Hotel Fitness Centers: On-Site or Off-Site?

It was darn cold that morning I was Guest of the Day at the Fairfield Inn Chicago Gurnee, and I was loathe to go the off-site fitness center. When I arrived at the incredible, mega-size FitNation that is open to hotel guests I was ready to move to Gurnee.

FitNation Gurnee IL

So many hotels, even those at high price points and without space constraints, do a half-ass job on fitness centers.

The next day I was at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Minneapolis Bloomington and with their typical budget hotel tiny gym I was missing that cold trek to FitNation.

Fairfield Inn and Suites Minneapolis Bloomington Fitness Center

Or the classic dumbbells in the closet at the Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley.

Crowne Plaza Crowded Gym

I like that off-site hotel gyms get me out of the hotel into the local community. Similarly, I almost never eat at hotel restaurants.

Readers, what’s your take? On-site gym if its going to be half-ass or off-site and have to make the hike?

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  • Rob

    I wish hotels would show more pictures of the gyms online. On any typical website you’ll see 20+ pictures with at least 5 of their banquet facilities, but only an odd angle photo of the gym.

    I’m fine with an offsite gym as older properties might have problems putting a decent one in. As long as it is closely and is free or has a reasonable fee ($5-$10) then that is fine.

  • DaninSTL

    Needs to be onsite and 24 hours. It’s a pain to go off site in my opinion. Usually I’m in a hurry to “fit in” a work out. I guess if you have plenty of time it’s not a problem to go off site. Obviously the off site gyms are going to be better. It’s like working out at home. I have a bunch of equipment in my basement (that I do use) but it’s not as good as the gym 4 miles up the road.
    My biggest problem with hotel (or motel on many of my business trips) is that you will check into some random side of the road hotel and find out that the “fitness room” is open like 7am to 9pm or something like that. I never, ever understand why they put hours on the fitness room. I don’t sound bitter do I?

  • Joey

    I prefer onsite as well even if it is half ass. When i travel i normally just do the basics of pushups/crunches and not heavy duty workout sessions so the half ass gym is fine.
    By the way, i chuckled when i saw the dumbell in the closet pic. Whose leg is that?!! 😉

  • VG

    I very much agree with DaninSTL.

  • Ed

    I appreciate it when hotels are honest when they assess their own fitness center. I would like to work out in the hotel but, if the property isn’t able or willing to invest in good quality equipment and a nice workout room, they should offer guests an offsite alternative. I have not seen many hotels that put restrictive hours on fitness centers unless they are connected to a swimming pool – maybe there is some insurance liability that prohibits them from remaining open late at night.

  • @Rob – great point that I have overlooked in their ommission. Reminds me of when I was applying for college, some showed lavish pictures of everything, some tellingly only showed close-ups and detail.

    @DaninSTL – limited hours is a pain, I encounter that sometimes overseas as well, when fitness centers often linked to spas and may have separate management, often selling membership to locals.

  • @Joey – just a poor guy trying to work out. When you have a Silicon Valley business hotel with a constant stream of guests from the East Coast waking up at 5 or 6, and only a modest exercise room, the exercise rooms can be filled to bursting. In my case, after having loaded up on braised pork belly and other Shanghainese delights at the mall opposite, I have to beat myself up each morning when I get out there.