After a mad rush, you finally get to the airport - only to find that your flight has been delayed by six hours. It's happened to many of us and there’s really nothing more dreary than an airport layover. If you're delayed over night, an airport hotel proves to be a great convenience. And for shorter layovers, you can relax in the luxury of an airport lounge. However, I sometimes feel that this is the perfect moment to squeeze in some exercise so that I can sleep wonderfully on the plane. With that in mind, I have chosen the ten best airports from across the world that help to keep you fit.
Airport Health Club - Miami International Airport
Ah, Miami: the city of white, sandy beaches and glittering ocean. Sure, it’s beautiful in Miami, but if you’re stuck in the airport thanks to a flight delay, it can get pretty boring. Luckily for all the fitness fanatics, the airport is home to a fantastic mini gym with all the equipment you may need. Or if you're someone more inclined for relaxation, why not make your way to the top of the airport’s Marriott Hotel to lounge beside the pool (shaded by palm trees no less). The pool is surrounded by a jogging track too, so it’s the perfect destination for gym bunnies to run and refresh themselves.
Miami Airport: http://www.miami-airport.com/
Airport Fitness And Wellness Club - Zurich International Airport
If you’re stranded in Switzerland for a few hours, count yourself lucky if it’s in one of the world’s best airports: Zurich Airport now houses the Airport Fitness and Wellness Club. The 2,000-square-metre club is located on the basement floor and boasts a sauna room in the shape of an aeroplane, cardio and strength equipment, a steam bath and massage facilities. And the fitness club even has traditional Chinese medicine available for you. After an intense workout, make your way down to the Marche Restaurant, a lovely market-type restaurant boasting food made from only the freshest ingredients. A relaxing cool-down with one of their famous hand-pressed juices doesn't hurt either.
Zurich Airport Fitness: www.airport-fitness.ch Marche Restaurant: www.marche-restaurants.com/en
Start! - Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport
Minneapolis Airport definitely offers something with a difference. It has teamed up with the American Heart Association in its campaign to promote exercising, healthy eating and maintaining a healthy heart. The campaign, Start! Walking Program, has resulted in a 1.4-mile walking path being added to the terminal for travellers to make use of at their leisure.
The proper starting point is in Terminal 1 (Lindbergh) - from then on all you have to do is look out for the green Start! signs that tell you how far you’ve gone. As this is a looped path, visitors to the airport can join from any terminal and complete it by ending at the place where they started. And there’s even an option to extend your walk! The campaign is sponsored by Subway, so after your nice, long walk, why not get yourself a hearty, healthy sub or salad? No reason not to feel completely refreshed and ready for your flight after this.
Start! Walking Path: www.mspairport.com/passenger-services.aspx#walking
G-Force Health Club - Dubai International Airport
Dubai’s airport is no doubt one of the most modern ones out there, so it shouldn't be surprising that it's equipped with a fully-kitted, contemporary gym for travellers. The G-Force Health Club is situated in the Sheikh Rashid Terminal in the Dubai International Hotel. For about £8 an hour, you can make use of the treadmills, stationary bikes, the weight section and more. You can also buy a longer package if you'd like more time to make use of the steam rooms and saunas. Best of all, the health club is open 24 hours a day - so no matter what hour it is when you arrive at the airport, there’s always time for a quick workout. Another plus is that if you’re just stopping over in Dubai, the club has superb shower facilities for you to freshen up before your next flight - complete with towels, toiletries and hair-dryers.
Dubai Airport: www.dubaiairport.com/en/Pages/home.aspx
Yoga Room - San Francisco International Airport
Designed by the same architects as San Francisco Airport’s Terminal 2, comes the Yoga Room. The room has already become a popular spot for travellers to unwind - something that’s quite rare to encounter in the midst of the usual rush taking place at airports. The aim of the design is to bring peace and soothing vibes to the travellers. It has features such as a floating wall and is painted in tranquil blues to produce a feeling of serenity in the room. In early 2012, felt-rock creations were also added to the room to create the same atmosphere as a Zen Garden. The room is easy to find, thanks to the signs all over the airport of a person in a lotus position. After yoga, I recommend visiting The Plant: Cafe Organic for some refreshments and wholesome food made of only organic ingredients from local farms.
San Francisco Airport: www.flysfo.com
The Plant|Cafe Organic: www.theplantcafe.com
Ambassador Transit Hotel Fitness Centre - Singapore Changi Airport
There are plenty of things to do in the Singapore Changi Airport - shopping, eating some amazing local cuisine and getting foot massages from machines stationed at various seats throughout the airport (perfect for those with swollen feet after a long flight). While some might prefer to indulge in these relaxing pastimes, others will be happy to learn about the Ambassador Transit Hotel Fitness Centre in the Ambassador Lounge located in Terminal 2. This gym is open 24 hours a day, which proves to be a great convenience for travellers, and offers more than your typical cardio and strength training equipment. For just £12 a day, you not only have access to the gym, but also the pool and showers, which is an added bonus as people are usually charged extra to use those facilities. You are even given some basic toiletries and can rent gym clothes if you need to. After you've pumped some iron in the gym, I suggest you make your way to Sumo Salad. Their culinary delights are geared towards healthy eating, so you can indulge in mouth-watering salads, wraps and sandwiches.
Singapore Changi Airport: www.changiairport.com
Sumo Salad: www.sumosalad.com
The Absolute Spa - Vancouver International Airport
The airport’s 24 hour gym is located inside the Fairmont Hotel. The Absolute Spa welcomes all travellers for a workout, even those who aren’t guests at the hotel. Besides the usual cardio and weights equipment, this gym also has a sauna and a whirlpool. Probably one of its best features is a mechanised lap pool which allows you to adjust the current according to how challenging you want your swim to be. For all the swimmers, there’s also a special dryer for your swimming suits so that you don’t have to go onto your flight with wet laundry. If you’re looking for a more calming and serene workout, then try out one of the yoga or pilates classes which runs at about £10/a day. There’s also an Orange Julius in the same terminal - famous for its exquisitely fresh fruit and veg smoothies and perfect for a refreshing snack.
Orange Julius: www.orangejulius.com
Living Well Heathrow - London Heathrow Airport
If the cold winter's snowfall delays your flight and keeps you grounded for a few hours, there’s no better UK airport to be stranded in than Heathrow. As one of the world's busiest airports, it not only offers plenty of the usual amenities such as foreign exchange and airport parking, but also fittingly offers plenty to keep travellers entertained. In Terminal 4, located within the Hilton Hotel, you can find Living Well Heathrow. This gym is complete with modern and stylish gym apparatus. Visitors can also make use of the calming, swimming pool before they go to "expel all their toxins" in the sauna or steam room. The gym even offers the service of personal trainers to help you along and can provide swimming lessons. There are also beauty treatment facilities on offer to refresh you after the long flight. For a bite on the way out, warm down by taking the short 5 minute stroll across the link bridge to Pret A Manger. You can feel good knowing that this restaurant offers its leftovers to charities at the end of the day rather than tossing them.
Living Well Heathrow: www.livingwell.com/clubs/uk/london/heathrow/
Pret A Manger: www.pret.co.uk/
Sheraton Fitness And Spa - Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Amsterdam’s well-known airport is home to the Sheraton Hotel - which happens to have a fantastic gym and health spa for all travellers to use. Here you can work on your fitness levels and get your heartrate up with some cardio, sweat it out in the steam rooms and then take a wonderfully cleansing shower in one of the large rainforest showers. Once you’ve exercised and showered, you can treat yourself (and your muscles) to a massage. If your muscles really took a gruelling workout, the centre even has physiotherapists on hand to sort out any aches and pains. The Sheraton Fitness and Spa is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
Schiphol Airport: www.schiphol.nl
Marriott Leisure Club - Manchester Airport
Airports are so packed with restaurants and fast food places that being delayed or having a long layover often results in buying treats and waiting around - and Manchester Airport is no exception. Thankfully, there’s the Marriott Leisure Club in the Marriott Hotel to work off those calories. This club features cardio machines, weights and even a complimentary fitness class. Personal trainers are also on standby to give you helpful tips and motivate you to get a great workout. The club has an indoor pool and a whirlpool, but no need to come too prepared as towels will be provided. Alternatively, why not catch up on your tan in the solarium? Even if you went to the coldest destination on holiday, you can still return home looking like you were in the Caribbean.
Last Updated: January 2013