Increasingly hotels have realised their interest lies in keeping their guests fit as more than half of all travellers exercise. Victoria Burrows on this growing trend and its effect on the business.

Today’s international travellers want their hotel to supply an increasing array of the facilities they rely on in their daily lives. This is particularly so when it comes to fitness. Especially for business travellers, being able to combat jetlag through a revitalising run on the treadmill, de-stress after a meeting with a stretching session on a yoga mat, or maintain their long-term strength-building programme while away from their gym at home is a expectation when travelling. Hotels are increasingly realising the importance of providing an exercise zone that’s easily accessible, offers guests a range of fitness options, and is interconnected with their day-to-day fitness activities.

“We’ve seen some of the major brands increase the size of their fitness spaces as they’ve realised fitness is becoming a driver of revenue. All except the lowest-end brands are embracing this trend,” says Jeff Josephson, director of Global Hospitality and Multi Housing at gym equipment company, Core Health & Fitness. “The multipurpose products, such as dumbbells and dual adjustable pulley systems, are becoming mandatory in these fitness centres to augment the cardio offerings.”

It’s not only the size of the space and variety of machines offered, but also the layout of the space that fitness centre managers need to make sure is up to standard.

Space Appropriate

“Gym space is so valuable,” says David Chioe, director of hospitality, Asia Pacific, at Life Fitness. “It’s not only the size but about how to best utilise the space to make it comfortable and inviting, and so that it makes exercisers feel good.”

Along with making sure guests have an enjoyable experience at the gym, hotels also need to ensure that the gym is efficient.

“Getting the most out of your exercise equipment requires realising the maximum number of workouts per machine,” says Virginia Johnstone, who handles the public relations for fitness solutions company Precor APAC. “In the space-constrained hospitality industry, an exerciser’s preferred cardio machine might be in use during peak hours. While some guests may choose an alternate and completely different cardio machine, others may walk out, leaving empty cardio machines behind.”

To combat this, Precor has developed the Adaptive Motion Trainer (AMT) 885, which guests can use for running, stepping, climbing, and bicycling.

“It improves the odds of delivering exactly what your guests want and boosts the number of workouts per cardio machine. It’s perfect for gyms with limited floor space,” says Johnstone.

The AMT 885 is suitable for any fitness level, from beginner to seasoned athlete, and is billed as allowing users to burn up to 1,200 calories per hour. The machine’s pre-programmed workouts mean that users could exercise every day for 20 years without ever repeating a routine.

Networked fitness

Using technology hotel gyms can boost the appeal of their gyms. Guests expect to remain fully connected while they workout, and gym equipment is today offering users the ability to synch their everyday fitness plans with their activities at the hotel gym.

“This movement is known as networked fitness, and what this means for the facility owner is a more dedicated exerciser and a more discriminating consumer,” says Johnstone. “More and more exercisers want a tech-friendly facility to accommodate their lifestyle.”

The first step is fast and unrestricted internet access.

“The top trend in the fitness spaces for connectivity is having a clear mobile phone signal and easy access wifi,” says Josephson. “Guests are controlling their own content and data on their own devices. The properties that recognise this are providing their guests with a more connected experience with enhanced wifi.”

Gym equipment companies are creating their own apps that work anywhere in the world with their brand of equipment brand. Precor, for example, offers its own networked-fitness solution called Preva which allows exercisers to track their fitness progress at the gym with on-console software or on-the-go with the Preva mobile app. Core Health & Fitness also has its connected fitness solution, Life Fitness. Exercisers login to the connected Life Fitness cardio equipment in the hotel gym with an app or a pin code which allows them to instantly access the personalised workouts created in advance and track their workout results. Users can also tailor their on-screen display settings.

“The enhanced user experience keeps exercisers engaged and keeps them coming back,” says Chioe.

Connected fitness solutions can also make gym operation and management smoother. Gym managers can now monitor workout equipment usage on-site or remotely from a computer or mobile device. This helps to alert staff as soon as possible of any malfunction. Core Health & Fitness say that they may send a certified field service technician to address potential equipment issues sometimes even before gym managers know there is a problem.

“From staffing perspective, the equipment usage data helps a manager to schedule staffing appropriately during busy hours and reduce staffing costs when the gym isn’t busy,” says Chioe. “Plus, by scanning the QR code on our strength equipment, users are recommended an optimal seat position based on their height and also an instruction video on how to use the equipment. All these help utilise staff resources more efficiently.”

Life Fitness is also an open platform that gives developers access to their equipment codes, allowing them to create apps and websites tailored to their hotel. The open platform also allows existing workout apps and websites, such as Runtastic, SoFit and Lose It!, to be integrated with the equipment.

“Tens of millions of exercisers use fitness apps each day, and the number is growing exponentially,” says Chioe.

Hotel gyms need to make sure they are ahead of the fitness technology curve.