LAS VEGAS -- Bryan Dennis sees his business as the antithesis of everything that everyone comes here to do.
''Going to the casinos is almost the arch-enemy of the fitness industry,'' said Dennis, fitness manager of the 24 Hour Fitness center at McCarran International Airport.
The prototypical Vegas Experience includes drinking too much, eating too much, getting extremely anxious over gambling too much, staying up too late, and staring too long at the shows.
Not much of that can be done where Dennis is, at a new club that the 24 Hour Fitness chain opened this year. About the only similarity is that the club, like the casinos, never closes. But that's true of the entire 380-location chain, which focuses more on time-pressured workers who want to fit a workout into the odd moments of their schedules.
Just the same, Vegas is an endurance activity, and a person ought to be prepared, Dennis contended, only partly tongue in cheek. All the goings-on can wear you out, he said. ''A lot of it is going to be walking,'' Dennis said.
That's not just ambling from the poker table to the blackjack table. The city's mega-hotels have put extraordinary effort into ostentation, to draw visitors off the streets into their lobby-level gaming complexes. Battalions of tourists will march from hotel to hotel to take in the jousting match at the Excalibur or the pirate ship naval warfare outside Treasure Island.
And because the hotels themselves are enormous -- the Bellagio sits on 112 acres, including a 12-acre lake in front of the hotel -- distances between them also are deceptive. ''The next hotel looks a lot closer than it is,'' Dennis said.
Even without doing the hotel pilgrimage, visitors can spend time on their feet. Time on a treadmill can help a person to prepare a good endurance base for other important activities. ''There's a lot of standing in line for the buffet,'' Dennis said.
Electronic slot machines have replaced the old-fashioned one-armed bandits, so gamblers don't have to build arm strength to be in shape for repeated lever-pulling. This doesn't, however, eliminate the need to feed money into the slots. And there's still the one-handed glass lift at the bar. "You still need to get to the change lady or the waitress for the free drinks,'' Dennis said.
And Vegas-goers still need to release the stress that gambling can produce. ''We have a steam room and a sauna where they can sit and rationalize why they decided to spend all their money,'' Dennis said.
Despite all these potentially useful amenities, 24 Hour Fitness has not caught on at McCarran International -- at least, not yet. Many travelers pause at the airport's concourse-level banks of slots, but they rarely make it to the basement-level club's rows of treadmills, stationary bikes, weight machines or barbells. The 13,000-square-foot club was averaging 82 people a day, Dennis said.
This is partly to be expected, the club manager said. Most of the regulars are airport workers, and business may pick up as word of the club's existence reaches members of other clubs in the chain, he said. ''This is more of a luxury to our members -- a giveback to the people who have been so loyal,'' he said. The chain has 11 clubs in the Las Vegas area.
The big hotels have their own extensive fitness facilities, and they get use.
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