How to Make the Most Out of an Apartment or Hotel Gym

Your apartment building or hotel gym can be great for convenience, but they’re a mixed bag for several reasons. While many go all out with amenities like Peloton bikes, others can have a few dusty treadmills and a couple of free weights. But whether they’re decked out or not, apartment building gyms aren’t exactly motivating environments. Think about it this way: whether you go to an upscale gym like Equinox or a more budget-friendly one like Blink, it’s easier to push yourself when everyone else around you is motivated. You’re more likely to kick it up a few extra miles per hour on the treadmill when the person next to you is. But if there’s no one there, it’s easier to kick back and read TMZ while cruising on the recumbent bike. The key to making the most out of your apartment building gym is to create a structured workout. I spoke to trainer, author and TedX speaker Jennifer Cohen and Pilates instructor Hilary Curwen (my favorite Pilates instructor in Los Angeles) to ask about their favorite apartment building workouts. make the most of an apartment or hotel gym

Treadmill interval training

While equipment in apartment buildings can vary, it’s a safe bet that most have treadmills. Cohen likes the treadmill best because it essentially gives you the most bang for the buck. “The treadmill is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment and it burns the most calories. You can walk, run, jog, move side-to-side, either flat or on an incline,” she says. It also emulates natural movement, unlike elliptical or other cardio machines. After all, most of us can walk or run. Treadmill workouts also strengthen the joints and bones, in addition to improving posture. Cohen recommends a 20 minute “All around the world” routine for an apartment or hotel gym.
  • Walk two minutes on an incline.
  • Then, spend two minutes shuffling side-to-side either flat or on a low incline on one side and then the other.
  • Finally, try walking backwards to balance out your body.
As for choosing the right incline, Cohen says, “Your incline should challenge you, but don’t hold on.” If you can do it without holding on or losing your balance, you’re golden.

Pilates at home

You don’t need a reformer in your apartment building or hotel gym to bring yourself through a Pilates routine. According to Curwen, the key is to create focus. “Focus on one muscle group at a time, and check in with your alignment,” she says. “Whether you are lying on your side or your back, notice if you are putting unnecessary tension in other areas of the body that are not supposed to be firing.” For example: if you’re doing a side plank on your knees with a small ball in between your legs, be mindful and check to see if your shoulder takes on extra work as you press your forearm into the floor. “If this is the case, then you need to be lifting out of the shoulder and aligning the shoulder on top of the elbow to take the weight off. When you are conscious of where your body is in space, you make the work much more effective, even if it seems like a simple exercise,” explains Curwen. You can use a yoga or Pilates mat to bring yourself through the following exercises. Note: this routine also requires regular resistance bands as well as resistance bands with handles, which your hotel gym may or may not have. If not, everything can be purchased inexpensively from Amazon.

Mid Back Series

This exercise is a staple core exercise for most Pilates classes. Grab a resistance band with handles, and tie it around any stationary bar, pole, piece of machinery that won’t move. Lying on your back take the arms up towards the ceiling with the hands in the handles. With the legs in a tabletop position, press the arms down and extend the legs out to a 45-degree angle. From there, you can continue with different arm variations—in a T position or elbows in for triceps, for example.

Abduction Series With A Booty Band

According to Curwen, this exercise burns out the glutes by keeping the top leg working against the resistance band. Lying on your side on the floor, keep the legs bent and stacked one on top of the other. With the band above the knee, exhale and lift the leg against the band and draw circles with the knee. Different variations of working against the band include: lifting and lowering the top leg, extending the leg to straight and rotating the femur head in the pelvis without moving the leg away from the body, and drawing the leg forward and back behind you as you would with the foot in the strap. It’s important to keep a little space under your lowest rib as if you rolled up a towel and slide it under you. This way, your side won’t collapse.

Chest Expansion & Triceps

Using a resistance band with handles is very useful, as you focus on the upper body. Tie the band around that pole or stationary piece of equipment as you did for mid-back series. Standing up facing the band, bend the knees and draw the arms next to the body with the hands in the handles. From here, draw the arms back without splaying open the ribs, as to activate the back while drawing the belly button in and keeping the shoulder from coming up to the ears. Engage the abs and continue to draw the arms behind the body, stopping at your sides. To then move into the triceps, bend at the elbow, hinge the upper body forward to the band and extend the arms slowly back behind you keeping the elbow and the shoulder completely stationary. This post contains a few affiliate links. As always, we only recommend products and brands we love.
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About Amanda Lauren

Originally from New York City, Amanda Lauren currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two dogs Milo and Lulu. Rarely seen in an actual gym, she is a group fitness enthusiast who enjoys Pilates (both East Coast and West Coast styles), spin, barre, power plates, yoga and her newest obsession, versa climbing. She will try any group fitness class at least once. When Amanda isn’t working out or trying to find the perfect pair of pink sneakers, she blogs about her adventures in fitness as well as fashion, lifestyle and beauty on

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