February 19, 2014

Exercising at the Airport

What a long day of travel it has been! My trip to Nice was fun, but the real price of my cheap ticket was that it took almost 24 hours each way getting there (thanks to a strange routing going from Dallas to Mexico City to Paris and finally to Nice).

This morning, I had a four seven hour layover in Mexico City (thanks to some delays), and I knew I would have to go straight to the office from the airport. Furthermore, I had meetings scheduled till 8pm, and then a business dinner after that… so literally no time to work out. Of course it’s not the end of the world to skip a day, but after 11 hours on a plane from Paris to Mexico City, I was pretty restless and ready to move!

The latest trend in airport lounges has been for them to add spas, offering massages, manicures, and even facials. I took advantage of the free manicure when I was flying out of the DFW Centurion Lounge on Friday, and it was definitely nice to be able to primp like that.

Nails Courtesy Of Centurion Lounge DFW
I was in and out in 15 minute and the best part was, it was totally free!

But what I’d really love to see would be more airport lounges offering a gym. The new “yoga rooms” at DFW, LAX, and ORD have gotten a lot of attention lately, but if I’m going to take the time to get into gym clothes and work out, I’d prefer to do something more intense than just yoga. (In fact, when I tried out the DFW yoga room, I played Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown DVD on my laptop instead of using the less-strenuous-and-more-soothing yoga tape that was provided.) My wish: for airport lounges to start offering gyms, perhaps even at a nominal fee for non-members.

It wouldn’t need to be anything too complicated – I’d be pretty happy with 2-4 pieces of cardio equipment (depending on the size of the airport/club) and a single set of free weights. The lounge could charge something reasonable like $20/day for access to the gym and shower facilities (which most international lounges already have); for those who already have club membership, I still think people would pay extra (say, $10/day) for access to the gym. I know I would! Even if you only got 10 travelers using the gym a day, you’d break even on the equipment investment in less than a month… and there really wouldn’t be much additional cost besides insurance, which presumably they could limit through a restrictive waiver.

Having a gym at the airport would also be really convenient to avoid wasted time when dealing with the security theater that is TSA. On Mondays, I usually catch a 6am flight – which means I have to get up at 4:30am in order to shower and squeak into the airport by 5:40am. (Yes, I cut it very close.) But after my last few trips to my new home in DEN, I’ve discovered that I can’t get through security there nearly as fast as I could at LGA; plus, the lines seem to be much more variable. It would be so awesome if I could just plan to get to the airport an hour before boarding, adjust my workout time accordingly, and then shower right before hopping on the plane!

Unfortunately, this “gym at the airport” thing isn’t a reality in most places. But with a little creativity (and a lack of self-consciousness), you can make your own gym. This morning at MEX (Mexico City airport), I discovered that the unique layout had lots of empty one-story staircases throughout the main corridor, used for accessing the clubs on the second floor. But since there were so many staircases, most of them were little-trafficked… and I took advantage of that to get in a workout.

I had already been wearing athletic gear on the plane, so I dropped my stuff off at one of the lounges that had a shower, and then hit the stairs by the Centurion Club for sprints while listening to a Jillian Michaels podcast. It definitely got monotonous going up and down the same set of stairs, but the podcast helped, and I was just thrilled to get a little exercise in after sitting for so long. Post-workout, I headed back to the lounge and hit the showers –which I was going to do anyway after sleeping on the flight from Paris. I think next time I’m at Denver International Airport, I’m going to keep an eye out for quiet staircases / lounges with showers so that I can get into a similar routine there!

Stairs at MEX Airport
Although these stairs were kind of out of the way, a few travelers did walk by… and one gave me the thumbs up! Maybe we all need to just get a little braver about doing our thing and breaking convention?

Would you use airport gyms if they were available?


2 thoughts on “Exercising at the Airport”

  1. You know, I’m not sure. I almost missed a flight to Japan when I decided to walk the ATL concourse because I wanted to get exercise before sitting for 12+ hours. Plus, I don’t like public showers.

    1. I had a pair of flip flops in my bag, so was able to use those for the shower! But some lounges have disposable flip flops they’ll give you as well.

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