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A fitness movement built around traveling.

11 Things Every Hotel Gym Should Have

11 Things Every Hotel Gym Should Have

A broken treadmill and a few light dumbbells don’t cut it anymore. Here’s what hotels need to start putting in their gyms.


The hotel gym of yesterday was almost always a disappointment.

You’d pack your workout clothes and shoes in the hope of getting in some exercise while away from home, only to find a closet-sized room with some lonely cardio and weight machines.

But just as fitness has changed, so have many hotel gyms.

As we’ve shown you here at Fittest Travel, the average hotel fitness center has improved and many are now offering more equipment in larger rooms. Some even boast incredible views and fitness classes in studios.

Despite the improvements of many, the average hotel gym still lacks what you’ll find in your home gym.

So this is a notice to all hotel operators. We want certain things in your gym and here’s our list.

Heavy Dumbbells

This might be the biggest complaint we see from fitness-minded travelers. Many hotel gyms have dumbbells but it’s rare to see them go heavier than fifty pounds.

Now we know there are some great workouts you can do with lighter dumbbells but as any gym rat will tell you, sometimes you need heavy ones to get the pump you desire.

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Barbells

This one is for the meatheads because, let’s face it, some of us cannot get a good workout without a barbell. Bench pressing, squatting, deadlifting, and overhead pressing are the foundation of lifting and a barbell is a must.

We have our barbell preferences, like the Rogue Echo Bar, but for the sake of training while traveling we’d take any barbell in a hotel gym.

Bumper plates or at least round plates would be nice, too.

Squat Rack

What good are barbells if there’s no squat rack? Yes, you can still get a good workout, but a squat rack is essential in our eyes.

The “king of exercises” is a favorite of serious lifters for good reason - we’re talking serious gains in size and strength plus a massive metabolic stimulation.

A good squat rack is not just for squatting, either. Most rigs come with a setup that allows for multiple lifts, plus a pull-up bar.

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Peloton Bike

The Peloton bike is a fitness sensation right now.

The bike’s mounted 22-inch touchscreen provides users with digital interactive workout classes and its high-quality build has made it so popular that many “Pelotoners” will book their hotel based specifically if they have a Peloton bike.

Peloton bikes are currently in over 250 hotels in the United States and we have a complete list here.

Concept2 Rower

Rowing is hands-down one of the best ways to exercise.

It’s low-impact, so you’re not banging up your joints like you do when pounding away on your knees with a treadmill.

It’s a cardiovascular challenge, while also building strength and improving conditioning with its resistance.

Any rower would do in a hotel gym situation, but the Concept2 rower is vastly superior to any other model out there. It’s been the top-rated rower for years due to its durability and function.

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Assault AirBike

While the Peloton bike is great for certain fitness types, the Assault bike is a whole other beast. It’s often referred to as “Satan’s tricycle” because of the punishing workout you get.

Like the Concept2 rower, the Assault Air bike is a low-impact and high-output cardio machine. It’ll test your mental toughness as it forces you to work harder than almost any other machine.

And it makes a great default exercise machine, so when you’re looking for options in a hotel gym and you see an Assault Air bike sitting there, hop on and prepare for a full-body burn.

Pull-Up Bar

The pull-up is the ultimate test of a person’s strength relative to their bodyweight.

On top of that, the pull-up is an incredible strength and muscle-building exercise that requires your entire upper body to work simultaneously in one movement.

Pull-up bars can be found on squat racks, cable machines, or can simply be mounted on a wall.

There’s no excuse for a hotel gym to not have one.

Space

One of the worst things about many hotel gyms is the lack of space you’ll often find.

It’s nice to have some room to stretch, do some yoga, or to simply not be right next to the other person using the fitness center.

We know that hotels are aiming to correct this. The average hotel fitness center size has increased over the last decade and hotel gym designers we’ve spoken with have said that many hotels are opting to fill in the pools that are often located adjacent to the gym in order to add more space for fitness.

Areas with rubber mats or even a turf area would be ideal, particularly for functional fitness enthusiasts.

If the hotel wants to add a sled, we wouldn’t have any objection to that.

A View

Don’t take this the wrong way. While a view of a city skyline or a beach would be great, we know that’s not always possible.

But that’s not the point.

The view could be of a parking lot, but let’s just have something to look at instead of putting the gym in a windowless basement room.

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Floor-to-ceiling windows are great for providing a light-filled environment that increases the energy in the room and gives guests a more pleasurable place to get their workout in.

While we’re on the subject though, their are some hotels with incredible views, like the Park Hyatt in Tokyo and the W Barcelona.

Workout Programs

Having a quality fitness center in a hotel will go a long way but it doesn’t do much good for someone who knows little about fitness.

Squat racks and kettlebells can be virtually useless if someone has no idea how to program them into a workout routine.

The Fitbod app might be the best solution for this. Fitbod creates custom strength-training workouts based on your ability and goals, effectively taking the guestwork out of how to use equipment and what sets and rep schemes you should be doing.

Fitbod acts as your personal trainer when you're on the road, allowing you to take your workout wherever you go.  It even has handy bodyweight only exercises in the event your hotel does not have a gym.  

Fitbod is already offered at a number of nationwide hotels providing complimentary onsite personal training to hotel guests and is actively seeking new hotels to partner with.

We can’t wait to see more hotel gym users have access to this great amenity.

Read our full review of the Fitbod app.

Kettlebells

The kettlebell doesn't seem too different than a dumbbell at first glance. 

They're both tools for building bilateral strength and offer superior range of motion than barbells. That's about where the similarities end.

Kettlebells have an advantage over dumbbells because they consistently challenge your grip and stability. 

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Another advantage kettlebells have over dumbbells is that you don't need a wide range of weights to have an effective workout. You'll build complete, well-rounded fitness with a kettlebell.

University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse subjects who performed full-body kettlebell workouts saw a 70% increase in core strength and a 13.8% boost in aerobic capacity.

Bottom Line

Hotels have a responsibility to provide their guests with adequate health and fitness facilities.

While the overall quality of the hotel gym has improved, many hotels have some serious ground to make up in improving their fitness center.

We believe that having these eleven things in their gym will make for happier fitness-minded travelers and healthier people in the general population.

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