Jamie Gailewicz says the best part of traveling for work is the one hour each morning he gets to exercise without any interruptions.
"It's my way of dealing with stress and having peace of mind," says the marketing executive from Philadelphia.
Lately, when he stays at the Viceroy Santa Monica in California, he participates in a one-hour boot camp. On any given morning, he can be found on the beach doing squats, push-ups, lunges and sprints under the supervision of fitness instructor Joshua Love.
Gailewicz, who works out four times a week at home, admits the boot camp is difficult. But, he says, it gives him "a fresh mind going into a meeting."
As Americans become more concerned about obesity and increasingly tune into TV shows such as The Biggest Loser, hotels are expanding their offerings to lure health-conscious business travelers beyond a small room with free weights and StairMasters.
Some are testing providing individual rooms with equipment for guests seeking privacy as they sweat it out. Some chains are even building brands around staying fit. Others, such as the Viceroy Santa Monica, are bringing in trainers for heavy-duty workouts such as you'd find in a boxing gym or at military boot camp.
Guests at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner and the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, for instance, can stay in a Yoga Room or Cardio Room, each with a king bed and all the equipment needed to work out, including on-demand videos. The rooms are being tested for about six months and could expand to other Hiltons.
Holiday Inn parent IHG is taking the concept to another level, launching a new brand called EVEN Hotels that will focus on wellness and fitness.
Programs not for dabblers
A number of hotels are offering rigorous courses. Much of that is personalized, with physical fitness trainers on hand to make traveling for work really seem like work.
"In some of the fitness centers, hotels have offered for the longest time a very blah, plain vanilla middle-of-the road option for everyone," says Chekitan Dev, associate professor of strategic marketing and brand management at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. "Ten, 15 years ago, most people were OK with that. Now, one-size-fits-all doesn't work for everyone."
Love, president of Kinema Fitness, which has partnered with the Viceroy, begins each beach boot camp with 5- to 10-minute assessments to get each guest's health history, injuries and fitness goals.
A typical exercise involves drawing two lines in the sand, starting with one exercise such as a squat, then running to the other line and doing 10 to 15 push-ups. He'll make each guest repeat that a few times.
Love says many of his clients are business travelers who find staying fit on the road a struggle.
"From what I've noticed, they want something different," he says. "They're working out at home, but they want to change it up on the road."
Last month, the Fairmont Washington, D.C., in Georgetown launched a boot camp for guests and neighbors. Clients have the option of doing an eight-week training program for $45 a week or can drop into any of the twice-a-week classes for $25. The program includes interval training with low-intensity activity. The Fairmont Pittsburgh has a similar program.