Courtesy of Activ5
Richelle Szypulski
November 26, 2018
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While I'll be the first to commend anyone who works out while in transit, there are quite a few wrong ways to do it. (Take, for instance, pull-ups on the overhead bin or push-ups in the airplane aisle, in Crocs, no less.) But there's now a much more discreet, and much less ridiculous, way to squeeze in some weight training between takeoff and landing: the Activ5 portable workout device.

Dubbed the "tiny gym in your pocket," the Activ5 is programmed with more than 100 seated and standing isometric workouts to choose from. Some are even designed specifically to do on the plane or in your hotel room — with clever names like "On Bored" and "Raise the Mini Bar," which I personally appreciate. It was named one of our top travel tech essentials earlier this year. And I got the chance to test one out on a recent road trip.

Regardless of whether I'm at home or on the road, I'm much more likely to do a guided workout with a coach or in a class than I am to just head to the gym and wing it. So something like a resistance band is unlikely to leave my suitcase, but the Activ5 gamifies your workout, which I'm into. And it really works, too. The first time I used it, I tried about 30 minutes worth of seated workouts and my abs and triceps were feeling it the next morning.

It was easy to set up both the app and the device, which connect via Bluetooth to both iOS and Android phones. It will ask some basic demographics, give instructions for how to position the device, and then measure your maximum chest press power as you squeeze it between both palms as hard as you can — pretty cool, right?

From there, you can choose exercises by theme or by muscle group and all of the moves are resistance-based. So, you'll place it between your foot and the floor to work your hamstrings and calves or between your knees for inner thighs or between your elbow and opposite palm for shoulder presses. And while you technically could do these exercises without the Activ5 and feel the same burn, it's so much more fun to watch your applied pressure chase the dots on your phone screen like a video game. And you'll get to track your progress over time and assess things like your left and right body strength balance. 

It makes for a pretty solid replacement for your typical strength training regimen (and a memorable gift for fitness-focused travelers).

Activbody Activ5 Portable Gym

Courtesy of Activ5

To buy: amazon.com, $120 (originally $140)

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