Most hotels nowadays have some sort of fitness facility.
They range in size from “a rickety treadmill and two partially inflated
exercise balls” to “a handful of various cardio machines and a set of
mismatched free weights” to “a miniature health club with several machines, a
spa and a trainer named Rick.”
For the past couple of months, I have been staying at a
hotel with an above-average exercise room. There are no deep-tissue massages
available post-workout, but as far as I can tell, all of the equipment was
manufactured sometime in the last decade. There are three treadmills, two
elliptical machines, a recumbent bike, a set of weights and medicine balls, and
a rack of clean sweat towels (bonus!).
I’m staying in the middle of a very urban area, which means
there aren’t many outdoor running options. (Unless your idea of a workout
involves dodging the unsavory characters lurking in city bus stops.) As such, I
have become somewhat of an early morning fixture in the hotel gym.
It’s not a bad place to get in a workout, especially if,
like most hotel guests, you’re only in town for a couple of nights. The problem
for extended-stayers like myself is that everyone else walks through the door
knowing that they are probably not going to see you—or anyone else in
It’s kind of like going out in a city where nobody knows
you—for one night, you can act like a total ass without having to worry about
showing up in your boss’s Facebook feed the next morning. In a hotel gym, you
can act like a total ass without having to worry about running into the
stranger on the other treadmill at next week’s kickboxing orientation.
Once gym etiquette goes out the window, it’s total anarchy.
In this dog-eat-dog, every-man-for-himself kind of atmosphere, you better snag
the equipment you want the moment you see it open.
The way to do this, apparently, is to wipe your sweaty head
with a fresh towel and then drape said towel over the piece(s) of equipment you wish
to use later. That way, you can hop on the treadmill for another 30 minutes
knowing that the 25-pound dumbbells will be waiting for you whenever you’re
While you’re at it, it’s probably a good idea to reserve one
of the two benches in the room using another rag soaked in your own perspiration—you know,
just in case someone else is thinking about using it sometime in the
Oh, and heaven forbid that you screw up your circuit due to
lack of floor space for your burpees. You should definitely go ahead and dibs
some real estate using a stretching mat topped with—you guessed it—another damp
When you see another guest circling around “your” bench with
a confused look on her face, it’s best to just stare straight ahead and pretend
not to notice. She’ll go away eventually. And if she doesn’t, you can always
play dumb. (“Oh, oops! I didn’t mean to leave that towel there. Silly me!”)
If she calls you a jerk and storms off, who cares? You’re
checking out in 45 minutes, and you don’t plan on returning anytime soon.
Before you leave, though, you should stop by the front desk
and lick every apple in the dish of complimentary fruit—just in case
your plans change and you end up coming back later.