You're Not a Freak For Using the Hotel Gym on Vacation
A quick look at social media suggests that people who use the hotel gym while on vacation are freaks. Here's why that's wrong.
It's surprising just how many haters there are towards gym-goers on vacation. Clearly, not everyone shares the same passion for fitness. Some of us workout because we feel like we have to. There are those of us who avoid it all together. But then there's the rest of us. Those of us who actually enjoy working out. And vacation without our fitness routine would not be a vacation at all.
"Who are these freaks who go on vacation and workout in the hotel gym?"
It's been said a lot on social media. You're a freak if you go on vacation and actually spend your time using the hotel gym. I've got news for anyone who's ever said this. If by freak, you mean someone who actually cares about their physical and mental health, who wants to get stronger, leaner, faster, and yes, more attractive, than I guess we're freaks.
Is the gym a life obligation? That's what many consider working out. Something you have to do. Like going to work or cleaning, it's something that should be put aside when you're on vacation. I don't see it that way and I know many of you agree. It's not an obligation. It's a privilege and an opportunity to improve.
Of course, you don't have to use the hotel gym. If you prefer to do a bodyweight workout in your hotel room, get outside and go for a long run, or even just take a walk, the point is getting in some physical activity. It's good for you. And there are a lot of us who like to do it while on vacation.
Travel + Fitness = Happiness
Traveling enriches our life through the experience and memories we gain from it. Fitness improves our mind and body. It makes us feel better about ourselves and it extends our lives. Combine the two and you have what we believe is the formula for a happy life.
Here's the case for working out on vacation. There was a time when I would've laughed at the idea of spending even a minute of a vacation in a hotel gym but thankfully I've grown up and changed my view. I workout, even on vacation, because I want to maintain my energy levels, feel good about myself by improving everyday, wearing myself out enough to sleep well at night, and most importantly: because I love to workout. I love to push myself in the gym as I strive to achieve higher levels of physical fitness. I want to be stronger and faster. I want to be harder to kill (I'm a soldier and firefighter so this is especially important).
Beating Jet Leg
Paul Levesque, aka Triple H, is a 14-time world champion in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). As a professional wrestler, he travels a lot - over 200 days a year. Here's what Triple H does to combat jet lag, from Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss: "When I landed, I would check into the hotel. The second we checked in, I'd ask them: 'Is the gym open? Can I go train?' Even if it was to get on a bike and ride for 15 minutes to reset things. I learned early that it seemed any time I did that, I didn't get jet lag."
Days full of freedom may seem great but I have found that maintaining a routine that includes pre-scheduled workouts acts as a support structure which allows me to more effectively plan and execute my day. I don't want to be without this on vacation. I need that structure. I need to remain disciplined. I take pride in it.
When we fight off the temptation to be lazy, we're building discipline and fortitude. And these traits can be translated to other areas of our lives. Pushing yourself to get in a hard workout, even when you're on vacation and feel like you should be relaxing, can be the sort of thing that helps you build more discipline in your work, finances, and relationships.
Being a Fitter and Healthier Traveler
Don't take time off from your normal fitness routine when you're traveling. Even on vacation, it's important to stick with what you like to do for physical fitness. Research has shown that taking even short amounts of time off from exercise can have negative effects on your body. And the health benefits of exercise are too numerous to ignore.
If someone told you that spending a few minutes a day moving your body around will reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity and chronic disease, you would have to be crazy to not commit yourself to doing it, right? Science has shown us that regular exercise will increase your life expectancy. The higher the intensity, the better. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is the best, followed by running at a moderate pace. If you can't do either of those, at least commit yourself to taking a daily walk or bike ride.
Regular exercise will actually make you smarter and improve your mental clarity. Several studies have shown clear cognitive benefits of physical activity and have demonstrated a link between exercise, standing or stretching and a seven percent improvement in brain functioning. This can come in handy for business travelers in particular. Sometimes a cup of coffee isn't enough to get you focused for a big meeting after a long flight. Try doing a quick bodyweight workout to fire up your brain and sharpen your focus.
Exercising treats depression just as well, if not better, than common anti-depressant medications. A couple of things happen when we workout. Your brain, thinking that exercise is stress on the body, releases neurotransmitters and endorphins to combat the stress, protect your body and reset your system. This is what causes a feeling of euphoria and happiness after your workout. Commit to a daily exercise routine and you'll notice an immediate reduction in your stress levels.
Think about the previous three benefits of exercise and apply them to your travels. Living longer will allow you to travel more. A sharper mind will let you take in more of your surroundings and enjoy the moments even more. Less stress will let you sleep better at night, leading to a well-rested traveler ready to take on everyday with more vigor than ever before.
Some Hotel Gyms Are Insanely Awesome
There was a time when the hotel "fitness center" was nothing more than a dimly-lit closet with a treadmill and two dumbbells. Thankfully, those days are fading into the past. While there are a few hotels that haven't kept pace with our more health-conscious priorities, most are now racing to court fitness-minded travelers by building bigger and fancier gyms. And some of them are better than the gym you work out at home. They might even be worth booking a trip just to visit them.
It's becoming unacceptable for a luxury hotel to offer guests a dark, lonesome room with one machine and pass it off as a gym. What's becoming more and more common are amazing views, Crossfit and SoulCycle classes, functional fitness facilities, yoga studios, in-room fitness equipment and detailed decor that excites fitness-minded travelers.
Here are two examples of "hotel gyms" that are among the best in the world.
Six levels and 575,000 square feet await travelers who prioritize health and fitness at the Hotel at Midtown. Guests have access to Crossfit and athletic performance programs on the 40-foot turf field, a fitness floor with cardio and strength equipment, three squash courts, a boxing studio, two golf simulators, a cycling studio, a basketball court, yoga and Pilates studios, four pools, and a tennis lounge with sixteen courts.
The South Beach Miami 1 Hotel features a Spartan Gym through a partnership with Spartan Race - the company that runs the obstacle course mud races that have become extremely popular. The 14,000 square foot facility includes obstacles, climbing ropes, monkey bars, training classes, and outdoor workout areas.
I love the idea of exploring new hotel gyms. It's one of the most important factors in deciding what hotel to book and it's one of the first things I check out when I arrive at my destination. And the fact that there are some insanely awesome hotel gyms out there, like South Beach Miami 1 Hotel and the Hotel at Midtown in Chicago, makes it incredible to think that I would visit a place just to use the hotel gym.
I get it, vacation is supposed to be a time to relax and enjoy yourself. Partying and drinking are top priorities, along with laying around on the beach or by the pool and doing nothing.
But here's the thing. For many of us, working out is what relaxes us. It's what we do for stress relief. It makes us feel better, physically and mentally. Taking that away from our daily routine would not be a vacation at all. So if you think we're freaks for using the hotel gym, so be it. But we're doing what we want to be doing and spending our vacation exactly how we wish to.
Cover Photo Credit: Talise Fitness
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