Taking the fitness center outside

A hotel’s fitness center can range from a small basement room to an entirely separate building in some resorts—but thanks to a Canadian company, hotels may be able to bring wellness-minded guests outside.

Ontario-based Paris Site Furnishings started out creating playgrounds, and then evolved into exterior fitness zones with outdoor versions of traditional indoor gym equipment. “Everybody wants a healthier community,” said Brent Dunseith, Paris Site Furnishings’ VP of sales & marketing. “This is something [municipalities] are putting in along trails to promote extra activity.”  

While Paris Site Furnishings has not yet created outdoor fitness centers for hotels, the spaces that the company has designed for municipalities and condo rooftops could easily be applied to a hospitality setting, including a resort or the top of a hotel.

Fitness Trails

Paris Site Furnishings specializes in creating what Dunseith calls “fitness trails” that let people customize a workout while they are outside—a good option for sprawling resorts. “It’s meant so that people doing a daily exercise routine—on a bicycle, going for a walk or going on a jog—they can stop, go in and do a little workout,” he said. The trail could include a stop with equipment that focuses on upper-body training, a stop to focus on the lower body and one dedicated to cardiovascular health. The equipment can also be adjusted for the needs of different age groups, although Dunseith emphasized that unlike playgrounds, these fitness parks are geared for the 14-and-up crowd.

Unlike indoor fitness centers, Paris Site Furnishings’ al fresco equipment must be attached to the ground. “It can be direct-buried into a cement footing or, if someone has an existing cement pad, it could be [attached] to that,” Dunseith said. Attaching to an unused outdoor sports facility—think abandoned tennis courts—is also a viable option.

“Some people are more worried about potential risks, so they’ll put something [underneath] with soft surfacing, just in case someone falls off of something,” Dunseith said, noting that most of the company’s equipment is not very high up off the ground, but a cushion can’t hurt. “Some people use a rubberized carpet or engineered wood chips,” he said. “Fitness trails are generally fine with hard surfaces, but it depends on the customer.”

Dunseith also warned that fitness centers installed on grass will see the same kind of wear and tear that playgrounds get, for much the same reason. “Think about a swing,” he said. “There’s no grass under a swing. Don’t expect a nicely mowed lawn that will always stay beautiful.”

Sky-High Fitness

If a hotel wants fitness equipment on a rooftop, everything must be sufficiently bolted to a secure surface. While installing a gym on a flat rooftop can be easier than installing equipment on uneven outdoor terrain, it does present unique challenges, especially when the team begins drilling. “We have to know that the cement pad we’ll bolt [the equipment] to is deep enough to support the lag bolts so we’re not getting into a waterproof membrane,” Dunseith said.

Getting the equipment to the rooftop can also be a challenge, he noted: “They don’t necessarily fit in a residential elevator. We’ve had to boom them onto a roof. We have to make people aware that some of the stuff is too big, unless they have large freight elevators, but even that doesn’t go to the rooftop.” The company has had to hire companies to hoist fitness equipment to some rooftops.


The company creates both static (like sit-up benches) and moving equipment (like cross-country ski machines) that are designed to be exposed to the elements.

“Most of the stuff is steel-fabricated,” Dunseith said. The client can select the color of the equipment, he added, noting that the color should depend on the set-up location. “We advise people not to pick black if it’s gonna be in Arizona,” he said. “Metal can get warm in sun, but black gets extremely hot. We suggest a lighter color.”

The equipment is also safe for oceanfront properties. “All of our products are made of steel but then they’re blasted to be clean, they’re rust-proof and then they’re powder coated,” Dunseith said. “They have excellent durability. They’ll last for years. Our hardware is all stainless steel or nylon bushings, so they’re self-lubricating. There’s pretty much zero maintenance required.”