I don’t always get the luxury of having a hotel gym at the ready when traveling. At home, I work at a boutique gym and have a membership at a big box gym with a very strong west coast presence (read: Tough to find anywhere except California, Oregon and Washington). I lucked out when spending a week in Pennsylvania with a chain near the conference—but with a trip to Nashville and Manhattan coming up, my luck has run out.
I don’t have a problem paying a daily pass for a gym. In fact, I’d love to! I like to see what other gyms have to offer, what their vibe is, and maybe even check out some new equipment. When I travel, I usually like to take my cardio outside and explore the parks and trails. However, there’s only so much you can do when it comes to strength training and building muscle with no equipment. I need those weights, and going a week (or more!) without them won’t just lead to muscle loss. It’ll mean serious soreness when I get back to my normal routine, and that’s a handicap I just can’t take as a lifting instructor.
The Gym Struggle
While preparing for my Nashville trip, I started looking at gyms within a few miles of my Air BnB. Then I looked farther. There are, miraculously, no big box gyms anywhere nearby. I reached out to all of the boutique gyms and was turned down in succession. Nobody wants to offer a daily pass to an out of state visitor, even when I told them I’d pay anything to get in a quick session. (I was, however, routinely pressured into buying memberships, personal training sessions, and group classes even though I repeatedly told them I was only in town for a few days).
The same happened again when I reached out to gyms in New York. I won’t name names, but one particular chain (with an already suffering reputation) featured a phone rep that stuck so closely to the script it was like talking to a robot. Ultimately, though, the answer was no. They wouldn’t let me have day passes, but were happy to try and pair me with a personal trainer and membership. When I told them that I am a personal trainer, I was told “We don’t cater to fitness fanatics.”
I get it. I know gyms make a lot of money by banking on members that sign up, pay, and never show up. Offering a day pass, even at a premium rate, ensures that the visitor will be using that pass. And they don’t know what kind of resources you’ll be draining. Hogging equipment, spending hours in the hot tub, taking lengthy showers? It’s all possible. It doesn’t matter that all I really want is 45 minutes with three sets of free weights.
I was, however, able to find a very reasonable solution in both states. In Nashville, the local YMCA offered a day pass along with very generous hours (starting at 5 a.m.!). In New York, I connected with the Young Men & Young Women Hebrew Association (which, by the way, doesn’t care what a visitor’s background entails when signing you up!). The YMCA’s rates are semi-high at $15 per day, but at the Young Men & Young Women Hebrew Association, I’m being charged just $10 total with unlimited access for the week I’m there.
More than the access to these facilities and, in New York’s case, the very affordable rates, I also linked up with some very kind and understanding managers. There were no sales, no hoop-jumping, and no wasted time. It took looking outside what we consider “traditional gyms” to find a solution that worked for me.
Where and how do you get gym access when traveling and hotel fitness rooms aren’t an option?