Hotels Bring the Workout to Guest Rooms

MSNBC: Staying fit while traveling can be tough. Whether it’s the rich food, the unfamiliar routines or the serial business meetings, it can be hard to muster the energy to trudge down to the hotel fitness center.
Increasingly, you don’t have to as more and more hotels offer guestrooms equipped with weights, yoga mats and even treadmills and elliptical machines.

“The increased popularity of in-room fitness options has to do with convenience and effectiveness,” said Chris Carmichael, CEO and head coach for Carmichael Training Systems. “People can get the job done without leaving their room, get it done quickly and get on with their day.”

This spring, for example, the Hotel 71 in Chicago created five 600-square-foot fitness suites as part of a $15-million renovation. Two feature elliptical machines, three have treadmills, and all have 42-inch TVs on which guests can play workout DVDs. The rooms will be available at a slight premium above the average nightly rate, which starts at $179. The suites will also be offered to members of the hotel’s loyalty program as an upgrade.

“Our fitness center is available 24 hours a day, but some people find it awkward to go down there in the middle of the night,” said general manager Steve Shern. “Others just want the ability to work out in their own private space.”

Larger hotel companies are also getting with the program. Both Affinia Hotels and the Hilton Garden Inn chain offer complimentary fitness kits, which include yoga mats, stretching blocks, workout bands and weights. The latter also includes an 8-pound ball for abdominal workouts.

Other brands are forming partnerships with athletic and training companies to provide everything from exercise videos to workout clothes. At Sheraton, guests can take advantage of complimentary video-on-demand routines and “workout in a bag” kits developed by the athletic training company Core Performance. At Westin, they can borrow complimentary athletic shoes and workout clothes thanks to a partnership with New Balance.

The efforts acknowledge that the rigors of travel present challenges both to people’s fitness routines and their overall health. “Frequent travelers have realized that being fit makes travel easier,” said Carmichael. “They don’t want to put their lifestyle on hold when they leave town.”

And, as Shern said, there’s nothing like a piece of in-room exercise equipment to remind a traveler of his or her desire to maintain that healthy lifestyle: “I talked to one guest who told me the machine was staring at her the entire time. She said it was a great source of motivation to actually get on it.”

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