You could workout anywhere in the world—except there. Over the last half-century, gyms and fitness centers have proliferated on six continents. From Toledo to Timbuktu, you could travel almost anywhere and find a place, often many, to incline press or elliptical train. The one exception has been the continent that’s 98% ice-covered, Antarctica.
That makes sense when you realize there are also no hotels there, nor restaurants, no businesses at all other than gift/convenience shops in government research stations. America’s McMurdo Station (population: 1000 summer, 200 winter) has a gym, but it’s only for the use of its scientists and support staff. There has never been a space for the approximately 45,000 Antarctic tourists who trek there each summer (November to March) to pump iron—until now.
This week, Anytime Fitness launched the first commercial gym in the land of emperor penguins, leopard seals, and lots and lots of ice. Well, technically the gym is on the water just off Antarctica’s King George Island. One of the unique features of the new Magellan Explorer, a 300-foot, ice-strengthened, luxury cruise ship is its onboard Anytime Fitness Center.
“Initially, when Anytime approached us, they just wanted to pick our brains and get some insights about the logistics and challenges of building a gym on the continent,” said Francesco Contini, executive vice-president of sales and marketing for Anarctica21. “It was certainly a bold idea, but we’ve been operating in the Antarctic tourism business for a decade and a half, and we knew that actually setting up a physical structure on the continent would be a very complex, if not impossible, proposition given the maze of overlapping claims, treaties, and conventions that govern Antarctica.
“However, when they made that initial call to us, we happened to be in the early stages of planning the buildout of our new state-of-the-art expedition cruise ship, the Magellan Explorer, and it wasn’t long before we decided that there was a nice synergy between what Anytime Fitness was trying to do and our commitment to providing best-in-class facilities and services for our intrepid polar explorers.”
The Magellan Explorer began her maiden voyage along the Antarctic coast on November 28 (guests fly to King George Island from Punta Arenas, Chili). Accommodations for the ship’s 73 guests are not cheap: $10,000 to $35,000 per week. But that does include full use of the gym.
Anytime Fitness is now the first gym chain with a franchise on every continent. But they aren’t stopping with Earth. The Minnesota-based company, known for its never-closing gyms, is planning to open one in outer space! You’ll have to wait to do a gravity-free deadlift, but, meanwhile, adventurous fitness travelers have a new bucket list challenge: Working out on all seven continents.
(Opening photo: Christian Stocker)