10 Things to Love and Hate About Hotel Gyms
Some hotels know exactly what fit travelers are looking for in a place to train and have figured out how to provide an incredible fitness experience. Others have missed the mark by a mile.
One of the first things I do when I check into a hotel is to find the gym, or “fitness center,” as many hotels call them. I'm either incredibly happy or terribly disappointed with what I find. I've found hotel gyms ranging from rooftop workout spaces with amazing views all the way down to closets with a single treadmill. Hotel gyms are diverse and always different, to say the least. This is a major factor for me when choosing where I stay or if I will ever stay somewhere again. Sometimes it's not up to you. If you're traveling for business or grabbing a hotel room last minute on a whim, where you stay is sometimes decided without the gym in mind.
Some hotels know exactly what fit travelers are looking for in a place to train and have figured out how to provide an incredible fitness experience. Others have missed the mark by a mile. Here is my list of five things to hate about hotel gyms and five things to love about them.
5 Things to Hate About Hotel Gyms
1. It's hard to find.
If you go looking for a hotel gym and find yourself doing circles around the building, do not feel like you're alone. It's happened to me before and I'm sure that's the case for many of us. Sometimes there are no signs directing you the right way. Sometimes there's an endless number of signs and it feels like you'll never get there. Either way, the hotel gym can be elusive. The only bright side is that you might have already gotten in enough of a workout by the time you find it, if you ever do.
2. It's always closed.
Few things are more frustrating then checking into your hotel after a long flight, heading right to the gym for a quick workout and having your excitement crushed when you find it closed. Many hotel gyms keep strange hours and will disappoint you by seeming like they're always closed. Don't get discouraged by this. Other options in this case include a bodyweight workout in your hotel room or running sprints outside.
3. There's no space.
A lack of sufficient space in hotel gyms is a common problem. Many are tiny and have little room to do anything other than use the machines. This can be tough for anyone looking to do high intensity interval training, metabolic conditioning, or heavy lifting workouts. Remember to improvise, adapt, and overcome. If you need to take your workout outdoors or back to your hotel room, do that.
4. There are no weights.
Many, many hotel gyms have absolutely no weights. Just a couple of cardio machines. No barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells. This obviously sucks for anyone who likes to lift and is surprisingly common. My go-to solution for this is bodyweight training. I'm a big fan of bodyweight workouts and I try to train without weights for up to a month at a time once or twice a year. Traveling is a good time to do this. Here's a great bodyweight workout to do when you have no access to weights while traveling:
100 Air Squats
5. The weird, creepy person that's there.
I'm not going to say that this is always a guy, but it usually is. Many women find themselves in an uncomfortable situation when they're in the gym with a guy that stares at them or won't stop talking to them. This can be worse in hotel gyms cause they're typically smaller and there's usually less people in them.
On a serious note: no one should be creeped out by someone. If you feel uncomfortable when you're trying to workout, head back to your room. Finish your workout there and make sure no one is following you.
5 Things to Love About Hotel Gyms
1. It has a great view.
There are few things better than working out with a beautiful view laid out right in front of you. While this might be rare, there are some hotel gyms that have a view that will make your workout ten times more enjoyable. Here are a few hotel gyms with great views:
Millennium Hilton One UN Plaza Hotel, New York
Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel, London
Langham Place, Hong Kong
Park Hyatt, Tokyo
2. It's a new environment.
It can be very refreshing to workout in a new environment. Day after day in the same gym can be tiring and you may find yourself getting less and less excited to train after awhile. Traveling is a great opportunity to experience a different gym, with new people, equipment and maybe even a better view.
3. It's almost never crowded.
Long lines waiting for a bench are not usually a thing in hotel gyms. There never seems to be more than a few people in hotel gyms at any given moment and that makes their stock go up. Not having to wait for the machine you want and having plenty of space to workout are something that hotel gyms usually can provide their fitness-minded guests.
4. There's a variety of equipment.
Anytime you workout some place new, hotel gym or regular gym, there's a good chance you're going to get to use some equipment that you don't normally have access to. Even in a small hotel gym, there's a good chance you're gonna find something that you've never used before.
The first time I ever used a TRX was in a hotel gym. I had never seen one in any of the gyms I worked out in. I stayed in a Hilton one night a few years ago, headed down to the gym and found one hooked up and ready to go. I had read about them and had seen videos but never had an opportunity to use one. I did some rows, tricep extensions, and pike push-ups in a circuit and had one of the best workouts I ever had.
5. It's within walking distance of your room.
This can be a huge time saver for anyone who has to drive to their gym when they're at home (like me). It's not too bad to be able to walk out of your hotel room, walk down a hallway, maybe take the elevator up or down a level, and be at the gym in less five minutes.
The hotel gym can provide a great fitness experience for you while you travel or it can leave with you very few options for getting in a good workout. To prevent being stuck with few options, plan ahead and be ready to improvise, adapt, and overcome when you travel.
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