Updating your hotel gym: 8 ideas

Fitness and wellness are in vogue these days, and this trend isn’t bound to change in the next decade. We are increasingly becoming a health-conscious society (hurry!), and with comfortable guestrooms, spas, restaurants and fitness facilities, hotels are primed to capitalize on this movement. We are community leaders, and therefore we should take an active role to lead our customers towards a healthier lifestyle.

Spas and wellness go hand-in-hand, and your F&B department likewise has numerous options in this regard (organics, local sourcing, gluten-free, calorie counting and so on). A property’s gym and other associated sports facilities are often neglected, and so I present below eight elements that will update or improve your facilities.

1. Great trainers

Just as your staff is the lifeblood of the hotel, your trainers form the core of your fitness operations. They must be attentive, knowledgeable and highly personable. They should make themselves available to everyone — not just those who have an appointment. They should remember names, past conversations and any particular concerns people have had.

2. Making the gym social

Yes, trainers play a large role in this by talking to people and connecting guests with one another. But it’s also a matter of arranging the space so it encourages interaction. Think TVs, lounge areas with comfortable seating and a juice bar.

3. Sports training

The three most common — and therefore expected — goals of gym usage are weight loss, building muscle and toning. Designing a sports-specific program or two will differentiate your fitness product. Plus, these are typically fun and highly interactive. Obviously these are dependent on what specific facilities you have (tennis courts, pools, running tracks and so on), but there are still quite a few sports that can be covered on the gym floor.

4. Complex machines

Just as hotels establish a strong sense of place with unique lobby and guestroom designs, so too can you elicit a similar feeling for your gymnasium by installing intricate and eye-catching machinery. Chest presses and lat pulldowns are in every club around the world (read: boring), but how many have spacious TRX setups or a FreeMotion Dual Cable Cross? There are also many new fascinating machines on the market nowadays; take, for instance, the recently patented Isophit from Striation 6 — a physiotherapy studio here in Toronto — which is an adjustable bench solely for isometric workouts.

5. Differentiated towel service

Close your eyes and imagine your average gym towel: square, reasonably sized, off-white color and probably not that soft on the skin. Given this as an expectation, there are several options to exceed. First, any fabric destined to touch a guest’s skin should be the pinnacle of soft. You can also make an impression by choosing a color(s) for your towels to match those of your brand. Lastly, consider scenting them — for instance, with a zesty lemon smell.

6. Fact of the day

Make your fitness room more interactive by posting helpful tips. These can range from pictures outlining how to use multi-purpose machines to brief dietary pamphlets by the reception or juice bar. These tidbits will heighten the space’s interactivity if they aren’t overwhelming in their length.

7. A strong early start

Many of us only have less than an hour in the wee hours of the morning allotted for a workout. Not only should your fitness room be open at this time to appease the early risers (5:30 a.m., preferably), but it should be as lively a space as it is later in the day after everyone’s had their first coffee. This will elevate the moods of those guests exercising and thus heighten the overall experience.

8. Cleanliness

A dirty gym may be 99% as functional as a spotless one, but it doesn’t inspire people to perform at their best. Yes, staff should be constantly roving the floors to tidy weights and remove garbage, but cleanliness goes beyond this. It involves hygienic aesthetics such as pleasant aromas to mask sweat and metallic odors, appealing music outside of the latest Top 40 pop singles and perhaps a few grander upgrades like small fountains at the entranceway.

Please chime in with your own suggestions.