Gym Review: Conrad Hotel, Chicago

Let me first start by saying that this is one of the best hotel gyms I have been to in the world. I have seen some real garbage fitness centers in my travels, as well as some great ones, and this ranks in my top 5 for sure (in fact, 3 gyms during this trip make the top 5!).

There are lots of things to like about this gym. First, it has a nicely stocked refrigerator, plenty of towels, and headphones.

Second, the gym is completely outfitted with LifeFitness products, which is one of the top-quality lines of equipment. What I was completely surpised by (pleasantly, of course) was that they have an Elevation Series Powermill Climber–one of my all-time favorite pieces of cardio equipment:

Because I’m currently training for the Two Castles Ultra 50k, the powermill climber came in very handy and I spent a lot of time on it. It’s as close as you can get to hiking and much more tolerable than the treadmill.

Turning around to the other side of the gym, I found what I had previously thought to be a “hotel gym unicorn”: an Olympic squat rack, deadlift platform, and bench press:

Ok, so the bench isn’t quite Olympic standard, but everything else checks out. I was really in shock that they had a deadlift platform and did a couple sets even though I was supposed to be lifting arms that day.

There is also a decent rack of dumbbells (up to 60lbs, I believe–didn’t get a picture), some kettlebells, a cable crossover, and a few machines.


I was also surprised to see a heavy bag and battle ropes. I think they are trying to make this a half powerlifting gym, half CrossFit box. Unfortunately there isn’t really enough equipment to be a great version of either, but the variety is appreciated.

Finally, they have a flexibility corner with a nice selection of foam rollers and medicine balls for all kinds of activities. I’ve never seen more than one type of foam roller at a hotel gym before, so of course I had to try them all. The knobby one was a killer!


What I liked most about this gym was that it was quiet and the hotel’s WiFi worked. There wasn’t any obnoxiously loud pop music being blared through the speakers, it wasn’t overcrowded, and space didn’t feel cramped. The only thing it didn’t have was any decent machines, but my workouts are focused mostly on freeweights so it wasn’t a huge deal. I really enjoyed my workouts here and was very happy to see the powermill climber and Olympic lifting equipment. The gym at this hotel was one of the best I have used and a highlight of our time there!

My Gym Checklist:

  • At least one usable cardio machine – PASS
  • Dumbbells up to 50lbs or more – PASS
  • Squat Rack with olympic bar & plates – PASS
  • Variety of usable machines – FAIL
  • Cable Crossover – PASS
  • Foam Roller(s) – PASS
  • Wifi that works in the gym – PASS
  • Not overcrowded – PASS




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