Hotels in Panama can’t beat this profit center

The better hotels in Panama understand why we torture our bodies with exercise. It is a mystery only to the uninitiated, who has not yet experienced the benefits of doing so regularly. And regularity is the key.

Once upon what seems like a long time ago I owned a fancy reclining exercise bike with all kinds of computerized gizmos. Between bouts with a bad back, I pedaled that thing 45 minutes a day, six days a week to reach a maximum recommended level of aerobic

Fitness for body and balance sheet.

exercise. Then I endured 30 minutes of stretches. After three weeks of this routine, I was amazed when I first discovered that the result was more energy, not less.

So when I saw the fitness center at the Caesar Park, one of the most exclusive hotels in Panama City, I knew I had to see if my old bones could still take it. They can, but cautiously!

This is the finest fitness center I have seen in any hotel, with equipment of every imaginable type, plus a separate floor for aerobics. But the center is not exclusive to guests, for whom it is free. Individual membership for Panama City residents is $1,200 a year or, in off-peak hours, $720. In short, it is a profit center, which explains how the hotel can afford such fine facilities.

I was there at around 6:30 p.m., and the place was busy with people much younger than me pumping iron, jogging on treadmills whose computerized attachments put my old bike to shame, and generally working up a healthy sweat under the supervision of two fitness trainers.

There’s more to some of the hotels in Panama than simple bed and breakfast.