Get in Shape the Right Way

Choosing a Hotel That Meets Your Travel Fitness Needs

In the last Trip Fitness blog post, I discussed Low Carb and Healthy Snacks to eat on the go. In this blog post, I would like to get away from diets for a moment.

Today, I’d like to discuss the process I go through in choosing a hotel that meets my fitness needs.hotel-fitness-center

Don’t Fall Off the Fitness Wagon!

While traveling or away from home, it can become very easy to fall off the fitness wagon quickly and end up forgetting all about your healthy living goals. Planning your next business trip or vacation around your fitness goals can help keep you on the right path.

Excuses are Like Butts… Some Stink, Some Don’t

A couple of the easiest excuses people use to defend why they did not work out while traveling is, “they didn’t have a gym on site”, or “I forgot my work out shoes/clothes.” C’mon… Really? Is that the best you’ve got? Believe me; I have used those excuses many times in the past. Too many times… This article will help you prepare for your next trip and help you stick to healthy choices while on the road.

Let me first put a disclaimer out there, I am a self proclaimed, “points whore”. I will go out of my way at times to stay at a Hilton brand. (Hey, if I’m going to be away from my family every week, I at least want to get something out of the deal.) Plus I’m HHonors Diamond status, so it makes me feel special… Actually, don’t get me started on Diamond status… They used to acknowledge your status and give you good perks/upgrades, but lately I have found that most hotels provide little to no extra perks for elite status.

OK, maybe I’m bitter… I’ll take that back, Hilton gives you access to their executive lounge and free breakfast along with a couple others in the HHonors portfolio. You may get a room upgrade if one is available. You also begin accumulating points faster and receive guaranteed 48 hour availability. Hotel status has become disappointing to me lately. Conrad, if you are reading this, please provide more perks to us loyal travelers!

Now that I’ve got that out of my system… Back to the important stuff!

Pre Planning is Key

In order to stay in shape while traveling, you need to do a little pre-planning. My first step in travel fitness is to get on hhonors.com (or the hotel brand of your preference), type in the destination address and begin looking at hotels that fit the budget and are in a convenient location. Once I have narrowed down my search to a few hotels, I begin digging deeper into each.

Step One:

I start out by first viewing the pictures (if I haven’t stayed there before) because I hate staying in old, run down, hotels. A lot of times, that is the reason the hotel is cheaper… The pictures are not always recent, so BE WARNED!

Word of warning! The pictures could be five (or more) years old and the hotel now looks much older in person, which means the fitness equipment will be older and more worn out.

Step Two:

After reviewing the pictures and deciding if I want to stay there, I then click the “Hotel Details” link and look at the “Amenities and Services” section. They will always list whether there is an onsite fitness center at the hotel. If it shows there is an onsite fitness center, I will look for a photo of it in their album. I look for free weights and benches (not a deal killer if they don’t have weights) first. Then I look at the treadmill and elliptical selection. I try to gauge how old the fitness equipment is from the photos.

If I cannot get a good view of the equipment from their pictures, I have been known to call the hotel and ask them if they know how old the equipment is and what type of equipment they have. They will usually have a ballpark idea on when it was replaced, if ever…

Here’s an important tip!

Let’s say you found a perfectly located hotel, but the gym is lack luster.

There is a solution for that!

While you are on the phone with the hotel, ask them if they have any affiliations with nearby gyms. One thing I never realized until recently is that many gyms give a discounted daily rate to nearby hotel guests! You can usually get a daily/weekly pass for a discounted rate.

Step Three:

Next step is to view meal choices. This can be found in the “Amenities and Services” section. This tells if there is a restaurant on site (best choice), or if they only serve continental breakfast (another term for disgusting, spongy eggs, sugar laced fruit bowl, and some sort of mystery meat, or if you’re lucky, fat laced biscuits and gravy). You can still get oatmeal, yogurt, and hard boiled eggs (usually half frozen) at the continental breakfast with some fresh fruit…

My first choice would always be a hotel with a restaurant on site! You can order a REAL omelet with all of your favorite veggies, meats, and cheeses inside it. They always have a better fresh fruit selection and real side choices such as bacon and sausage. It is much easier to eat healthy when you can request your food selection!

Good Alternative!

A good alternative is to book a hotel such as Homewood Suites, or Hilton’s new Home 2 Suites (which are great, I just stayed at one recently). You can get rooms with their own full size refrigerator and stove (they usually have better meal choices also). Buy a dozen eggs, a pack of water, and healthy snacks (if you will be staying for more than a day…) to prepare throughout the week.

Now you have verified:

  • The hotel is clean (and doesn’t look like it’s a destination for a cheap porn taping)
  • They have a fitness center onsite (or a gym affiliation)
  • Meal choices look solid

It is time to book your room. I always try to haggle a better rate (that’s the salesman inside me), but it doesn’t always work… I will also check my company’s Amex Travel site to see if there are any special rates with higher end hotels.

Step Four:

Before you leave for your trip, make sure to set aside your workout clothes for the week. I like to pack as efficiently as possible, so if I’m leaving for a four day/three night trip, I will pack one pair of workout shorts, two pair athletic socks, two workout shirts, which I rotate (I know, stinky… But hey, I let the sweat dry over night!) and of course my gym shoes.

Since I typically drive to most of my trips, I always pack a separate workout duffle bag. I’d pack this bag first and set it by the door so I make sure not to forget it. This may not be practical if you are flying and would then have to check an additional bag.

If you are flying, learn to pack like a travel ninja and save the most space possible! (I can pack five day’s worth of clothes in a medium sized, leather duffle bag which I carry on the plane!) I try to avoid checking bags, like the plague!

Too many bad experiences, plus it is always easier to jump on the next flight out when yours is canceled if you do not have any checked bags.

In this duffle bag, I pack my multi vitamins and other supplements (which I will discuss in a later blog) for the week in a plastic Ziploc bag. I also throw in bottles of water, almonds, pistachios, beef jerky, etc… The cookies at check-in can be tempting, but I find the pre packed snacks to be helpful to just say no… (Believe me, I love cookies!)

Step Five:

When you get to the hotel for check-in, request your free bottles of water, even request extras if they are not feeling stingy and are willing to share. Hydration is extremely important! Request a room on the highest floor (you can set this in your preferences on the hotel website) and walk right past the elevator… TO THE STAIRS! Yes, take the stairs! Yes, I know you have your hands full of luggage, but hey, 30 extra pounds will only help burn more calories! You can burn up to 15 calories per minute by taking the stairs over the elevator. I try to take the stairs any chance I get. Every little bit counts and it all adds up!

Now, get into your room and set out your workout clothes. If they are set out and noticeable, you will be more likely to use them!

Final (and most important) Step:

Next, set a plan for the days you intend to work out, times you intend to work out, and what your exercises will be. Preview the fitness center on the way to your room to help preplanning. I find my mornings are best to workout. I can always wake up early and fit in a workout. If I wait until the evening, a business dinner always pops up or a deadline looms that I need to get something finished… Then, there goes my travel workout plan! Plan your work and work your plan…

Hopefully this helped you understand more about how I work my hotel choices into my fitness plan. In my next blog post, I will provide more fitness tips for staying in shape while traveling, including hotel workouts, quick cardio options, and hotel room bodyweight workouts.

Until next time… Stay fit my friends! Contact Me if you have any questions or I can help! Leave us a comment on Facebook in the box below!

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  • Ricky

    Zach, this is great advice for frequent travelers.