Remember when I said that the gym at the Conrad Chicago was one of the best hotel gyms I’ve been to? Well, the Ritz did one better. The Conrad was still a fantastic space, but as you’ll see from the pictures below, the Ritz had a much larger space, more machines, and a fantastic view.
The Ritz chose to outfit their space with TechnoGym equipment, which is of equal quality to that of LifeFitness (as at the Conrad) in my opinion. Seeing as these hotels are just down the block from each other, it was interesting to see the difference in layout and equipment choices.
First up, the cardio machines:
You have your basic wall of cardio equipment, each with an individual TV. Nice stuff, although I only spent a short amount of time on the treadmill.
I was surprised at how many machines there are! Usually you might find one cable, maybe an ab/core machine, and not much else, but this place did pretty well.
Also, the dumbbell rack was more than sufficient with weights up to 60lbs–a rare find in hotel gyms!
What I loved about this place was that (like the Conrad Chicago), it had a full squat rack. Being able to do real squats, deadlifts, and shoulder presses makes me very happy. I was just about to load up the bar for some heavy squats when I noticed the fatal flaw. Can you spot it?
If you pointed out the fact that there are almost no plates to be loaded on the bar, you would be correct. They have exactly ONE set of each plate, meaning there was 2x45lbs, 2x35lbs, etc, down to 5lbs. For those following along at home, that means there are only 285lbs (including the 45lb bar)to work with. I understand that most people using a hotel gym aren’t generally bodybuilders looking to break personal records, but I find this to be just downright lazy. I was able to do some higher repetition sets on squats, but unfortunately that weight wouldn’t really move the needle on deadlifts (end humblebrag). They were really doing things right until they cut corners here. For shame.
The one thing to help make up for the lack of weights was the great view:
Not a bad overlook to have in the background while pushing some weight around.
I was able to get in two pretty good workouts at the Ritz Carlton Chicago gym. At first glance, it was incredible (and is still a top 5 for me), but they really dropped the ball by having only the bare minimum in freeweights and no working wifi. The quality of the equipment was very good and I would totally do more workouts here if ever given the chance. This place is a real gem!
My Gym Checklist:
- At least one usable cardio machine – PASS
- Dumbbells up to 50lbs or more – PASS
- Squat Rack with olympic bar & plates – HALF FAIL
- Variety of usable machines – PASS
- Cable Crossover – PASS
- Foam Roller(s) – FAIL
- Wifi that works in the gym – FAIL
- Not overcrowded – PASS
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Brandon Chase is a writer, endurance athlete, and guide based in Maine. He is a former Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State and spent nearly a decade overseas serving at embassies in Egypt, Cyprus, and Pakistan.
Along with a 98-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, he has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiked the West Highland Way, fastpacked in the Himalayas, and trekked around New Zealand and South Africa. He also regularly competes in ultramarathons at the 50k, 50-mile, and 100-mile distances. He is a Lead Guide for Andrew Skurka Adventures and the New England Outdoor Center.