Staying Fit While You Wait For Your Flight

By Jessica Taryn

Travelers and airline staff are discovering the convenience of airport gymnasiums.
Travelers and airline staff are discovering the convenience of airport gymnasiums.

Traveling is entirely unpredictable. You may have the most precise agenda, but there will likely be changes made throughout your trip.

Many travelers spend hours sitting in airports due to missed or bumped flights, mechanical problems, weather conditions prohibiting a plane from taking off, or many other issues beyond the traveler’s control. While it may be frustrating to still be sitting in an airport after reading every magazine on the stand, you can now spend your time productively while relieving your stress and boredom.
Many airports across America are starting to open gyms right in the terminals for the use of airport staff and travelers stuck in the airport.

“It is an ideal location. It really makes a lot of sense,” says Bob Schaffner, 24 Hour Fitness Sales Manager. “They want people there three hours before flights, and planes are cancelled and stopped and then the weather delays or people are on standby and can’t catch anything until later. Working out certainly beats spending all day at the airport bar drinking.”

Ideal Location

24 Hour Fitness is located directly above the baggage claim in Las Vegas, Nevada’s McCarren airport. They sell on average 10 visitor passes each day. Airport gyms do not only benefit travelers; pilots, flight attendants and airport employees are the base of membership at the clubs.

Jim Gulliford, a fleet service employee of McCarren Airport, and long-time member of 24 Hour Fitness, says, “I tell people all the time that are considering joining this gym, that if you’ve ever thought of putting a gym in your home, there’s no need. Here you never have to wait for equipment, and it has all basic equipment to get good workout.”

When airport gyms are open 24 hours a day, travelers don't have to wait to use equipment.
When airport gyms are open 24 hours a day, travelers don’t have to wait to use equipment.

“I would probably spend my time eating,” said Gulliford, laughing.Gyms in airports are a great substitute for what people would otherwise do to fill their free time.

Gulliford has attended fitness centers near or in airports in Los Angeles, CA as well as Chicago, IL. He hopes to see more open up in the near future. “It’s a perfect location,” he said.

For pilots who only have short layovers, the airport gym is a perfect way to pass time.

Looks Forward to Layovers

“We only get paid when we’re actually operating the airplanes, so I used to hate layovers, but now that I started working out during the breaks, I actually look forward to them,” said America West pilot, Linda Christopherson, who has used multiple one day passes.

Most pilots have very short layovers and do not have time to leave the airport. But with a gym right in the terminal, it is a great way to stay healthy, and occupied at the airport.

“At airports that do not have gyms, I usually just eat or shop. Working out is much better, and it is good for our job too- keeps us more focused… It’s a very good way of counteracting the stress of the job and all the sitting (the passengers and flight staff) do,” Christopherson said.


As fitness becomes more of a trend in America, and it is a main concern for people to stay healthy and in shape, airport fitness centers become more necessary.

“People travel to cater to their other priorities in life, such as business, or to visit family. But people want to make fitness a priority in their lives as well. We enable them to do that while traveling,” said Patty Guinto, 24 Hour Fitness Spokesperson.

“We have shorts and T-shirts to buy for people who don’t have clothes with them to work out in,” said Sachko Tzintzev, of the Hilton Hotel gym at the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. Some gyms also offer disposable bathing suits, while others have clothing and sneakers to rent.

Most airport gyms have showers, steam rooms, saunas and supply towels to their guests and members. It is a great way to relax or work off some of the stress of traveling, especially because you don’t have to deal with the trouble of going through security again. You never have to leave your terminal.

It’s hard to adhere to a workout schedule while traveling, but with the convenience of a health club within the airport terminal, people are likely to spend their down time working out.

There are also many gyms within five to 25 miles of various airports around the country. If there is a big layover or delay, taxis or shuttles are available from the airport to these health clubs, which are listed on the Airport Gyms website.

Jessica Taryn

Jessica Taryn is an attorney in Long Island, NY.

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