Or I could quietly jiggle
July 11, 2008 6:51 PM   Subscribe

How can I work out in my apartment without bothering my neighbors?

I've struggled with ways to stay in shape for a long time now, and finally I found something that worked and that I had stuck with every day for the past week: workout videos. I was so happy that I finally was getting in a sweaty workout every day and I was feeling really good about myself, until my neighbor just knocked at my door a few minutes ago demanding that I "cut out all the stompin." I apologized and told her I hadn't realized, and she huffed off without saying anything. I don't want to bother my neighbors (I know how annoying it is when the same lady and her family blast motown into the wee hours of the night all weekend so that I can't sleep) but I really want to work out. I hadn't considered noise to be a problem because, aside from the occasional blasting music, I have never heard a peep from my neighbors; I've also done my own workouts before without complaint (but never stuck to it for more than 2-3 times a week), but the building seems very well insulated. I am in a corner apartment on the second floor of three.

So how can I work out in my apartment without bothering this lady? I would really prefer to continue working out in my apartment, and it also really bothers me that I shouldn't be able to do something like that in my own home. I considered going down and asking her if there was a good time for me to do this, but I am a little intimidated of her. This lady was severely ticked off. I don't think she really ever leaves her apartment and I work all day.

Also, I am sure people who suggest this mean well, but I do not want to join a gym. I have several reasons for this that you might want to dispel (cost, location, time, fear of working out in front of other people, lack of knowledge of equipment, etc. etc.) but the bottom line is that even if I got a gym membership, I wouldn't go. Going for runs or bike rides around here also isn't a very viable option (biking was actually my first choice before I started this) as I live off the highway with no running/biking area. The workouts I've been doing are cardio/strength, but I'm willing to change them as long as I get in a good, sweaty workout. I need to do something that I will stick with for now and that is working out at home, so any ideas?
posted by Polychrome to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Well, "stompin'" is impact of foot to floor after raising legs, so most machinery should do you fine -- I swear by a rowing machine, for instance, but they're not cheap. Most exercise machinery doesn't make a lot of noise, though -- spinner bikes, rowing machines, elliptical machines, etc. should be okay. As would weightwork, as long as you don't scream.

Oddly -- when I lived with a very tense fellow who studied martial arts and kept knives on his wall and anatomical charts of major arteries right next to them, and who would occasionally stay up all night sitting on the dryer rocking himself back and forth and then get terribly irate when people made noise in the morning -- I found that jumprope was a great way to get a good cardio workout without making a lot of noise. I know it sounds like a THUMP-THUMP-THUMP sort of exercise, but once you get some practice in you can actually be very quiet with a jumprope, especially if you lay down a gym mat or yoga mat before you get jumpin'. It's just on your toes, y'see, and more of a tip-tip-tip than a thump-thump-thump.


a) Machinery. Failing machinery,
b) Gym mats, the kind you had in high school, to absorb sound and impact, and
c) jumprope. Or boxing work -- armwork with heavy gloves, even if you're just shadow boxing, is great cardio and also avoids a lot of heavy-footed jumping up and down. You STEP a lot, but you don't JUMP.
posted by Shepherd at 7:08 PM on July 11, 2008

The obvious answer is to work out when your neighbors aren't home.
posted by YoungAmerican at 7:14 PM on July 11, 2008

The plank is a killer exercise you can do anywhere without annoying your neighbors.
posted by ambrosia at 7:16 PM on July 11, 2008

Yoga or pilates. Weights. Simple exercises like lunges, sit-ups, push-ups etc.
posted by greta simone at 7:35 PM on July 11, 2008

Do not jump rope. My upstairs neighbor got into that routine, and I finally had to go upstairs and ask him to do it when I wasn't home. Both the rope and the jumping make quite a racket.
posted by kimdog at 7:47 PM on July 11, 2008

i think the problem is with your neighbor. she--like you--lives in an apartment, and that means she's going to have to put up with a bit of stomping now and then. if you're doing it during reasonable hours, then she needs to suck it up.

but she won't, because she has the same feeling of home that you do. she will never be happy with your workouts, but she can learn to live with them. i'm guessing that since she was in a state of huff, she won't be very cooperative. the way she complained was rude, and it probably won't get better.

if you want to try to work it out passively and non confrontational, stop by to see her before your workout. tell her that you'll be working out for the next hour or so, and then you'll stop. she might bitch then, but you could explain that your apartment is your home, and you are entitled to using it in a normal fashion, which includes working out.

or you can just keep working out. when she comes to the door again, tell her that you're working out, and that you'll stop when you're done, and not a minute before. and if she has a problem with that, call the landlord. and any response she makes after that, say simply "you need to discuss that with the landlord." if she starts yelling, call the cops.

you also can, if you wish, just not answer the door.
posted by lester at 7:52 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Pilates involves no stomping, and there are some great Pilates videos out there.

And lester's post raises another possibility: if your workouts are going to bother your neighbor, perhaps you and she can negotiate some kind of schedule that you can both plan around. The Roger Fisher approach of "How can we both get what we want here?" might be helpful to consider.

If you, say, agreed to limit your Stompin' Clompin' Step Aerobics time to certain days, and did Pilates or other stomp-free stuff the other days, then your neighbor could schedule her life accordingly, and not be firing up that movie she'd been longing to see just as the bumping and jumping started upstairs.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:58 PM on July 11, 2008

Yoga! There are free video podcasts on iTunes that you can download and do quietly.
posted by pised at 8:09 PM on July 11, 2008

Would a mini trampoline work for you? Your neighbor might have to put up with a little bit of repetitive creaking noise, but at least it's not stomping. Jogging on a mini trampoline has worked for me in terms of getting a thorough cardio workout.
posted by corey flood at 8:15 PM on July 11, 2008

Next time she's blasting motown, stop by and say you're tolerating her noise as a courtesy, and would appreciate her doing the same by allowing you to workout X number of times a week. Let her know that you're willing to consider specific times, if necessary.

OR, if you would really prefer not to have anything more to do with her, sign up for a free trial at a 24-Hour Fitness or Bally's. Try out all the machines, and see which one suits you the best. Then buy your own, keeping in mind that some treadmills create loud, reverberating noise. I bought this ridiculously expensive LifeFitness upright cyle after trying a similar one in a fitness club. The magnetic resistance is so whisper-quiet, I don't even have to raise the volume of my TV. There are probably cheaper options, but that's a whole other thread in itself. Bottom line- if you intend to buy a piece of exercise equipment, don't just walk into Big 5 and buy the first machine that "feels good."
posted by invisible ink at 8:22 PM on July 11, 2008

maybe you could compromise and do the tapes more quietly? like, instead of sneakers on the floor try barefoot on a pilates (thicker than a yoga) mat? If you want a silent workout and like cycling, I have this and highly recommend it. It has a small footprint when I tuck it in the corner, and it is very quiet during use so it's perfect for watching movies or listing to the radio.
posted by moxiedoll at 8:27 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pilates and yoga aren't the same as strength and cardio training, no matter what anyone tries to tell you.

Talk to your neighbor, see if there is a convenient time for both of you to work out where it won't bother her. That way, you both win. However, if she makes a big deal out of it again, do as you please. You have to put up with her rudeness and bitching, so she can put up with a little stomping. Like you said, it is your place. Part of living in an apartment is having to deal with neighbors, so let her deal.
posted by Loto at 8:38 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried them personally, but I know there are some "walking" workout videos meant to be done indoors...those combined with yoga, pilates or other lower impact workout videos might give you the exercise you desire without causing any more confrontatons with your cranky neighbor.

Also, you can buy an elliptical machine for under $200...I got mine from Amazon, and it's perfect for a small apartment. Granted, it's not as nice as the expensive ones but it certainly gives me a decent workout.
posted by kattyann at 8:51 PM on July 11, 2008

Well to be fair to the neighborlady, if she told you to cut the stompin a few minutes ago, you were jumping around up there at coming close to 10 PM.

Resume your workouts but try to finish up a little earlier.
posted by jamaro at 9:02 PM on July 11, 2008

power yoga
posted by Perplexity at 9:12 PM on July 11, 2008

if you have a bike you could try a bike trainer. you can get some very good training dvds to go with them
posted by nanhey at 9:21 PM on July 11, 2008

(continuing above comment) i use my bike trainer pretty late into the evening and my neighbors never complained about it.
posted by nanhey at 9:23 PM on July 11, 2008

I think there are some pretty strange attitudes here about apartment living. It's not ideal but if you're a good neighbor then you don't just do what you want, whenever you want and however loud you want because you get what you give in these situations.

I'd take a mixed approach. One, get a thick mat that you can work out on to deaden the noise. Try to work out during those hours which are least likely to interrupt someone's sleep. If possible, isolate your workout to a room that is least likely to annoy your neighbor. But, above all, go have a talk with her. It'll be okay. Don't bring up the loud music -- it's not like your workout is an attempt to get revenge. Save that one for later. I think if you can commit to a time that you both agree on and a time limit -- it will be more palatable. Then your neighbor knows that the stomping will only last an hour and won't sit there stewing, wondering when you're going to knock it off. If you can do a little schedule communication you might even find a good time when she's away and you can do the stomp thing. You'll feel better if you know you aren't annoying someone.

And work in some quieter exercise sessions -- it's great to cross-train. Adding in pilates and yoga is a great complement to sweaty cardio. As are weight lifting and floor exercises like situps and pushups and leg lifts. You're gonna get cut and fit!
posted by amanda at 10:07 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Tai chi. Zero impact -- that is, no noise -- and crazy cardio and strength benefits along with everything else. Once you learn the basics, start going low. Good luck!
posted by Kinbote at 10:19 PM on July 11, 2008

A couple of options I haven't seen above:

#1: Jogging trampoline, but make sure you place it on a thick rug, on a spot on the floor that doesn't creak;

#2: Do it in a room that isn't typically occupied by people seeking quiet, like the kitchen or the bathroom;

#3: Do it whenever they play their loud motown music, and if/when she visits again, say that you feel she has just as much right to play her stereo loud as you do to exercise, and while you've taken steps to make it quieter, it seemed like the best way to minimize the disturbance would be to do it when they're playing the stereo.

Note that the part of #3 involving her visiting again only works if you are sincere, and you say explicitly that you're not trying to be passive-aggressive, and if there's a better solution for her such as times of the evening when she's not home or somesuch, you're open to them.
posted by davejay at 10:30 PM on July 11, 2008

er, I didn't see one of my suggestions above because I didn't read Amanda's comment first. Sorry about that.
posted by davejay at 10:31 PM on July 11, 2008

You can really get a great silent strength workout with resistance bands as found here at amazon. I got them last Wednesday on the recommendation of my sister whose really into fitness and I've been really pleased with the workouts so far.
posted by visual mechanic at 3:38 AM on July 12, 2008

Like davejay said, work out while she plays music. Alternatively, if you have a lockup garage, put your gym stuff in the garage, and move your car when you want to work out.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:58 AM on July 12, 2008

You shouldn't change your workout style just to suit your neighbor. I know how picky I am about workouts: some just don't do it for me, some are truly pansy or boring or badly produced. I think if something is working for you, let yourself enjoy it because it's so hard to get motivated to exercise anyway.

And I definitely don't think you should make your exercise schedule dependent on her music playing! You have a right to live your life in your own home independent of someone else's whims.

That said, I agree that apartment living entails cooperation and communication between neighbors - but this means that she has to be willing to compromise also.

I'm afraid what I'm getting at means that you're just going to have to suck it up and go down and talk to her! Begin with an apology ("I'm sorry I was working out so late yesterday") but be firm that you are going to continue to do so, and merely accept some input on times that she would prefer that you do it. Not "allow" you to do it! Let her know that you will try to stick to those hours, and that every time you do it it will only be for one hour's duration. Do set a time after which (9pm?) you will absolutely not work out. Once you have this all worked out, ask her if she will stick to the same guidelines with her music (which lets her know in a nice way that you have heard it but have not been bitchy enough to complain about it).

That should be enough show of willingness to cooperate to smooth down anyone. If she's still cranky about it, then too bad for her. She's being unreasonable and has no right to try and interfere with your health and the use of your apartment.
posted by GardenGal at 1:31 PM on July 12, 2008

If you're doing it for a reasonable amount of time (like an hour or so), during normal hours (before 9 or thereabouts) don't worry about it.
posted by electroboy at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2008

i nth not worrying about it if it's at a reasonable time of day but also, i've been on BOTH sides of the loud neighbor thing. My building has the most ridiculously uninsulated creaky floors that are just like CRAZY conductors of noise, and i've had my downstairs neighbor come to my door practically in tears over noise i didn't even really realize was unbearable downstairs. I've also been on the receiving end of noise from my upstairs neighbors, who are college students and keep extremely different hours than i. I can hear every step they take in the middle of the night, it wakes me up, and I don't believe they're like stomping, they're just walking normally/maybe a little "hard" anyway. we all try to be cognizant of the tough situation in this house.

anyway on to the exercise issue, when i decided i needed to exercise or die, i had this noise problem in mind. any jumping around would make the poor lady downstairs want to scream. I was able to find a recumbent bike that's nearly silent, at the local warehouse/wholesaler for under 200 bucks. little bit of investment for one time only. the lady downstairs has never complained. and sometimes i get sweaty.
posted by Soulbee at 6:17 AM on July 16, 2008

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