please advise

Ask Chris Black: What Do You Use to Work Out While Traveling?

Photo: Chris Chang

If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? Regular readers of the Strategist will know that we’ve previously turned to resident Cool Guy Chris Black (he’s a partner at brand consultancy Public Announcement) to help us answer both of those questions. For more of Chris’s advice, he’s now answering reader questions for us in a regular column. If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, drop us an email with the subject line “Ask Chris” at

What are the keys to staying on a fitness regimen when traveling? What products should I get to make sure I don’t fall off the wagon when out of town? And what to do about sweaty clothes?

First of all, avoid carbs and dairy. I just returned from a monthlong jaunt through multiple European countries, and not indulging feels better than a daily fresh baguette tastes! And take your probiotics and digestive enzymes. If your hotel doesn’t have a dark closet-sized room full of dated Technogym equipment, stacks of unused towels, and three sad apples in a bowl next to a water cooler, then it is up to you to figure something out.

Definitely pack a heavy resistance band. They are super-versatile and take up no space. They work like weights — our muscles contract to generate force to stabilize and control the desired movement. These are most popular for squats and other lower body moves, but they can be used for rows and mountain climbers, too.

Degol Skipping Rope

The other thing I would suggest is a good jump rope. It’s a great way to get cardio in, wherever you are in the world. This one is superlight, and the grips feel nice in your hand. I also should recommend ClassPass. After a very weird workout at a vegan metal powerlifting gym in Berlin, I was … desperate for boutique fitness, and ClassPass saved my life. It is cheaper than most overpriced gym day passes and is all done by geographic location. HIIT, yoga, barre, spinning, it’s all there. No days off!

Running is the perfect way to discover any city. I just got some Hoka One One Clifton 6s, and they came very in handy on a scorching hot day in Kalamata when I just had to get five miles in. I was always wary of the chunky cushioned soles, but they’re working for me. The sneakers take up a little more room in my suitcase than I would like, but it’s worth it for a comfortable ride!

For the sweaty clothes, bring a bag to keep them all in. These Patagonia ripstop cubes are a perfect way to partition your dirty Dri-Fit. They keep everything dry, and the smell won’t escape onto your Marni!

I need a good-looking desk chair that won’t hurt my back (ideally for around $350). Help!

The only desk chair I can recommend is the Herman Miller Aeron Chair. It is the Ferrari of desk chairs. The patented Kinemat tilt mechanism lets your neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles pivot naturally. It’s also perforated, so you keep cool even when your boss is yelling at you from one cubicle over. They are very easy to find refurbished (like this model, which Amazon promises looks and works like new, and backs with a 90-day warranty). And even though a refurbished model will still cost little more than your allotted budget, it’s far less than a new chair’s price tag of $1,275. Plus: You cannot put a price on productivity, or your health!

I have had approximately five Dopp kits in as many years because I can’t find one that checks all of the boxes, and I easily get sick of them. Can you recommend some that I actually might want (and will hold up) forever?

The Dopp kitt, or wash bag, is an excellent opportunity for a subtle designer flex. Few will probably see it, but when they do, they should be impressed.

If you need something simple, you can’t go wrong with brown leather from Filson. The branding is understated, and the Dopp kit will age beautifully.

For those willing to invest more in a Dopp kit, Prada’s classic black nylon one would be perfect — very durable, chic, and easy to clean. It has two compartments, which I find helpful for organization. [Editor’s note: Beauty consultant David Pirrotta also recommended this as one of the best Dopp kits for guys.]

If the above are too simple, go wild and crazy with this Burberry-check Dopp kit, which you can leave out on the counter to let whomever you share a hotel room with know that you have Parklife on vinyl at home.

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Ask Chris: What Do You Use to Work Out While Traveling?