Fitness for Hospitality

By Swarnendu Biswas

With the growing health consciousness, fitness consciousness is also rising in urban Indian society. The need for visiting gyms has become more pronounced among the upper echelons of urban India, though urban middle class India is also getting swayed if not swept by the fitness wave. 

For many urban Indians visiting spas and gyms are graduating or have already graduated f r o m lifestyle statements to integral part of one’s journey towards a fit and healthy life. 

The need to meet the demands of hectic lifestyles, the need to counter the spate of lifestyle diseases, both of which are affecting sizeable population in urban India, growing health consciousness and increase in disposable incomes in select pockets of urban Indian society have together given a fillip to the fitness business in India, which is easily reflected in the mushrooming of gyms across our urban Indian space.  Though the fitness industry in India is largely unorganised, it is growing at an impressive pace. 

In metros and other big cities of India, it is not at all rare to find a gym or more than one gym, even in a middle class locality. No wonder we find gyms in high-end hotels in the country as a common feature, as many business and leisure travellers wouldn’t like disrupting their regular fitness routine, even while on travel. However, our hospitality industry should be more proactive in tapping the lucrative revenue earning potential of the growing fitness business in the country. 

Though gym in five-star hotels across the country has emerged as a mandatory requirement, but there is no reason to believe that a leisure traveller or a business traveller staying in a three-star or a two-star hotel would not mind skipping her/his everyday exercise regimen just because she/he is travelling. 

It is about time for the Indian hotel industry to adopt the fitness culture more vigorously, considering the fact that the demand for visits to gyms has already percolated f r o m the upper echelons of the urban Indian society to the urban upper middle class and middle middle class India, in a not too insignificant manner.
Gyms should not only be a regular feature of five-star and four-star properties, but of hospitality properties in the country having lesser stars too; they should not only be feature of luxury hotels and resorts but budget hospitality properties too. 

In fact, gym is one investment f r o m which small obscure budget hotels or even bed and breakfast hotels in today’s India can also reap good revenues, provided if they can run their gyms intelligently, according to their guests’ profile. Succinctly, the fitness trend in India’s hospitality industry must gain more penetration and momentum than it is gaining at present.

Space, Equipments and Personnel 

However, in order to make their gym a success story, the hospitality property should consult a fitness expert while building a gym, and it is better to plan the design of the gym when the hospitality property is at the planning stage, so as to avoid miscalculation of space.  Moreover, the architect of the hospitality property and the fitness consultant for the to be built gym should have perfect coordination. 

Moreover, the gym should be designed after gauging the number of visitors it would attract in a given day or hour. This would help the gym to have fair amount of space between equipments and preventing f r o m having a cluttered look. It is not very interesting to work out in a cluttered gym, which the guests are likely to avoid. 

Two of the most important requirements for the commercial success of a gym in a hospitality property or rather of any gym in a high-end locality are the installation of the right equipments and hiring of qualified fitness trainers. 

“Gyms in five-star resorts/hotels are not necessarily for body building, but definitely for meeting the daily fitness requirements of their high profile guests. Installation of the top-of-the-line fitness equipments with latest gadgets is needed for gyms housed in five-star hotels and resorts,” expressed Leena Moge, the nationally renowned fitness diva. 
“A five-star hotel’s gym needs to provide the best top of the line equipment with latest gadgetry like touch screens with simulated workout options , along with Internet, e-mail and chat facilities,” affirmed Nikhil Mogre, Director, Leena Mogre’s Fitness.
Of course, the standard of fitness equipments could vary with the profile of the hotel/ resort, but they should be of good quality, irrespective of the profile of the hospitality property concerned.

I queried Sonali Swami, the renowned bodybuilder and fitness trainer, on the human resource support a gym in a five-star or four-star hotel should have. She believes that in high-end gyms in five-star and four-star properties there must be in-house trainer available 24x7. “In addition, in such gyms there must be an expert/well renowned coach or fitness consultant available on demand for clients,” she asserted. 

Fitness Regimens

The role of innovative fitness regimens like Zumba, battle ropes, aqua aerobics, fitness ladder, etc. to attract the discerning crowd to the hotels and resorts should also not be discounted by the management of the hospitality properties. 

Sonali also believes that in a high-end gym, along with the conventional workouts, there should be option for specialised packages covering yoga, Zumba or aerobics on request.

However, setting up a gym in a hospitality property is not only a question of sizeable investment in equipments and fitness trainers. Sophisticated equipments are only part of the story behind a successful gym. The hospitality properties thinking of having gyms should not only have quality equipments and quality fitness trainers with proficiency in an impressive array of fitness styles like yoga, aqua aerobics, kick boxing, TRX, rowing, boot camp, etc. but should also have the options of differentiated fitness regimens, as a guest’s fitness requirements and capacity of endurance can vastly differ f r o m one another.

For fitness regimen which is ideal for the body constitution of one person, may not yield similar results for the other. In fact, with people of all shapes, sizes and medical history taking recourse to gyms, the individualised fitness plans have become the need of the hour in India’s fitness industry, which a hospitality property thinking of opening a gym must take into consideration. Not only different fitness regimens but even customised fitness regimens for a given guest can be explored upon.

However, Leena, who has rich experience of training many Bollywood stars, believes that as personalised fitness regimens are generally developed over a few months, they can work in hospitality properties only for long-term residing guests.

Exposure to Nature
Hospitality properties should have their gyms facing natural scenery wherever possible. For example, if the hospitality property affords views of majestic and sombre mountains or azure blue sea, it is always desirable to have the gym designed in a way so that the guests can do their exercise regimen/s while facing the mountains or the blue waters. This can bring an invigorating experience for the exercising guests, particularly during times of sunrise and sunsets.

If the geographic locations of the hospitality properties don’t afford views of such nature’s bounty, then those properties should at least design their gym in a way so that they face some greenery or swimming pool, at least. 

“Fitness centres in hospitality properties should be facing some form of scenic outdoors, and should have large windows. Exposure to outdoors can enliven the mood of the exercising crowd and give them further incentive towards fitness. Hotels should avoid having a fitness centre in the basement unless it opens to a sunken garden, as it may create a claustrophobic feel and may compromise on the exposure towards clean air,” opined Payal Kapoor, the renowned interior designer, who runs and owns the Delhi-based design firm named Visions.
“Recently I designed a gym of close to 3000 sq. ft. for a resort in Panipat, which overlooks swimming pool and the landscape with large windows,” she disclosed further. 

Hotels and resorts can also spread some facets of their fitness centre outdoors; preferably across a verdant lawn. “Outdoor areas of hotels and resorts can be used for functional training with outdoor racks and frames. These outdoor elements of fitness centre could be located on lawns, near the swimming pool,” elaborated Leena.
“Ideally, gyms should reduce the stress on the client, and hence best possible location for the gym should be opted for. Treadmills and the cardio of a hotel’s or a resort’s gym should ideally face the available natural scenery or the greenery or the swimming pool. The strength area of the gym should be facing the mirrors so that the appropriate form and posture can be observed by the guests,” expressed Leena.  

Other Factors 

“Impeccable ventilation system, proper matting, ample lighting, refreshing colour scheme of the décor, peppy music and inspirational visuals are factors which should contribute towards a gym’s ambience and design,” offered Payal.  

Additional Revenue Routes 

There are ways through which gyms can become major revenue generating avenues for hospitality properties in India. “Additional revenues can be generated through providing expert consultation and personal training by celebrity trainers on request. Clients would not mind paying extra for getting personal training or consultation f r o m celebrity trainers,” opined Sonali, who is the winner of Bronze Medal at Asian Body Building & Physique Sports Championship 2016 (Model Physique Category), which was held in Bhutan, in September 2016.

Similarly, according to her, special group classes on yoga or Zumba can be conducted by celebrity instructors, which can be charged on per class basis. These celebrity trainers may not come to the hospitality properties on a regular basis, but can visit the property say once or twice a week, in lieu of a decent fee, of course.

It could also be a smart idea for gyms in hotels and resorts to have a nationally renowned fitness trainer and/or a bodybuilder on their board. She/he can visit these gyms f r o m time to time to supervise the in-house fitness trainers, develop detailed fitness regimen for these gyms, etc. The fitness icons can also suggest new fitness solutions for the hotels’ and resorts’ guests f r o m time to time, which can enhance footfalls to their gyms and health clubs.

Leena suggested that hospitality properties in India can earn additional revenues f r o m gyms “By opening up the gym memberships to their non-resident guests. The hospitality properties can sell their gym memberships to high net worth individuals at premium rates.”

Gyms or fitness centres with an inbuilt food & beverage outlet serving healthy snacks and beverages can also facilitate in the revenue earning potential of those facilities, for exercise needs to be complimented by healthy eating in order to be effective.   

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