right and left in the water while keeping your spine/back long and core muscles engaged,” he says.

Underwater SwimmingFrom there, your water workout can focus on full body movements, or you can focus on specific muscle groups just as you can in the gym. The muscles in your midsection or core will be challenged with all exercises, since you need to keep your body still as you move your arms and/or your legs.

For full-body moves, do jumping jacks, or walk the length of the pool with your arms swinging along your sides in an exaggerated fashion as in cross-country skiing.

To focus more on your legs, simply walk forward and backwards along the length of the pool. To emphasize inner thighs/outer hips more, walk side to side, or criss-cross your legs as you walk. For greater intensity, walk faster, lift your knees up as you walk, or do several laps of each movement pattern.

For upper body moves, try to get water at chest to shoulder depth, or squat down in more shallow water to get to this level. Hold your arms at your sides with thumbs facing forward, and bring them straight forward, up to shoulder height, working the front of your shoulders.

Then, pull them back until your hands are right out to the side at shoulder height (think of the letter “t”), working the back of your shoulders. Next, pull them down to your sides, working your back and chest muscles.

Now, reverse the movement pattern: With your arms at your sides and thumbs out, raise your arms up to shoulder height working your shoulders, bring them forward working chest and shoulders, and then pull them straight down to your sides again, working the back muscles.

Another way to think of this is to make big circles with your straight arms, reversing the direction after 10-20 repetitions.

For simple bicep and tricep focus, hold your arms at your side, with palms forward. Bend you elbows and do a bicep curl. Turn your palms down, and push them back down, working your triceps. You can also go to the end of the pool, put your hands on the outside and pull/push yourself out to target your entire upper body.

You can also add swimming intervals for a longer workout. Do one set of each of the exercises described, then swim a few laps with any style you feel comfortable. Repeat this sequence as often as you can for a great full body workout.

You can also use the water and the pool wall to provide support for many stretching exercises, says Hogan. “Hold the wall with one hand and draw the knee to your chest with the other hand, as this will help to lengthen your back muscles. You can also face the wall and stretch one or both legs behind you, reaching your heel for the floor.”

Now, time for a poolside margarita!

By Annette Lang for

Visit Annette’s Web site at Got a question for fitness expert Dan Hogan? Email him at

Want other ways to work out at your hotel? Check out “Hotel Gyms and Working (Out) Around Them”.

For more ideas on how to stay healthy while on vacation, check out the Health & Fitness section.

Previously by Annette Lang on

Exercise Travel Gadgets

Working Out: Band on the Run

Hotel Gyms & Working (Out) Around Them

Traveling Pain in the Neck… or Shoulders… or Back

Basic Fitness for Travelers on the Road