ROSEMONT, IL—For many, fitness is not just a hobby—it’s a lifestyle and one that doesn’t take a vacation. Exercise can increase energy levels and maintain vitality while on the road. Hotels with dedicated fitness centers are standard, but what differentiates properties from one another is the customer service, focused attention to fine details and the quality of equipment.
Life Fitness, a manufacturer of cardio, strength and group training products based here, knows exercise equipment and its benefits—for hoteliers as well as the user. Founded in 1977, the company launched the fitness industry’s first electronic stationery bike and has gone on to produce fitness products for home and health facilities around the world.
“It was industry-leading at the time,” said Kim Land, national accounts manager for hospitality, Life Fitness. “The company started out in the health club market and as years went on and exercise became a part of daily life, people began to look for different ways to incorporate it; hospitality was a sector that emerged. The hospitality market over the past 20 years has continued to grow exponentially due to demand of the business, destination and resort travelers. They want a nice fitness facility to continue their regime on the road. Our equipment is so well known throughout the world and so, to see it in a hotel fitness center, guests can see the brand has good equipment.”
Land is a witness to the company’s commitment to helping clients meet their own health and wellness goals, and has seen the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
“When things are stagnant and life passes you by, it’s not as enjoyable physically or emotionally. We want to make fitness accessible, not a hurdle. We want to help eliminate the excuses in order to make it enjoyable,” she said. “Part of that mission is good design. There should be a nice look to it and entertainment on the cardio equipment to keep the person on the equipment longer to get the benefit of exercising. Whether it is TV, Netflix or Lifescape courses with a virtual trail or competing against people you know or don’t know, it keeps them involved and they get better results. You feel good.”
In terms of guest engagement, Life Fitness offers Lifescape courses that are educational as well as a fun workout. Not everyone can run a trail in Switzerland, but with this technology, Land noted, “It’s very realistic and speaks to the need for escapism. Our hospitality customers like that feature and they want trails that have a synergy to where the property is located. The demand for new features is growing more and more, and people do enjoy it.”
Fitness trends come and go—Tae Bo anyone?—but from Land’s vantage point she believes there are a couple that have staying power. In addition, the clientele has changed, ranging from baby boomers to millennials to hardcore fitness buffs, creating a range of needs.
“People want diversity in cardio, but some fitness rooms are smaller so you stick with staple products. If there is space, it’s nice to add more. We’ll offer a Powermill, a revolving staircase, but it will be a sleeker, smaller version. We have rowers and indoor cycling bikes. The ICG bikes have a tablet type of console and users interact with it,” she said. “Another trend is functional strength training. You’ll see the kettlebells, slam rollers and those accessory types of equipment used by personal trainers and in CrossFit. Rather than recommend a multi-station or pulley piece, we have Synergy 360T to provide a multiple-type functional training.”
Hoteliers are listening and they’re responding to the evolving tastes of travelers with innovative offerings. “We’re seeing cutting-edge wellness rooms where guests are charged a little more, but inside of the room are pieces of cardio equipment, a wall with TRX and all of the band accessories, and different types of functional training equipment for use in the room. Hotels are also starting to adapt more nutritious food. Guests really want to see a recognizable brand of equipment. They want to see a brand they use at home,” she concluded.