How to Get the Most From Your Hotel Fitness Room

Since the early ’90s and the days of step aerobics, spandex, and the Thighmaster, John Sarver has designed fitness rooms. As the director of design and development for Hotel Fitness, he specializes in hotel and resort fitness centers, with more than 15,000 projects under his (treadmill) belt. He shares some insight on fitness trends, keys to success, common mistakes, and more.

What do you see as the latest trends with hotel fitness rooms?
I’m seeing a growing trend in providing more personal fitness items, such as resistance bands, stability balls, medicine balls, stretching mats, or core products and accessories that you might see on television. Fitness in general has become more personal with the growth in TV fitness videos and custom programs for individuals, and some of these programs, such as P90X, have had a great influence in how rooms are being outfitted today.

What are the keys to having a successful fitness component to a hotel and something that adds to the overall guest experience?
Have balance and diversity, including both cardiovascular and strength training products, and plan on allocating some space to personal fitness and stretching areas. Also, make sure to have an adequate number of TVs. A rule of thumb is one TV per three cardio products, and also put them near dumbbell or strength training areas where people have breaks between sets. Proper placement of ancillary items, such as mirrors, windows, fountains, and towels also can add to the overall guest experience.

How often should a hotel evaluate its equipment to make sure it best suits its guests?
It’s important to stay current with fitness trends and products as they are introduced to the marketplace. Today’s TV programs are saturated with fitness programs and products that many traveling guests use and enjoy in their homes. Staying in touch with the trends you see on TV can really bring an added value to your guests. Plus, give them an opportunity to fill out a comment card or use an online comment program on what they would like to see in the fitness room.


What are the biggest mistakes hotels make with fitness rooms?
Many fitness rooms don’t have balance and diversification of products. They offer several pieces of cardiovascular products and maybe one small area for strength training with limited product offerings. Also, placing cardiovascular products so they’re facing walls can create a bland user experience. Some hotels will do this because their electrical is in the walls and it’s easier and more efficient. However, in our modern designs, we opt for floor outlets so we can face the equipment toward the social focal point so users can enjoy the social interaction within a fitness room. The “busyness” of a room can bring energy to a workout.

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