Keeping up with your fitness routine when traveling–whether for business or fun–is difficult. Jet lag, a demanding schedule of meetings or family meals, and not having access to your typical running route or favorite class can all throw you off. Before you know it days have gone by without a good sweat.

But fear not intrepid travelers, there is a workout that I’ve found you can fit into nearly any bit of free time and nearly any amount of space (including cramped Manhattan hotel rooms). Behold the deck of cards workout.

Equipment You’ll Need

  • -Deck of playing cards* (small and lightweight, fits in any bag or your pocket for that matter)
  • -Enough space to comfortably do a push-up


How It Works

Step 1: Assign a different workout to each of the four card suits–spades, diamonds, clubs, and hearts. Write them down on a scrap of paper or type them out on your phone’s note function to consult (or re-use later) if you like. Here’s how I often approach it:

  • -Spades – Squats
  • -Diamonds – Push-ups
  • -Clubs – Sit-ups
  • -Hearts – Jumping Jacks


Step 2: Shuffle your deck well, then place the entire deck face down. Pull the top card from the deck and place it face up next to the rest of the deck.

Every time you pull a card do the number of reps that corresponds to the value of the card of the exercise that corresponds to the suit. For example, if you pull a 5 of spades, you do 5 squats before pulling the next card. If you pull a 10 of hearts, you knock out 10 jumping jacks before pulling the next card. Jack = 11 reps, Queens = 12, Kings = 13, Aces = 14, Jokers = 15.

Step 3: Repeat step 2 until the deck is completely face up (or until you have to jump in the shower and get to that meeting or whatever).


I often change it up by assigning distinct exercises to face cards (the Jacks, Queens, etc.). Here are a couple exercises you can add in to kick it up a notch:

  • -60 second plank or 30 seconds of side plank on each side
  • -100 high knees (running in place with your knees firing up toward your chest, 50 on each side)
  • -50 mountain climbers
  • -Leg lifts (lay down on your back and lift your legs up and down working out your abs)
  • Burpees (of course)


*What If I Don’t Have A Deck of Cards!?

No excuses, there’s an app for this! You didn’t forget your phone did you? Download the free app WOD Deck of Cards which allows you to type in your chosen workouts for each suit and face card and then it will randomly pull cards for you each time you tap the screen.