Staying fit on the road
Travelers can use websites to find the best hotel gyms, running routes, yoga facilities and more.
The Associated Press
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Matthias Morel, an airport marketing consultant who travels a lot for work, likes to stay in shape.
So Morel doesn't care to check into a hotel only to discover that the gym is in a converted guest room crammed with out-of-date equipment, or in a windowless basement cell with no air-conditioning.
Hoping to spare other travelers that experience, Morel, 27, and three partners have started HotelGymReview.com, where users can review their hotel gym experiences and find the best hotel gyms when they're traveling.
Morel's site is just one of many new tools that make it easier to get a good workout on the road.
Some sites feature user-generated reviews to steer travelers toward the hotels with the best gym amenities. There are also sites for runners, such as Run.com — that direct travelers to safe, measured running routes in unfamiliar cities.
Many hotels with exercise facilities also provide in-room workouts through programs like the cable station Exercise TV.
Others, such as selected Marriott hotels, will set up a Wii Fit on request. Some Westin hotels even have exercise equipment in selected guest rooms. Sheraton hotels offer free "workout in a bag" kits, with a mat, stretch rope, and other items for guests to use in their rooms.
Here are some options for staying fit on the road.
Hotel-room workout: Jennifer Galardi, a dance and fitness trainer for Exercise TV, believes you can get a good workout anywhere, even without a gym. She regularly stretches and lifts weight with furniture to fit exercise into her hectic travel schedule.
Exercise TV content is available at hotels including DoubleTree, Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Omni, and Radisson, but none of those chains have it in every single room. Ask before you book. Exercise TV also offers online workouts (www.exercisetv.tv) and an iPhone application.
Yoga: Ben Schwartzman, an Idaho-based lawyer, researches online before he travels to find a good yoga studio near his hotel. In the absence of a studio, he carries a yoga mat and does yoga in his hotel room.
Running: If you prefer to do your workout outdoors, www.run.com can point you toward more than 11,200 running routes, with mileage. The site has running routes in all 50 states plus dozens of other countries (five in Cambodia alone). Visitors can choose from 2-mile, 5-mile, and more demanding routes.
Athletic-Minded Traveler: This site — www.athleticmindedtraveler.com/ — reviews hotel gym facilities. But it uses professional reviewers and concentrates on major cities. It includes reviews of running loops, lap pools, and places to eat.
Just make do: In the absence of a good gym, Exercise TV fitness trainer Jennifer Galardi recommended that travelers just use what's at hand.
"There are a number of things you can do without equipment," said Galardi, who travels frequently for her job and often works out using hotel furniture — including chairs, for leg-strengthening squats. "Resistance bands don't take up a lot of room in a suitcase, or weigh a lot."
"I think people get spoiled," she said.
"They're used to the best and the latest equipment, but you don't need it. Actually the older things are better because you need to work hard to make them work."