For the time-strapped business traveler, flight delays and cancellations can contribute to stress and cabin fever.
But rather than sitting out the wait over bad-for-you snacks or beers at the airport bar, travelers are increasingly turning to healthier options such as a quick run in the gym or a tension-relieving massage.
That's because airport terminals across the U.S. are adding gym facilities, so busy travelers don't have to miss their workouts just because the airline rescheduled their flight.
There are also dozens of fitness centers around the country that are only a five- or 10-minute cab or shuttle bus ride away and offer day passes that usually range between $5 and $20. This price includes not only use of exercise equipment but also showers, towels, lockers and sometimes workout clothing.
“Traveling can be stressful--and since exercise can help relieve stress, it’s the perfect fit,” explains Mary Seltzer, a spokeswoman for 24 Hour Fitness, a nationwide gym with a location in Terminal C of Las Vegas' McCarron Airport. “We make it easy for travelers to get in, workout, and then continue with their travels. For non-members who would like to work out, there is a $10 guest workout fee. This gives them access to the entire facility--and there are no time limits.”
Here, $10 goes far. The 14,000-square-foot gym boasts “an extensive line of cardio machines as well as weight machines and a full line of free weights,” says Seltzer. “There is a sauna, and massage options are available, as well as the Group X class, Pilates. The gym also has a full locker room and shower facilities.”
And if you didn’t come to the airport equipped with the right attire, they have you covered; workout clothing is available for rent.
Twenty-two percent of U.S. flights were delayed last year, according to a recent study from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. What's more, since 2003, gate departure delays increased 56%.
"Sometimes [passengers] have to wait 5 hours,” says Heidi Marcial, a customer service representative for the gym, which is affiliated with Hilton Hotels, “so they come over and use the gym.” A day pass here costs $11 and includes use of a fitness area with treadmills, elliptical machines, a weight room and towels.
The Westin Fitness Center in the Northwest terminal at the Detroit Metro airport offers 24-hour access to treadmills, weight machines and free weights for $15. This also includes locker room access.
Visitors to the Port Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, will find a health club about 50 yards from the airport. The gym offers free weights, treadmills, an outdoor/indoor swimming pool and sauna. All bathroom accessories such as towels, shampoo and hairdryers are available. Tanning, massage therapy and personal training are also offered for an extra fee.
What's it all mean? Next time you see “delayed” next to your flight number, don’t sigh and head straight for the nearest sports bar. Make the healthier choice and decompress in the terminal fitness center.
© 2012 Forbes.com