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Settle in and start your workout

Times Staff Writer

Travelers no longer need to scramble for a turn on the treadmill in sparsely furnished hotel fitness rooms. Some big hotel chains are adding in-room treadmills and dumbbells, kits-to-go with yoga mats and Pilates bands and more.

But to take advantage of these options, you may need to exercise initiative by booking a workout room far in advance or asking for equipment at the front desk. Only three of the 863 guest rooms at the Westin New York at Times Square, for instance, are designated WestinWorkout rooms, equipped with aerobic and other equipment. When I called May 30 to reserve one in June, I was told they were sold out for the month. The Westin Waltham-Boston has only two special workout rooms out of 346 rooms.

At many Marriott hotels, you can check out free exercise equipment. But you wouldn't know that if you booked your room online, say, at the Marina del Rey Marriott's website because, as of May 30, it didn't mention this option.

"It's still in the initial roll-out phase," said David Vialli, director of room operations at the 370-room hotel. He said the equipment is checked out about four times a week.

Some hotel companies added in-room exercise programs only this year, so word is still getting out. Among them:

Westin Hotels & Resorts: WestinWorkout rooms should be in all 77 of Westin's North American hotels by the end of this month and added later in Europe and Asia, said Nadeen Ayala, spokeswoman for Westin's parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The rooms cost, on average, $20 more per night than a room without athletic equipment, depending on the hotel, Ayala said. For that extra $20 you get your own exercise cycle or treadmill; DVDs for Pilates, yoga and Spinning workouts; assorted other equipment, such as dumbbells, a stability ball and yoga mat; a small library of fitness guides and magazines; and a map of suggested local jogging routes. (Some Westin hotels even have a "running concierge" who leads guided runs.)

Marriott International: "Great Health — Fit for You," introduced in January, lets you check out free equipment to use in your room. The program is available at Marriott and Renaissance hotels, said spokeswoman Dasha Ross, but not at the company's limited-service hotels, such as Courtyard by Marriott. There are three types of equipment: BodyRev, for aerobic and strength training; a "Traveling Trainer" kit with resistance tubes; and BodyWedge21, an inclined foam wedge for workouts.

Hilton Garden Inn: Last month these hotels began offering free Stay Fit Kits. These include a yoga mat, Pilates band, resistance cord, hand weights and a medicine ball.

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