Photo by Robin McConnell via Flickr Creative Commons

By: Maria Cecilia Vivanco

Caption: Morning Run

Are you studying abroad this semester and looking for ways to stay in shape while overseas? Spacious gyms and ample time might not be available so here are eight workout ideas that can be done with little space or time.


This is an easy one! Come on, you are in a new country. There is so much to see and to explore. The best way to get settled in new surroundings is to walk, get lost, explore new roads, and see what the city has to offer. Don’t get in a rut of taking the bus or train to class or to the local market everyday. Begin your study abroad experience with daily walks to see the city. Stretch out those legs, give them a bit of a burn, and enjoy exploring your city.


This workout takes only one piece of equipment, a pair of running shoes. They should be lightweight and versatile, so they are easy to pack. Find a new trail, run beside a body of water, or fly alongside some mountains. Wake up a few minutes early each morning, get outside and run. It is a great way to start your day that will help you become more  familiar with the area.


Lunges are a great workout for your lower body. They work the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, as well as the upper back, lower legs, and abdominal muscles. There are a variety of different types of lunges one can do. Some different lunges that are great for small spaces are: front, side, back, and the power lunge. Try to do 10 reps of each kind of lunge for a total of four sets. To make this a total body workout add some hand weights. At the bottom of your lunge do a bicep curl. No need to pack or buy a set of hand weights. A couple bottles of water or soup cans make great substitutions.


This effective exercise can be done with almost no space at all and is a lower body exercise that will tone your bottom, legs, and abs. To perform a squat, stand up straight then slowly bend down as if you were going to sit on a chair, then stand up straight again. Try varying the speed of your squat. Do a few slow squats, until you get the hang of it, and then speed them up a bit.  Lowering slowly then raise yourself up with a burst of speed. Try to do as many reps as you can.


If you have enough area to stretch out on the floor you have a enough room to keep your abs in solid shape. Lie with your stomach flat on the floor, do a push up, firm up your ab muscles by pulling them in towards your spine. Alternate the move by resting on your elbows. Try to hold that pose for around 20 seconds.

Mountain Climber

Once you have perfected the plank, add knee bends to the end of the plank. Simply stay in the plank position, then slowly bring one knee into the chest, tightening the abs, then bring the leg back into the plank position and repeat on the other side as if climbing up a mountain. If you want more of a challenge, make this movement quicker. It will definitely get your heart rate up and work your arms, chest, and abs.

Livestrong shows how to do both of these moves:


Jumping rope

This is a wonderful workout to tone the upper and lower body. You don’t even need a rope, or very much room, to perform this exercise. Position your hands like you would if you were actually holding a jump rope and begin to jump. Engage in fast and slow intervals of jumping, switch it up to make it interesting. Possibly try jumping on only one leg, then the other. This is a fantastic exercise for small spaces and  short amounts of time!

Here is a bit of a jump rope cardio workout from Fitness Blender that will make sure to get your heart rate up and burn those calories!

Barre work

This type of workout is typically done on a ballet handrail, but you can substitute the handrail for a chair, counter or tabletop. Barre workouts tone your legs, arms, abs and bottom. This workout will stretch you out to make you feel long and lean. It has been used by many dancers to sculpt and tone. It would be a great exercise to do first thing in the morning, to wake your body up, or right before you go to bed, to stretch you out.

Here is a great Youtube video from Pilates Union which you can follow along to during your workout:

R VanDerWerff

Rachael followed her passion for international education by joining the amazing team in 2012. She is currently working as GoAbroad’s Operations Coordinator. When she is not seeing the world and helping students find the right study abroad program, she is often found in the kitchen, with a glass of wine, creating an exquisite soiree of delicious treats!