The Gym Rat at Sea

I’m a gym rat, except I’m not. For years I’ve been at the gym three to four times a week. I’m an early morning person, getting there about 5:30 AM when they open. It’s a great way to start the day and it gets exercise out of the way. The pandemic changed all that for obvious reasons. I work out at home on the same timetable. I hope to return to the gym in 2022.

When my wife and I go on a cruise, I pack two sets of gym wear. Ships often have great gyms.

  1. Change clothing in the gym? Because the ship is like an enclosed apartment building, it’s easy to change into your gym clothes in the cabin, workout and head back to the cabin to shower and change. There really isn’t a reason to change and lockup your stuff in the locker room.
  2. Workout wear. Because you will be taking stair, elevators or walking along corridors, you should look presentable. If you were going from your cabin to the pool, you would wear a robe. Don’t wear the torn up gym shirts you would wear back home at 5:30 AM when you are one of the few people in the gym. Wear your better workout clothing. FYI: According to PR newswire, the US sport and fitness clothing market is about $ 63 billion. People own great clothing for working out.
  3. Towels. I used to think I needed to bring one from the cabin. Nope. They have plenty in the gym, neatly rolled up. They should have baskets for discarded towels too.
  4. Gym location. The gym is often part of the spa complex, located on an upper deck towards the bow. This allows for great sea views. The gym often stretches the width of the ship. They line up the treadmills, exercise bikes and ellipticals along the big windows. The location poses an unexpected problem: If during rough weather, the place getting minimum rocking is on a low deck midship, a high deck close to the bow gets lots of motion!  If they cancel the night’s entertainment because of risks for the dancers, you’ll feel the same movement in the gym too!
  5. Rowing machines. They have them. They should be identical to the ones in your gym back home. Here’s another problem. I am used to rowing on a stable, flat surface that doesn’t move. The ship does! You can find when pulling back in rowing, you keep going back and you keep going forward when you reverse direction!  The ship’s movement can also get you swinging side to side. I tried rowing onboard once or twice. That was enough.
  6. Free weights. They have them. Usually these are dumb bells. I don’t recall seeing weight bars with removable plates in the free weight section. Like the two points above, you need to compensate for the movement of the ship. Remember the law of physics, “A body in motion tends to stay in motion?” This applied to swinging weight in an environment where the floor moves.
  7. Machines. They have plenty of them. These are usually bolted down to the deck. The same rules apply as back home. You wipe down the machine before and after use. You are courteous, letting other people work in.
  8. Classes. I like spin class at my gym back home. They have spin classes and other instructor led classes onboard. They should have a schedule and sign up list in the gym. There will be a charge. Your gym at home might include them in your basic membership. Not here.
  9. Trainers. The ship will have a staff of trainers you can hire, similar to personal training back home. Each person’s qualifications are usually listed or posted nearby. These trainers often roam the gym floor when not engaged, because they are acting as safety officers in the gym.

Gyms at sea are great. You just need to get used to the movement of the deck!

Cover photo: Bicycle racer in Miami, Florida ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Editor’s Note: Browse Discount Cruise Ships and Cruise Lines (

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