Got a Layover? Squeeze in a Workout

Stuck between flights? At these popular airports (and many others), you can burn calories while you kill time.
Man on treadmill

It's said that genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration. Both perspiration and inspiration figured into the idea for AirportGyms.com, a website that chronicles more than 200 exercise facilities across the country where vacationers and business travelers alike can sidestep the food court and work up a sweat.

The idea came to founder Kevin Gillotti, a web designer and avid athlete, when he was stuck in the Houston airport during a six-hour layover on his way to a duathalon (a running-cycling-running race). He realized how ridiculous it was that he had to resort to jogging in place in one of the biggest airports in the country. “I’ve got this big race coming up and my blood needs to be pumping,” he explains. “That’s when I had the epiphany that something like this needed to exist.”

Today AirportGyms.com is a resource for travelers of all fitness levels. Several gyms listed are located inside airport terminals, while others are a short taxi ride away, but all represent a great way to sneak in a quick workout and combat some of the negative effects of traveling (like stress, fatigue, cramping, and even the risk of blood clots from sitting for prolonged periods).

Below are our favorite picks in (or near) well-traveled hubs. Keep your carry-on bag stocked with running shoes, light workout clothes, a small towel, and toiletries, and you’ll always be ready to rack up activity PointsPlus® values along with frequent-flier miles.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas (DFW)
An airport big enough to have its own ZIP code had better have some good exercise options, right? The Grand Hyatt DFW hotel (connected to International Terminal D) has a 24-hour rooftop pool and a fitness center that offers Life Fitness Cross Trainers, exercise bikes, treadmills, free weights, weight machines, and a steam room. A day pass (for the pool and gym) is $33. “That’s a small price to pay to know I got a good workout in before I get on an eight-hour flight,” says Gillotti.

LaGuardia Airport, New York (LGA)
Most gyms aren’t attached to the airport, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them during a long layover. “When you start getting into a three-hour window, that’s when you can grab a taxi, go get a workout, and then get back through security,” Gillotti explains. Just a 3-mile cab ride from New York City’s most central airport, the Rock Health and Fitness Club in Astoria, Queens, boasts 30,000 square feet with a boxing studio, isometric equipment, and the real highlight, a 30-foot rock-climbing wall. A day pass costs $20.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
In early 2012, a 150-square-foot storage room in Terminal 2 was converted into a relaxing yoga studio that’s free to all ticketed passengers — the first of its kind in the world. (Fun fact: SFO designed its own “yoga” icon since it didn’t exist in the guide of airport pictograms.) Even better, there are no cell phones allowed. FlySFO.com

Minnesota-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
It may not have fancy equipment, but the busiest airport in the upper Midwest has something the others don’t: a 1.4-mile walking loop through the main terminal, clearly marked with overhead signs. The track opened as part of the American Heart Association’s Start Walking program in 2007. MSPAirport.com

Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
Take a 10-minute taxi ride to the World Gym East Fort Lauderdale. The $10 guest pass includes a locker.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
Located in the Edward H. McNamara Terminal, the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport hotel’s state-of-the-art WestinWORKOUT gym lets you use free weights, treadmills, stair machines, and exercise bikes for $15 per day. Fun fact: Should you desire to stay overnight in the Westin, you can get a room equipped with a stationary bike or treadmill, plus a medicine ball, fitness mat, and Pilates DVD.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
For $18, you can spend your layover in the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel’s recently-upgraded workout room. It overlooks the U.S. departures area, so it’s designed for people-watching. In addition to the usual array of fitness equipment (rowing machines, treadmills, etc.), you can do wet laps in the three-lane pool (with self-adjusted current). Join the Fairmont President’s Club (free) and you’ll even be able to rent Adidas workout gear or an MP3 player.

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