All good things must come to an end. The holidays are over and the road warrior is once again suited up and ready to roll.

Admit it, we often feel a bit sluggish at the beginning of the year, and the weight we have put on from the seasonal binge doesn’t help.

Exercise is not only good for shedding the pounds, it’s also a great way to boost your energy levels and reset your bodily clock. To help you get back in the saddle, we talk to experts about short workout programmes you’ll be able to do at the hotel gym.

Expert panel

Andrew Cox (AC): director of training, Joint Dynamics (

Marc Rimmer (MR): National Academy of Sports Medicine- (NASM) certified personal fitness trainer from Fiji Fitness (

Bridge Hudson (BH): a NASM-certified personal trainer, training manager and full-time instructor from XYZ Indoor Cycling Studio (


You arrive straight off a red-eye flight tired and slightly jetlagged, and need to get energised for the day’s meetings.

AC: Keep things simple unless you are an experienced exerciser with impeccable technique, because fatigue increases the likelihood

of injury.

The Goal

Open the body up from a postural perspective, strengthen that posture and increase circulation by flushing the body with blood that is rich in oxygen, nutrients and feel-good hormones such as serotonin to get your body performing at its best.

The Exercise

Start off by mobilising the body out of the fetal position into a more open posture – try lying back over a big stability ball so you are face up and your spine is passively adopting the shape of the ball. Stretch out until you’re at the end of your range and hold there for about 10 seconds with your arms out to the side and palms to the ceiling (so that you are forming a  “T” shape).

Follow that with a range of motion lunges of your own choice, going forward and backwards while reaching your arms gently overhead each time both of your feet are momentarily stationary and on the ground.

Next, stand in a stride-stance position toward a standing rowing machine. With the fixed point of the pulley set slightly higher than your head grab a cable and row. Keep the weight at about 60 per cent of your maximum capacity (1RM) and do 15 repetitions with a smooth, controlled speed of movement.

Get back on the stability ball and repeat the spinal mobilising for 45 to 60 seconds.

Repeat the row again.

End the exercise with 20 minutes on your favourite piece of cardio equipment. You should set the speed at a level where you can just hold a conversation but are not too out of breath. If you are experienced in cardio exercise, add two or three thirty-second pulses at 80 to 85 per cent of your capacity. Keep it short and intense, then slow down. Repeat.

Finish with some deep diaphragmatic breathing to really oxygenate your body and brain to ensure you’re at your cognitive best for the rest of the day.

Total time spent in the gym should be about 30 minutes.


You’ve just got up, and need some exercise before the working day begins.

AC: This routine is for those who know their way around the gym, and have had enough sleep.

The Goal

Stimulate an anabolic hormone response. Cortisol levels are naturally high in the morning so put them to good use and challenge the body to get stronger and stimulate human growth hormone (HGH) and hopefully even testosterone – the hormone of focus.

The Exercise

Warm up with some multi-directional (multi-planar) lunges. Start slow, being attentive to the quality of the movements, then gradually increase speed of movement to a controlled, fluid-like fast speed.

Range of motion (ROM) is self-selected. Usually as you speed up, slightly reduce ROM so there are no energy leaks or jerky, staccato movements of the spine, hips, knees and ankles.

Use the mirror and do your best to look like an athlete. If you look out of control and no longer fluid, reduce speed and ROM and increase your focus/feel for the movement.

Next, lift heavy things!

We want mechano-overload of the major muscle groups of the body.

Take two warm-up sets at 50 per cent then 65 per cent of your capacity (1RM) with a mid rep range (six to eight with 45 to 60 seconds’ rest in between). Then pump the music and get serious with your work sets! Three to five sets of eight to 10 reps at 80 per cent to 90 per cent of your 1RM with 60 to 90 seconds rest and a drink of water in between sets.

Cool down with a light lift (50 per cent of 1RM) repeat lunges from warm up, then deep diaphragmatic breathing through your nose as you slowly walk to the showers.

If you don’t lift, then go for interval training on the cardio equipment.

Twenty minutes with five to eight 30-second pulses at 90 per cent to 100 per cent of your capacity followed by a two-minute cool-down with jogging or walking.


You have worked in the hotel room all morning, and want to have a workout before lunch with the client.

BH: This is a circuit that you can also do in the afternoon, but going lighter on the weights and higher on the reps.

The Goal

Generate a powerful, confident energy by doing some heavy lifting but with only a few reps, focusing on big power moves. I like to do a big power lift right before dinner.

The Exercise

Start with a light cardio warm up to get the blood pumping – 10 minutes’ run/walk warm up (one-minute interludes), and then five minutes of core warm up.

Start each of the following with two warm up sets of 12 reps each, and then one set with heavy weights to achieve exhaustion in six to eight reps: bench press with dumbbells; front squats with dumbbell; lat pull-down; seated shoulder press with dumbbells; concentration bicep curls; tricep extensions overhead.

End it with step-back lunges with dumbbells.


You want to make good use of some time between afternoon meetings.

MR: Start with a dynamic warm up – four sets of skipping, walking lunges and sprinting with the rowing machine, with each activity lasting one minute.

Then eight rounds of high-intensity tactical training, one minute at a slower pace, and 30 seconds of sprinting.

Do four sets of skipping, push-ups and burpees, each activity lasting one minute. Then two sets of crunches, double leg raises and reverse crunches, each lasting
30 seconds.


You are jetlagged; it’s late at night and you can’t sleep.

BH: Nothing too intense – lighter cardio or a lighter weight circuit – similar to the morning workout but only one to two circuits instead of three. Or you can try a relaxing calming yoga sequence that focuses on long holds in relaxing positions that relieves stress and tension.

MR: For me personally, if I can’t get to sleep I go for a light jog, and always outside as looking at the sights takes my mind of not being able to sleep. My aim is not to workout but rather get me back to sleep. It should be 45 minutes maximum, and I finish hard with a quick blitz lasting around three minutes – sprint for 30 seconds, and then run for 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can end it with maximum burpees in a minute.

Safety tips

  • Brace your core and keep your belly tight when exercising
  • In a plank position, keep your body a straight line
  • Keep your shoulders away from your ears when doing push-ups and presses
  • When doing squats, knees should be behind toes while pointing in the same direction
  • When doing lunges both knees should bend to 90 degrees, and the back heel should be elevated

Fit for the job: hotel gym highlights

If you know what you’re doing, just a few pieces of exercise equipment are all that’s needed to enjoy a full workout. That said, hotel guests may be deterred from exercising by the inconvenience of having to pack workout gear and the potential boredom of hitting the gym alone. With this in mind, some hotels are offering thoughtful amenities and the loan of equipment to give guests a greater incentive to sweat it out.

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

If you are a member of this luxury hotel group’s President’s Club loyalty programme, one of the benefits you can enjoy is having access to loaned gym gear when you are staying at a Fairmont property. Under the Fairmont Fit programme, you can request Reebok workout apparel and footwear, as well as a yoga mat with stretch band, be delivered to your room. The service is free if you are a Premier or Platinum member, otherwise it comes at a small service charge. Clothing includes T-shirt and shorts for men or capris for women.

Westin Hotels and Resorts

This Starwood hotel brand has comprehensive programmes to encourage guests to get fit. In addition to having Westin Workout Fitness Studios, the group offers those who stay at any of the Westin properties the loan of New Balance shoes and clothing from the Service Express department for a nominal fee of US$5. The socks are brand new and guests can keep them. Many Westin properties also provide running maps for three- to five-mile jogs, and in some cases there is even a Run Concierge to run with you. If you prefer to work out in privacy, request the Westin Workout Room that comes equipped with a treadmill or stationary bike, dumbbells fitness DVDs, resistance bands and stability balls.

Sofitel So Bangkok

If you enjoy group exercise classes, then the So Fit facility at Sofitel So Bangkok is the hotel gym of your dreams. There are up to six scheduled classes a day, ranging from “So Fight” and “So Fit Ball” to “So K Dance” and “So Circuit”, in addition to yoga and Pilates. You are also free, of course, to simply make use of the state-of-the-art Technogym equipment.

Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou

Opened last year, this hotel has one of the most decadent spa facilities as well as possibly the most technologically advanced gym in the group. Particularly, the fitness centre here features a Kinesis Wall by Technogym (pictured), which allows for 200 exercises in one spot without the need to trek around the gym in search of the right equipment. This has been made possible by a system of rotating pulleys that allows 360 degrees of fluid movements. Unlike conventional resistance-exercise machines that use weights, the technology induces a smooth and gradual increase and decrease of pulling force, which means that it is safer to use.

The clear handgrip is magnetic and can be attached to the pivots on the arms when not in use – so there’s no risk of knocking your head on dangling handles. The resistance level is controlled by a touch panel, making it easy to adjust.

Certain Mandarin Oriental properties lend full gym gear to guests, including the Hong Kong flagship.

Kerry Hotel, Pudong, Shanghai

Guests at this hotel have access to the 8,000sqm members-only Kerry Sports, which is the largest of its kind in Shanghai. This 24-hour facility is divided into many zones, with 80 items of advanced exercise equipment on offer. The most noteworthy is the “Iron Man” area for cardio, functional and personal training as well as strength circuit training. You can complete a triathlon cycle with the equipment (including the Vasa kayak and swim trainer bench) without getting wet or venturing outside. There is also an outdoor rooftop garden with jogging track, tennis court, basketball court and an Adventure Zone with a three-level-high fun slide.