Alternatives to substandard hotel sports facilities while on vacation

For some people, vacations do not include working out at any point. For others, either athlete, people trying to lose weight or just your regular Joe who can't sleep well at night if he hasn't put in some exercise, going to the hotel gym is ordinary.When people travel and stay in lovely hotels, one thing they never count on is the hotel having sub-standard sports facilities – if any. After years and years of traveling, I have learned to lower my expectations, even when pictures of the gym and other sports facilities look enticing.For many hotels, they know that their guests won't really use the gym while on vacation (very true assumption based on the dwindling numbers I find at the gym in hotels) so they choose not to invest as much in them – or they don't have them at all. Many who do have gyms and other sports facilities charge an extra amount to use them.

Types of hotel sports facilities/activities.

  • Gymnasium
  • Swimming pool
  • Tennis court
  • Sports field
  • Water sports (if the hotel is located near/at a beach)

Here are some tips if your gym does not have proper sports facilities.

  1. Find a gym close by, for example with If you are really intent on going to a gym and you are not satisfied with the one at the hotel or there simply isn’t any, find another. Before you book your hotel, find out via if there are gyms around the area you want to go to. Make sure it’s really close because you don’t want to spend half of your holiday in transit to and from the gym. All the gyms on allows for drop-ins clients to pay a day rate, a weekly rate or a monthly. This is ideal whean you don’t want to have to pay for a full month’s membership when you will only be visiting for a couple of days.
  2. Use whatever equipment the gym has. Many hotel gyms are really small and compact with only the basic equipment. They may have a treadmill, spin bike, weights (a variety of about 12 dumbbells) and steps. This may not seem like much if you are used to a fully equipped state-of-the-art gym at home, but this isn’t home. You have to adapt if you are looking to get in some good gym work. Choose what part of your body to work on for each session and include some cardio.
  3. Hotel swimming pools tend to be more for recreation than for swimming laps. In one hotel I visited, I found that the pool they had spoken about in the brochure was nothing bigger than a tub. It could only fit about 5 people and even then, swimming would not be an option. However, if you the hotel has a fairly sized pool -even 15 meters- all you have to do to get in a workout is to schedule your swim when there’s no one else around. If not, you can also settle for water aerobics with weights.
  4. The world is your gym. If the hotel doesn’t even have a gym, that shouldn’t be a problem, you can train from the comfort of your room. This is your chance to step up your body weight exercises. B creative too. Find places with a bar that you can use for push-ups, chin-ups and the like. If you are working out in your room, there are several High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout videos and tutorials you can find online that require minimal or no equipment at all.
  5. Pack your own equipment. I doubt that you will be able to carry dumbbells around with you during your vacation but there are a few portable options. These include resistance bands, a jump rope, and a yoga mat. Resistance bands are good for toning the body and building strength. Jump rope provides a great cardio workout that you can do from just about anywhere. Yoga during your vacation is a great option because it helps you relax and clear your mind, which is exactly what you need. It also provides a good way to stretch your body and increase flexibility.
  6. Go with an exercise buddy. When you are on holiday, the general mood is one of relaxation and downright laziness- even though this allowed sometimes. Go with someone who understands your need (yes, at this point, it’s a need, not merely a wish) to workout and will support you. This may be your spouse, friend, relative or even another fitness enthusiast you meet at the hotel.
  7. Set time aside for your workout. By now, you have figured out when in the day you prefer to work out. Even though you are on vacation, some sort of schedule for your time, however flexible will help you not only plan your exercise but it will help you get the most out of your trip.
  8. Pack workout gear. Having workout gear in your bag will motivate you to work out. The most important of this is running shoes. Make sure you carry a good pair of running shoes because if all else fails, you will still have your feet and tarmac for exercise. Jogging in a new environment will challenge you because it is not your usual route. It is also a perfect way to tour the town. Other than just knowing all the popular bars and clubs, you could do yourself a favor and find out more about the city you are visiting. Jogging provides a free opportunity to experience the city like any other resident.

Lack of or substandard sporting facilities when you travel should not be a reason to miss your workout. As highlighted above, you can also find alternatives. What matters is that you have the will to continue your progress even if the environment you are in does not favor it. Remember, the benefits you reap from leading an active lifestyle will be rewarded later in life.


Search & Book

Find a gym or fitness club near your hotel and book your day pass today.

Working out after summer

Search & Book

Find a gym or fitness club near your hotel and book your day, week or month pass today.

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