The New York Times: Holly Perkins Eases the Pain of Workouts on the Road
It’s called the LiveWell Walking Path: a new, nearly milelong route that includes two 55-foot-high staircases for cardio exercise. At one end, the path leads to the yoga studio where, beyond tall screens, barefoot travelers twist and bend while an instructional DVD plays quietly in a continuous loop.
No, this is not a wellness spa in Arizona. It’s Terminal D of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. And it’s just one of the latest additions to a growing class of free or cheap travel amenities that major airports and hotel brands, including Westin (care to borrow some sneakers?) and Kimpton (how about a loaner iPod and pedometer?), are offering to travelers who want to work out while on the go.
We all know that plenty of hotels have 24-hour gyms and group fitness classes, and that some airports provide lavish ways to burn calories, like the Balinese-themed rooftop swimming pool in Changi Airport in Singapore and the golf course abutting Hong Kong International Airport. But the following hotels and airports are betting that they will win over increasingly health-conscious travelers who want practical, effortless solutions, not spa and boot camp vacations. The new perks also mean something else: travelers will soon have fewer excuses for packing on those vacation pounds.
EVEN HOTELS “Travel can be healthier,” says the Web site for Even Hotels, the new chain from the InterContinental Hotel Group, “and we’re here to prove it.” Whether the brand, which will begin rolling out next year in big cities in the United States, will be successful remains to be seen, but the concept may be a hit among travelers who want to stay fit at a mainstream price (though rates will be higher than those at the Holiday Inn brand).
The guest rooms, which were designed with enough floor space for visitors to work out in them, will have coat racks that double as pull-up bars, exercise benches that are also luggage benches, yoga mats and foam rollers. Communal amenities will include a gym, a yoga and exercise studio, group exercise classes and organized activities, like morning runs or walks. A “wellness wall” will offer information about nearby healthful restaurant choices as well as workout or circuit-training guides (which guests can use to train in their rooms or in the gym).
Guests may also request additional exercise equipment to use in their rooms, like jump ropes, medicine balls and weight-lifting bands. An open-air cafe and bar will offer healthful choices like steel-cut oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies and juice. And no need to spend hard-won vacation dollars on bottled water: free filtered drinking water will be available throughout the hotel. (Evenhotels.com)
INK48 There was a time when the only thing a hotel might have on hand for forgetful guests was a toothbrush. But the new “Forgot It, We’ve Got It – Runner’s Edition” kit at Ink48 is free to borrow and includes an iPod shuffle loaded with music; headphones; a sports watch with a built-in pedometer; a running belt; and water bottles and a map of the Hudson River running path. When guests return to their rooms, Gatorade and a Power Bar will be waiting for them. Not a runner? Ink48, a Kimpton hotel, also offers free yoga kits with a mat, block and strap. (Ink48.com)
SHERATON HOTELS & RESORTS Free video-on-demand workouts in the guest rooms and a “workout in a bag” with instructional cards, a mat, foam rollers, a resistance band and a massage stick (free for borrowing) are part of the Core Performance fitness program at Sheraton, which it has been introducing over the last year. Guests can keep working out after they check out by logging onto SheratonFitness.com, which offers online training programs and health and nutrition tips. The site has 20- to 30-minute “travel workouts” too, with names like Jumpstart and Relax, Recover, Regenerate. (SheratonFitness.com)
WESTIN HOTELS AND RESORTS For those who forget their sneakers or would rather not cede precious space in their suitcase to gym clothes, the Westin has started the New Balance Gear Lending Program, which allows guests to borrow workout clothes and sneakers with disposable insoles (hey, it’s more than bowling alleys offer). For $5, guests can request their shoe and clothing size and have workout gear delivered to their rooms. The kits are offered on a first-come first-served basis and include New Balance sneakers and athletic clothes. (There are shirts, shorts and socks for men; and shirts, shorts, capri pants, sports bras and socks for women.)
After working out, guests can simply leave their sweaty clothes and shoes in a mesh bag in their rooms. For those who want to train in private, a television channel in the guest rooms offers equipment-free sessions like stretching and strengthening, cardio and yoga. The workouts were developed by Holly Perkins, a fitness trainer, who also proffers “wellness in travel” tips about nutrition and ways to combat jet lag, like don’t fall asleep with the television on and avoid alcohol during the first 24 hours in a new time zone.
Earlier this year, Westin announced that after researching guest behavior and broader workout trends, it was investing more than $37 million in fitness equipment and programs. It’s now making those changes, like more floor space in its gyms for stretching and yoga, as well as ActiViva Lighting from Philips – blue light technology that the lighting company’s Web site asserts “positively influences well-being.” (WestinNewBalance.com)
DALLAS/FORT WORTH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT In a state known for its barbecue, this airport is striving to be the healthiest in the nation, according to David Magaña, senior manager of public affairs for the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. And the new walking path in Terminal D, stretching seven-tenths of a mile from Gate D6 to Gate D40, is part of the plan to bring the airport closer to that goal. While not the first walking path in an airport, this route incorporates art – 12 colorful floor mosaics – including Arthello Beck’s willowy “Cypress Trees” and Jane Helslander’s riot of circles, “Floating in Space, a Waltz.” Signs that say “Next Stop” let people know which mosaic they are nearing and how many steps they need to take to get there.
For those who build up an appetite, Mr. Magaña said the airport requires concessionaires to provide healthy entrees. And near Gate D40 is the yoga studio, in a once unused alcove and separated from harried passengers and their rolling suitcases by folding screens. Here, travelers can practice sun salutations against a backdrop of big jets. Mr. Magaña said the center was a terminal manager’s idea when he saw some passengers conducting an impromptu yoga session in a gate area. “You don’t need a lot to do yoga,” Mr. Magaña said. And besides, the timing is right: gone are the days when passengers dressed up to go to the airport. Today, Mr. Magaña said, “people just wear yoga pants.” (DFWAirport.com)
INDIANAPOLIS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Timed to coincide with the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day, this spring the airport created three walking routes to help passengers stay fit: a quarter-mile path around the ticketing hall, as well as half-mile laps around each of its two concourses (or a 1.1-mile lap around both concourses). Maps of the walking paths are on the airport’s Web site, and each includes a link to an American Heart Association page where users can log their mileage. (Indianapolisairport.com)
SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Follow the signs that show a bald man in a lotus position and you will reach the new yoga studio in the recently renovated Terminal 2. “Our airport director is a yoga adherent,” said Michael C. McCarron, director of the bureau of community affairs for San Francisco International Airport. He said about $20,000 was spent transforming a former storage space into a cool, blue sanctuary reached through a glass door beneath the words “Yoga Room.” Inside, there is a dark wood floor, a mirrored wall, a bench and some mats. Mr. McCarron said the room, which can be found past security in a terminal for Virgin America and American Airlines, is free and can accommodate five to six people. A sign reminds passengers to remove their shoes (for a more pleasurable reason this time) and to silence their phones, and themselves. There is no video instruction, which Mr. McCarron said is intentional, so that people of varying skill levels feel comfortable practicing at their own pace. “We wanted to make it as simple as possible,” he said.
With amenities like these, a flight delay is just an opportunity to practice downward dog.
For more information on Holly Perkins, click here.