Working It Out on the Go

The airline travel experience accommodates most of our modern lifestyle obsessions, from greasy fast food options in every terminal to mobile charging stations at every gate and even wi-fi now on most flights. But there is one modern lifestyle obsession that the airport/airline industry has yet to catch on to and accommodate — fitness.

Frequent business travelers often struggle to stay fit and healthy on the go, and the delicious array of increasingly unhealthy food and snack options targeted toward travelers doesn’t help matters. Even the trendy new “health” food cafes popping up in some terminals often serve up little more than gourmet fast food. While such cuisine may be prettier and more exotic, it’s usually still quite fattening, leaving the health-conscious traveler with few options short of starvation.

But if we can have nearly every type of food establishment in airports, a diverse array of retail shops (from souvenir stores and news stands to Brookstone and now Minute Suites), why have we not seen some type of gym or fitness facility pop up in airports yet?

Other sub-sectors of the travel industry recognize the importance of fitness facilities to the lives and lifestyles of on-the-go people, most notably the hotel industry. These days, a hotel without a fitness center, even a small one, is like a hotel without internet access — you just don’t see it, even at budget hotels.

So why have we yet to see pay-to-play fitness areas in airports? Many frequent travelers who have to layover at least once or twice a week would pay handsomely to be able to access some basic workout equipment while spending the day in transit and not have to skip a day at the gym. As any fitness-conscious traveler knows, there’s nothing that will ruin a diet or exercise regimen quicker and easier than a missed gym day due to all-day travel.

While we may not see full-service retail gyms in airports anytime soon, perhaps a more realistic expectation is to soon see a workout area in one of the more posh airline lounges. Some, such as Etihad’s lounge in Abu Dhabi and the Emirates lounge in Dubai, do already have full-service spas. A yoga area or cardio room isn’t that much farther of a stretch.

Frequent travelers, especially younger business travelers, don’t just like being pampered. We also like staying fit too, and a service or amenity that catered to this side of our increasingly health-conscious lives would make a welcome addition to our frequent flyer routines.