Take Advantage of Your Building's Fitness Center with These Workouts

By Mathew Katz on April 4, 2013 9:34am 

NEW YORK CITY — You pass by it every day — that door in your building marked "Fitness Center."

Isn't it about time you used it?

Thousands of apartment buildings in the city offer tenants an on-site gym, a small spot to get some exercise in during an average New Yorker's often-hectic schedule. 

"I'm not there for a long time, just whatever I have time for," said Frank Paganucci, a graphic designer, who started taking advantage of the gym inside Azure, a luxury condo building on the Upper East Side, after moving in.

"I belonged to a gym years ago, but I just couldn't get there as much as I wanted."

Still, many ignore their building's fitness centers, opting either for larger, full-service gyms or forgoing exercise altogether.

What these gyms lack in equipment, they make up for in convenience — often open all day, just steps from your door. 

"It lets you go far more often, and when you go consistently, you can see yourself get more fit," said Joey Swidler, who trains a range of clients at the Upper East Side's Exceed Physical Culture, Williamsburg's Crossfit Virtuosity and Gymies Gym in Crown Heights.

One advantage an in-building gym offers is that residents rarely overlap with other tenants, meaning they can run their own interval-training workouts (like the ones listed below) using multiple pieces of equipment at a time. Each workout can be scaled for both the fitness fanatic or the absolute beginner.

Start With The Basics

Swidler said taking advantage of an apartment's fitness center is a good move for both beginner exercisers and advanced athletes. He suggested a regimen of bodyweight movements easily done in a small space that can be made more difficult by adding weight.

"Things like squats, push-ups, lunges — they can be easily learned, you can drill on the mechanics and get it right before going more intense," he said.

Making sure you're doing each exercise right is key, especially in a space where you'll typically be working out alone.

"You can't throw weights in your hands if you don't know how to squat," he said.

Focus On Your Core

Your core is like your car's transmission; it's where much of your power comes from when you exercise, Swidler said.

He recommended focusing on exercises from your core to your extremities, avoiding machines that take away any core stabilization — and avoiding targeted movements like bicep curls.

"A bicep curl may make your bicep bigger, it may give you beach muscles, but those are only great on the beach," he said.

"It's less about looking the way you want and more about feeling the way you want when you pick up your kids or you're working around the home," he said.

Keep Track Of Everything

In your apartment's gym, there's no trainers and no one to compete against — it's just you against yourself. One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated is by measuring your own fitness.

"If you keep track of everything you do and then revisit it, you can see yourself get more fit," Swidler said.

If you've got a little more building camaraderie, Swidler suggests putting up a whiteboard filled out with standard workouts, letting neighbors keep track — as well as compete against one another.

"It gives you something tangible," he said. "If you're on top of yourself, you're going to become more fit — you're going to look, perform and feel better.

Workouts For Your Apartment's Fitness Center

1. In 10 minutes, complete as many rounds as possible of:

Beginner:  5 sit-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 walking lunges 
Advanced: 5 v-ups, 10 manmakers with dumbbells, 15 walking lunges with dumbbells

2. Complete three rounds, as fast as possible of:

Beginner: 10 squat jumps, 100m sprint on the treadmill
Advanced: 10 goblet squats, 100m sprint

3. Four 400m runs on treadmill with a two-minute rest in between run.

4. Complete all movements as quickly as possible:

Beginner: 100 squats for time, pausing at the start of every minute to complete four burpees.
Amateur: 100 dumbbell front squats, pausing at the start of every minute to complete four burpees.

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