Wednesday, May 25, 2005

CHICAGO - When Harvey “Chip” Reed has a few hours to kill between flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, he doesn’t wander aimlessly or fill up on fast food. He works out.

He is among airline passengers who squeeze in a little exercise during layovers or flight delays. It’s getting easier for people like Mr. Reed to find fitness centers at airports, or near them, that welcome drop-ins. In Chicago, Mr. Reed heads straight for a health club at an adjoining hotel.

“It’s just sanity when you’re traveling,” the 44-year-old said before beginning a workout during a recent four-hour layover on the way to his California home.

It was his second workout of the week at the Hilton club, which is connected to the airport through an underground passageway. He’s even brought his family on vacation layovers. He and his wife work out while their two children go swimming.

“I don’t understand why more airports aren’t capitalizing on it,” Mr. Reed said.

Graphic designer Kevin Gillotti also hates wasting time between flights when he travels for business or duathlon competitions — running-biking-running events. A few years ago, he began looking for gyms around airports and now lists them on his Web site,

“I would spend a lot of time doing nothing in airports. I wondered how easy it would be to leave the airport and go work out,” said Mr. Gillotti of Carlsbad, Calif.

His Web site now lists more than 50 health clubs in the United States and Canada. Most of the gyms are a short taxi ride away and cost $5 to $15. A few are in airports or airport hotels.

Northern Virginia resident Bill Dingell said he tried a layover workout en route to his honeymoon a couple years ago after coming across the Web site.

Mr. Dingell and his wife, Kara, hopped in a taxi at the Mexico City airport and used their membership at a Gold’s Gym. His only disappointment was that the gym’s T-shirts on sale were too small for him.

“They let us right in. They were glad to see us,” said Mr. Dingell, who lives in Reston.

In Las Vegas, travelers don’t even have to leave the airport to work up a sweat. Health club operator 24-Hour Fitness runs a center inside McCarran International Airport near baggage claim. Travelers can use it for a $10 fee.

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