You Don’t Have to Work Out on Vacation. But If You Want To, a Free Gym Trial Is the Way

The dilemma of how—and whether—to work out while you’re on vacation is an old one, and there are lots of ways to skin this particular cat. If you run, all you need is a pair of shoes and a scan of the Strava heatmap to help you find a good route. Guided hotel room floor workouts are a surprisingly robust slice of YouTube for masochists. There’s always the hotel gym—invariably tiny, under-equipped, and weirdly hot.

But if you ask me, the best way to work out while traveling is to go to the nearest gym and ask if they have a free trial. It’s so easy to do, I am convinced that most regular gymgoers don’t do it because they think there’s a catch. There usually isn’t. And this heist doesn’t have to be a one-and-done scenario: many of these trials can be used again after a few months—so if you visit your in-laws on a quarterly basis, for example, you might find this works perfectly.

Except it’s not even really a heist. We’d never suggest you lie—please don’t. Sometimes it simply doesn’t work out. If you’re from out of state, they might question your motives—would you ever be a member, or are you just pilfering some time in their lovely squat racks complete with a hardwood deadlift platform? But that has not been my experience. When you let a gym employee know you are just here to check things out, they usually leave you alone and don’t try to make a sale. That’s nice. Other times gyms will ask you to buy a day pass—these are usually just a few bucks.

Some will make you do a tour, but this isn’t as bad as it sounds. In my experience, these tours typically last a few minutes. The gym employee will kind of just point at equipment and say what it is, while being slightly embarrassed and saying “you get it” a lot. Sometimes, they’ll ask if you want a tour, and you can say “no thanks,” and that’s the end of it.

Some gyms will even send you a bar code upon completing their website’s free trial form. Some of these gyms have an automated turnstile that members—and now, you—can scan a barcode and enter without making small-talk with the gatekeepers standing behind the counter, even though that’s usually pleasant too.

You don’t need to be on vacation. Maybe you just want a change of scenery. Maybe you’re on a work trip because you sell B2B SaaS solutions all across the Midwest region of the United States. In terms of well-equipped spaces you can access for free, there is no parallel, except for the gym of the mind (your local public library.)

Of course, if you don’t want to work out when you’re traveling, you don’t have to. But it’s free to try.

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