Hospitality sees outdoor fitness as wellness traveler catalyst

Sterling West

Outdoor fitness stations are growing in popularity in hospitality due to the rise of the wellness traveler. However, outdoor space either comes at a premium or is too beautiful to disrupt. Therein lies the challenge. Let’s talk about how outdoor fitness should function and clarify how it will work in your space.

Let’s explore the intention of outdoor spaces. Our parks, green spaces, and resorts are beautiful places where we can retreat to get recharged and reconnected with nature, ready to go back and meet whatever is ‘out there’. Trails, grass, trees, flowers, and water are purposely set aside for this reconnection of mind and body. Any man-made material should complement these settings as if to say, “you were here first”. Obtrusively bright colors and chunky designs are eyesores that interrupt the reconnection. Hence, outdoor fitness equipment should complement those outdoor spaces.  When situated along a trail or placed sporadically across an open space, these stations should blend into the setting. For those with limited space, start with one parking stall off to the side or a roof/mezzanine. Blending in is the definition of ‘form’.

What is the function of outdoor fitness equipment? Norwell, a Danish manufacturer, recommends a 2-3-minute workout on a station as a compliment to your walk/jog/run exercise routine. After working through a series of stations, you’ll have had a well-rounded workout. The intention is not that users are coming to a destination to pump iron like a champ. It’s a journey where you spend a few minutes working a muscle group and then moving through your routine. That is the definition of ‘function’.

This routine becomes an integral part of our lives when it is easily accessible. Outdoor exercise, available at any time, to persons of any ability, creates the catalyst for a healthy lifestyle. We will continue our exercise routine as long as it fits our style and it is not awkward for us. It should be no different for the wellness traveler. Choosing to travel shouldn’t be choosing between travel OR wellness. We can do both. I think outdoor fitness equipment is the link that brings these together. A perfect combination of design form and function.

There is one more crucial element: guest engagement. This can also be done very simply. About 15 minutes after check-in, the guest receives a text via the app that introduces them to the hotel’s outdoor fitness amenities. It includes a few pictures, a link to an explainer video, and a picture of where they are located throughout the property. Then, on the cover of their room’s welcome packet, there is another picture of the outdoor fitness equipment, suggested exercises, and calories burned per time spent. Alongside that you can showcase your health food offerings, yoga classes, in-room fitness, etc. All of this drives home your intent to serve that wellness traveler with the best possible experience.

Outdoor and fitness is a natural connection. Property owners and brand managers are now seeing how they can maximize their outdoor space to increase profits and (more importantly) keep guests healthy stay after stay.


Loren Block is an outdoor fitness advisor working with Sterling West. The Gothenburg, Nebraska-based firm has advised organizations across North America on how to get the most from their outdoor fitness equipment. Norwell Outdoor Fitness is a Danish manufacturer of outdoor fitness equipment. Norwell combines design form and function in its premium fitness products. Find out more at www.sterlingwest.net or www.norwelloutdoorfitness.com