Poll: How Much Would You Pay to Use a Hotel Gym?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

A few months ago, I blogged about how "fit people" are usually in the habit of working out when they travel. It's a good habit to have, because exercise should be a permanent part of your healthy lifestyle, even when you're on vacation. I know that I plan for fitness, packing my workout shoes or portable equipment whenever I'll be away from home; and from the sounds of it, lots of you do, too.

This past weekend I was in San Diego for the Spark Your Life Convention, which kept me away from home (Ohio) for a few days. It was my fist work-related trip, believe it or not, and even though it was short—just two nights in a hotel—I planned for fitness by packing my workout clothes, shoes, and iPod. Before I left home, I checked the hotel website—Hooray! They had a gym, and I planned to exercise there on Friday after arriving to my hotel.

I got to my lovely room, checked my little book of "guest services" to find the gym's location and hours. It was open, so I got dressed and headed downstairs only to find the gym with its doors locked. I turned to the staff person at the desk behind me, and she informed me that I had to fill out a waiver…oh and I had to pay $15 per day to use the gym!

That led me to wonder: How much would YOU pay to use a hotel gym?

I have to say, I was floored! This was a very nice hotel and its gym was equally beautiful. $15 for a single workout, when I'm already paying a pretty penny to stay in this swanky place? I don't think so. I think that what upset me most is that I assumed it would be included in my hotel costs, especially since the hotel website and room information didn't mention anything about a fee. I was there for work, but I couldn't justify listing this expense, not even on SparkPeople's dime! I stared at the waiver and explained to the woman that none of the resources I checked (website and hotel room) mentioned a fee. I told her, "I don't know if I could justify this expense to my employer," and I was ready to turn around and just head outside for a nice jog. (If you're wondering why I didn't do that in the first place, being that I was in San Diego, you don't know how bad my sense of direction is.) The woman was very nice and to my surprise, she said, "Don't worry about it. Just sign the waiver and I'll take care of the fee—but just for today."

SCORE! The gym was lovely and I was the only one there. I picked a treadmill facing the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the hotel pool. I was on a tight schedule, so I fit in 30 minutes of cardio and some stretching before heading to my obligations later that day. If I had to pay for the gym, even as nice as it was, no doubt about it, I would have said no and headed outdoors. (Although I'd probably still be lost in downtown San Diego as a result.) I don't travel much; I assumed that when a hotel had a gym, it was a given that it was free for guests to use it. Big mistake! Next time, I'll call the front desk before I travel to be sure, but when I'm already shelling out the dough for a room, you better believe I won't be paying extra money just to use a treadmill for 30 minutes.

How about you: Have you ever paid extra money to use a hotel gym? Would you pay to work out at a hotel if it was the only option? If so, how much?

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    I could get a day pass at my gym for cheaper than that. And I've never been in a hotel that didn't have a free pool so I'd just use that instead. - 8/5/2010   12:46:02 PM
  • 476
    I have not paid extra to work out while on vacation BUT I have made sure the place had a gym before I made reservations. I felt good about that. I enjoy working out. - 7/25/2010   1:49:47 PM
  • 475
    Wow, this is really a tough one. Depending on the cost, I'd probably pay it if there were no other options. Working out has become a part of my life and I feel as if I HAVE to do it. - 7/8/2010   10:32:12 AM
  • SYLSI55
    I think that having to pay for excercising is crazy... but I have paid... why? because in certain places there is no safe track as for walking alone... but I always try to stay in a hotel that would not charge extra for using the gym... there are some hotels that have a gym kit you can borrow and excercise at your room... - 6/19/2010   11:43:22 AM
    If it wasn't free, I might pay $5.00. But that's about it. - 6/17/2010   3:22:41 PM
  • 472
    I travel 50% of the time and only stay in hotels that offer 24 hour gym. Some charge, but most do not. I suppose they feel that they would have to include the costs of running, cleaning, and using overhead for the gym as part of EVERYONE's room cost, when only a small fraction of the guests actually use the gym. So they make it a la carte so to speak. One way or the other, you are paying. A lot of the hotels that cater to business whould see a gym as a must have, and the more upscale hotels have wonderful facilities. Smaller hotels (Residence Inn, Holiday Inn, etc.) usually have crummy gyms just so they can say they have one, and keep their room rates lower to compete. I think resort type hotels are more likely to charge. - 6/16/2010   10:45:08 AM
  • 471
    I think that it is outrageous that a hotel charges for a gym. You pay enough already at most hotels. What next, charging for the pool? You can get a workout without a gym. - 6/16/2010   9:48:02 AM
  • KJE_3001
    I am a frequent traveler for work. Until several months ago, I didn't check out the gym situation in most hotels (I hadn't become disciplined enough yet!). However, my employer will reimburse me for a small gym fee when I travel - those of you who travel for business should ask about the travel policy, as both companies I have worked for allow for that expense. It may not be common, but some do it and it is better to ask than assume they won't. Also, I stay at Hilton Garden Inn frequently, and they recently started a new program where you can check out a fitness kit for use in your room (check it out here: http://www.stayhgi.com/en/gi/promot
    ). So far, it has always been free for me. Another option if you're traveling with a laptop is to bring along a fitness dvd. Many rooms are large enough to exercise in, and you've already paid for that!

    I would probably consider anything above $10 for a gym to be too expensive. Most "business traveler chains" won't charge for their gym, whereas the swankier hotels do. Although I don't like the fee, it is expensive to maintain the facilities. Especially when relatively few people are disciplined enough to exercise during work trips or vacations, the hotel would need to charge more per person than a fitness gym would to recoup the costs. Personally, I would prefer a slightly higher per night fee built into the cost of the room, but like the airlines, many hotels haven't figured out that fees turn people off. - 4/16/2010   11:57:48 AM
    After 3 months of pure dedication at the gym, my spouse and I did Vegas last week. I got up early, convinced hubby to join me and with exercise clothes on headed to the concierge to locate the workout facilities. I was shocked that it was $30.00 a day ( so $60.00 for the two of us!!) just to use the equipment. It apparently included the spa but just for showering etc, ( no other treatments) I was so disappointed, we ended walking the strip each day but it wasnt the same.
    But the cost of the gym for 4 days was more than our airfare and hotel on this trip! - 4/14/2010   1:35:05 AM
  • 468
    I wouldn't pay to use it either... It never ceases to amaze me though, how the nicer the hotels are, the more fees they charge. It's usually a 2-2.5 star hotels that have everything...free wi-fi, free gym...etc. Although I do fantasize about using a fancy gym once in a while though. ha - 4/13/2010   3:50:06 PM
  • 467
    I would not pay to use a hotel gym. If I were staying at the hotel for business purposes, I'm certain that a gym usage fee would not be considered a reimbursable expense. If I were staying at the hotel on my own dime, I'd probably be pretty irked at the feeling of being nickel-and-dimed. If the gym was pay-to-use, I'd probably just find a stairwell and climb stairs, or I'd go outside for a jog/walk (weather and time permitting). - 4/13/2010   10:21:35 AM
  • 466
    I have never had to pay before but the maximum I would pay is $5.00 and I would hope they provided workout towels and water free of charge! - 4/12/2010   12:25:42 PM
    Zero dollars, never had to pay for a hotel workout room and never would - 4/11/2010   2:31:34 PM
  • 464
    None. I would bring my restistance bands and mp3 player. I believe any pool or exercise room should be part of the hotel's charges - 4/10/2010   9:50:02 AM
  • 463
    The hotel is charging enough--they certainly don't need to nickel and dime guests by adding that cost! Ridiculous. I wouldn't pay. - 4/8/2010   9:45:55 PM
    I would not pay anything to use a gym anywhere, anytime. God created things to be done outside to enjoy his creation. Why do them indoors staying in place? Get outside, enjoy the weather and most of all bask in God's great glory - especially when you're here in our great city of San Diego. I'm fortunate enough to get to run in downtown San Diego every day at work. There's nothing like running along the water that is only a few steps away from you - it's even more spectacular on a day like today when the temp is going to be upwards of 80 degrees! - 4/8/2010   1:29:32 PM
  • 461

    I would hope I wouldn't have to pay extra.. Most places offer a lot of amentities since some hotels are not cheap. It would depend on how much and how long I was going to stay. - 4/7/2010   1:36:06 PM
  • 460
    I think you'll find the gym charge is more common in big cities. I've never seen it at the small chains that just have a room with a couple treadmills and a bike or two. The larger fitness facilities are often run as a 'health club' and people not staying at the hotel pay to use them. Most have a discounted rate - ie $10 for one day, or $20 to use as much as you want during your longer stay. I've paid that in New York City, and didn't think it unreasonable to use a nice facility. - 4/7/2010   8:31:36 AM
  • 459
    I think you'll find the gym charge is more common in big cities. I've never seen it at the small chains that just have a room with a couple treadmills and a bike or two. The larger fitness facilities are often run as a 'health club' and people not staying at the hotel pay to use them. Most have a discounted rate - ie $10 for one day, or $20 to use as much as you want during your longer stay. I've paid that in New York City, and didn't think it unreasonable to use a nice facility. - 4/7/2010   8:31:26 AM
  • 458
    I would not pay extra for the use of a hotel gym. It should be included in the price of the room. It's an amenity used to get you to choose their establishment. Sidewalk and air are free. That's always an option like you said. - 4/7/2010   7:24:31 AM
  • 457
    I wouldn't pay to use a hotel gym. I think that should be included in the total cost of the hotel stay. - 4/5/2010   3:31:26 PM
  • 456
    I stayed in a wonderful hotel in Chicago (the Omni) and they had a gorgeous gym. It was free at the time. I'm not sure if they charge now.

    A hotel with a nice, free gym will have my loyalty and I'll not only stay there but will tell my friends about it too. It's smart advertising on their part. I'd be willing to pay $10 (even though at home my gym membership at a great gym is only $10 a month) because it would keep the momentum going, keep me in shape, help me burn calories, and help destress from the trip, but more than $10, no.

    Hotels that charge more than a few dollars for one time use (under an hour!) are doing themselves a disservice because that is NOT customer friendly regardless of their justification. Sorry YankeeGirl, I hear you when you talk about your experience in the industry, but I'd rather pay more for the room or in the restaurant and have the gym free. It just seems cheap and money hungry to charge customers for gym use rather than offering it as a great amenity. - 4/3/2010   1:04:17 PM
    I would not pay any additional money to use a hotel gym. I think it's just another way to get more money from the consumer, it should be included in the cost of the room.. - 2/12/2010   6:11:25 PM
  • 454
    Fees like this certainly add an unpleasant surprise when costs for the "better" hotels are already so high. Floor mats are lightweight and portable. Swiss balls are easy to take along as well. I would probably choose to take my own equipment or do body weight exercises and aerobics in my room. - 2/12/2010   1:52:15 PM
  • 453
    Most of the hotels gyms I've used are small and soemtimes the equipment was old. If the hotel had a better equipment gym (some hotels have a l;arge enough gym that you can actually get a membership) than I would be willing to pay $5 or $10. Thru my local gym, I can sign up for a pass program that allows me to workout at other gyms in other cities (but not my home town). The fees vary from $10 per day to up to $50 (that one was in NYC). - 2/12/2010   12:53:46 AM
  • 452
    As a non Gym user I think it should be extra. I only stay in hotels for holidays and usually I only want a bed to sleep, a bathroom and I am out all day. How much does it cost to use a gym as a one off session? I know they usually try and sell you a package with ongoing fees or advanced payment. I think $10 would be OK or perhaps they could affiliate with a chain gym - 2/11/2010   7:14:49 PM
  • 451
    As a 20 year veteran of the hospitality industry, I'd like to point out that often when there is a fee to use a hotel gym, it is because that it is contracted or leased space. The hotel is also paying for that.

    Also, industry wide in North America, room rates, adjusted for inflation, are at an all time low especially for upscale and luxury properties (where an access fee is most likely to be charged). Hotels are making that up other places, not just gym fees.

    My property is looking to upgrade our workout facilities. Since I use them regularly, I'm all about it. To be honest, the increase in the liability insurance alone to expand the facility is cost prohibitive at this time. Really nice hotel gyms are very expensive to maintain. - 2/11/2010   10:36:00 AM
  • 450
    I share your outrage!!! Las Vegas is the worst. I've never paid to use the gym, but if I was really desperate I might pay up to $10--they all seem to be more than that. - 2/10/2010   9:03:25 PM
  • 449
    I think $5 would be my limit. Though there is the fitness channel on TVs usually! I forgot about that. But it would really depend on how long I was staying. I might just skip a day of cardio and just do some crunches, sit-ups, etc instead. - 2/10/2010   2:03:45 PM
  • 448
    Every hotel I have stayed at that had a gym, the gym was free to use. Most times it is locked and you have to use your room swipe card to get in. I would not pay for using a gym at a hotel. It should be an amenity that comes with your room charge. I would find some other form of exercise instead. - 2/10/2010   8:51:10 AM
    I would not pay to use a gym at a hotel. Go outside and enjoy. Even if it's snowing. It's a great way to see the sights. Who knows what you might end up experiencing. One time I walked to a dentist appt in our town that we've lived in most of our lives. It was a 40 min walk. My son was floored by all the new sights. People we are missing too much. Get out and see for yourselves. - 2/10/2010   8:40:33 AM
    the only hotel i have stay in that had a gym, i was on a NASCAR vacation so we walked ALOT around the track. I understood it was free, but i was bushed every time we got back to the hotel from the day's events so i never even checked to see if the door was unlocked. - 2/9/2010   2:24:37 PM
  • LAURENM8485
    I would pay up to $20 a day for a nice gym at a hotel. I think having to pay for the gym would make me more apt to go so I wouldn't be wasting my money! - 2/9/2010   1:09:33 PM
    I was on vacation in Chicago this summer & the fee was $15 dollars. Instead of paying for the fee I ran outside. Having written this, when I visit my MIL , I pay $15 dollars to workout at the local YMCA in Tulsa. I am cheap, but it is worth it b/c it helps me stay in shape. - 2/9/2010   12:39:55 PM
    Many hotels have free printed walking or running maps available at the front desk or with the concierge. These often show a good, safe route past interesting landmarks. A person can exercise and see the sights at the same time. - 2/9/2010   11:58:19 AM
    I would not pay to use a gym at a hotel. I think the hotels provide this as a 'get you in' same as wi-fi and HBO. If they are going to charge - I'm going elsewhere. - 2/9/2010   11:35:47 AM
  • 441
    If the hotel had an actual gym and not just a treadmill and a set of weights, I would consider paying. - 2/9/2010   11:04:26 AM
    I paid $5 a day to workout while we were in Cozumel on vacation last summer. Obviously I'd have preferred it be free, but it was worth the money for me to keep up my exercise routine. - 2/9/2010   10:55:13 AM
    Based on what the room rates are nowadays. I wouldn't pay extra to use their facility. I think they should require a room key to access it, to make sure it's only guests who are using it. That way you don't have people off the streets coming in and running it down. - 2/9/2010   9:50:54 AM
  • 438
    There is no way I would pay $15 to use the gym but it is becoming standard practice. I would have to work something out (you should always ask to be comped) or find something to do outside. - 2/9/2010   2:29:15 AM
  • 437
    I wouldn't mind paying an extra $10 or $20 for a gym, but only if with that gym came a sauna, hot tub and nice locker room. - 2/8/2010   11:38:42 PM
    sometimes the gym is free if you get a manicure or pedicure. Most hotels I expect it to be included and when they are not I negotiate with the manager of the gym or hotel. Only once did the hotel not comp the gym when I said I wasn't likely to stay in that chain again. there were other issues in that chain I haven't stayed in one since. I once paid 15dollars but once the fee was paid the gym manager used the same receipt for the whole week. wink wink - 2/8/2010   10:10:43 PM
  • 435
    With YMCA memberships you can go anywhere to their locations and workout on their travel pass for free as part of your membership, and visiting them is like only $5 for the day too. I would not pay for gym access at a hotel, like many before me have said they charge enough for the rooms alone, that should be included or not so much. - 2/8/2010   8:39:47 PM
  • 434
    I have seen hotels ask guests to pay for gym access before, but I never pay to use a gym. For instance, last weekend I was in San Francisco and stayed at the Hilton Union Square -- they charge $15 for gym access. The pool is free but outdoors. Instead of paying for the gym, I just walked on the embarcadero and took buses everywhere - lots of walking in the course of the day.

    It is tempting to pay only when I'm not certain of the safety of the area my hotel is in, or it gets late at night before I can get time to work out. I have never paid yet. I just skip the workout, which is not ideal.

    Consensus here is that max $5 is appropriate and I agree. But I think charging for every extra amenity possible is the way of the future. Tourism is down, so hotels can't raise prices much to cover increased costs of energy and staffing. Nickel and diming us is the way they seem to be approaching the problem. - 2/8/2010   7:57:24 PM
  • 433
    What I find funny is that the more upscale the hotel the more likely you are to be charged extra for things like gym access. You would think it would be the other way around but I guess they think people will pony up because they've got the money to stay in an upscale place or else they assume you're putting it on your expense account! They look pretty closely at those expense reimbursements these days! - 2/8/2010   7:06:32 PM
  • 432
    I absolutely would not pay to use a hotel gym. There was a time when I would have said it's because I really don't love exercise enough to get to the gym when I'm traveling, but I proved myself wrong the last time I was in a hotel. The prices for hotel rooms these days just don't justify paying an additional amount for gym use. As a matter of fact, that could be the deciding factor for which hotel I stay in. There are too many hotels with free gym access, to stay at one that charges. - 2/8/2010   5:01:22 PM
  • 431
    I absolutely would not pay for a gym at a hotel I was staying at. My hubby and I do a lot of camping. So when we are on the road, we have been known to stop at local gyms. That is usually $12 to $15 each. That's not easy to do either, since we will be paying for both of us. I think I would be finding other ways to get a workout in. - 2/8/2010   4:29:25 PM
  • 430
    Not for anything would I pay extra to workout at a hotel. I won't even pay for a gym, where I'm more often than not surrounded by perfectly fit and exercise-y people who look down on me for being Not Like Them. If I'm at a hotel, it can either offer me a complimentary use of the exercise room or not offer it at all. - 2/8/2010   2:45:59 PM
  • 429
    $15 is not worth it. $5 maybe, but I would rather use the pool, stairs, walk outside. It better be free! hahaha. Guess I'll have to ask next time I travel (which isn't often). - 2/8/2010   2:34:26 PM
  • 428
    Do they also charge to use the pool? If not, I'd use the pool for my workout or take a walk - 2/8/2010   12:57:38 PM

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