Fitness centers have long been an afterthought in the hotel business, typically consisting of little more than a converted guest room with a treadmill and some dumbbells. But in recent years, hotels have been whipping their gyms into shape. Hilton Hotels began working with Precor, the fitness equipment maker, earlier this year to outfit all of the gyms in its Hilton, Doubletree and Embassy Suites hotels in North America with new equipment, slip-resistant rubber flooring and wall-mounted plasma televisions or personal viewing screens. By the end of this year gyms in 27 of its hotels are expected to be renovated.

Hyatt has spent $8 million this year improving its fitness equipment alone. The move is part of a broader initiative, dubbed Stay Fit at Hyatt, that includes in-room yoga mats and videos. There’s even a fitness concierge on call who can recommend a jogging path or supply you with a new workout wardrobe in less than an hour. The company plans to spend $12.5 million more by mid-2007 on fitness services in its hotels. W Hotels started selling the Puma athletic gear in May and also began offering guests Puma bikes, route maps and iPods loaded with running guides. Other hotels are adding personal trainers, exercise classes and expanding their health clubs.

The new workout offerings are in part a response to increasingly demanding guests who want to be able to work out on the road the same way they do at home. But many hotels are also viewing expanded fitness centers as a means of generating revenue from what used to be considered a money-losing perk.

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