When it comes to traveling, I’m a pro. I can fit two weeks worth of outfits in a teeny-tiny rolling suitcase, have a locked and loaded arsenal of “travel” toiletries, and am not ashamed to pull on an eye mask for extra zzz’s while on a plane. And while my carry-on may not house plastic gloves, cleaning wipes, and a bevy of moisturizing creams à la supermodel Naomi Campbell’s, it does contain what I consider to be a nonnegotiable travel essential: the Perform Better Mini Band Resistance Loop Exercise Bands.
Not exactly the product you were expecting, right? I know. But the truth is I collect mini bands like kids collect Nintendo Switch games because, in my opinion, you can never have too many. As long as I have these four elastic bands with me, which I typically stuff in a pair of shoes in my suitcase, I know that I will always be able to sneak in a challenging and effective workout or properly warm up my body pre-run. (Being able to use ‘em while wearing a pair of cozy pajamas in my hotel room is totally a bonus.)
For me, being sturdy and strong is a top requirement when it comes to determining whether a mini band is “excellent.” I’ve used so many that were not only loose, which defeats the purpose of this simple training tool, but often roll up, flip or twist mid workout. Aside from being annoying, this is a sure sign that the elastic is, well, flimsy. These Perform Better bands are shorter, wider and thicker than others, which not only ups the tension level from the start, but also helps them stay put once you slip them on. (FYI: They also sell longer bands if you so desire.)
Speaking of resistance, this four-piece set comes in light, medium, heavy, and extra heavy. I’ve often found that with other mini bands, the light is too light and the heavy is damn-near impossible to maneuver. Consider this the Goldilocks pack; they are just right. And the range in resistances makes them extremely versatile. To be honest, the exercises you can do with them are endless (it also comes with an eight-exercise guide), and they work in a range of scenarios, from activating and strengthening muscles to maximizing mobility.
I find them especially effective at waking up my glutes. I, like many of you out there, suffer from lazy-glute syndrome, meaning that my previous status as a desk jockey—as well as someone who currently spends an enormous amount of time sitting on cross-country flights—has left my hip flexors super tight. The result: lengthened, weakened and non-firing glutes. But slipping on one of these bands (I typically stick with the medium-level resistance band) when performing moves such as glute bridges, clamshells, or the exercise I especially love to hate—fire hydrant circles—helps turn mine on instantly. In other words, they actually fulfill their training purpose. If this isn’t a reason to slip them into your suitcase, I don’t know what is.