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Working out in the Windy City

Chicago, Il, USA

The Good

  • TRX
  • Heavy bag! (and bag gloves but I’d pack your own, just well, you know)
  • Cable cross
  • Good open floor space
  • Separate cardio area
  • Stability balls
  • Medicine balls

The Bad

  •  Limited free weights – max 45lbs??
  • Med ball kettlebells ( see below for reasons)
  • Filtered water
  • Towel service
  • Fruit bowl
  • No tubing available
  • No steam/hot tub/pool/change room

Dayna's review: 4 dumbells

Chicago was my birthday weekend getaway and I was excited to discover this gem of a hotel in the Gold Coast area. A reasonably short and direct flight from Vancouver had me pulling up in my uber at The Thompson by early afternoon. Admiring the quaint location I was pleased with the funky bar and lobby as well as the spacious room with a view of the water. Upon freshening up I ventured out to peek at the gym and hotels other amenities.  At first glance I was pleased that the gym was quite large – one can never quite tell from photos – and offered plenty of open space, as well as a variety of functional toys to play with…I was already plotting my workouts for the next few days as I departed for little walk through the neighbourhood. Although I am open to visiting outside gyms my preference is always to utilize hotel facilities and The Thompson delivered in spades!

The Gym:

Minus a few things, this was my kind of gym – especially for short bouts of travel as I like to keep it light and functional…workouts are to reset from planes, high heels and the indulgences of travel. I’m not opposed to loading up a squat rack either, but the reality is most hotel gyms don’t have anything for bar work or dumbells over 35lbs, but I digress. I was excited that beyond the advertised heavy bag in the website photos the space also had a TRX. Great for conditioning and pleased to see making it’s way into a hotel gym! There was a decent amount of cardio equipment, 3 treadmills, 1 spin bikes, 1 upright bike and an elliptical all reasonably new. A large TV helped to pass the time if that’s your thing. I imagine it could get quite busy in the cold winter months and there may be waits but the open floor plan leaves options for other things. Pack a jump rope and you can get a great little circuit going incorporating the heavy bag – you’ll be hot and sweaty in minutes!  I don’t think I saw anyone else lift in my time there, the gym had a fairly steady flow of people but it was never really busy and they were all on the cardio train anyhow (sigh)

The Workouts:

I worked out every day, including my birthday, as I wanted to start out my personal new year on the right foot (and counteract the cupcake ATM and all the other good eats that seem commonplace in this great city) I had only anticipated 3 days of training interspersed with my style of active travelling – renting a bike and walking the city - but ended up with an short cardio/stretch day to round it up to 4. Day 1 - I landed early afternoon and was eager to check out the gym and reset after the flight, so after a quick explore around the hood I decided on a quick cardio and stretch session just to get some blood flow. 20 minutes of intervals on the spin bike plus CARS and a few stretches I was in and out in 40 minutes and ready to get cleaned up for the evening. Day 2 - Friday was a lift day. Following my dynamic warm-up, I did 3 rounds of the following exercises – grouped into giant sets and clocked out good and sweaty in 35 minutes start to finish. I biked the lakefront this day as well, the weather was perfect for exploring this beauty city!
  • Bum drops (off bench)
  • TRX T’s
  • Kettlebell Swings (these are med ball KB’s )
  • TRX fly/press combo
  • Pikes on stability ball
  • TRX Pull ups
  • 3 way lunge combo with med ball
  • TRX Tricep press
  • Stability ball roll outs
Day 3 – a leisurely start to the day, coffee in bed and a quick bite before heading off to the river for an architectural tour.  The workout would be an afternoon reboot before dinner. The king bed was calling me for a nap so I had a quick rest before putting in some work in on the heavy bag.  I limbered up on the spin bike for a few minutes , ran through my CARS and was ready to go. I set my interval timer – I use Round Timer – for 20 minutes of intervals (40 seconds work/20 seconds rest) and got to work. I warmed up with my basics and worked up to various combinations of punches and kicks. By the time I finished my last round I was breathing and sweating heavily. Done and done. Time to eat! Day 4 – it’s my birthday! After a nice sleep-in and usual check ins with family and friends,  I started my personal year off right with a playful lift session.  The usual warm up (CARS etc) then ran through the following circuit 3 times. Kept the reps high with 16-20. (or failure if this came first) Sweaty and worked it was time to clean up and go for bday brunch. The rest of the day was perfectly balanced with good food and wine!
  • Hamstring curls (stability ball)
  • Goblet squat
  • Single Cable lunge rows
  • Single cable pushes
  • Single clean and press
  • Reverse fly
  • Med ball chop
  • Dead bug (on bench)
  • 4 pt kneel (on bench w/arm and leg reach)

The Neighbourhood:

The gold coast location couldn’t be beat, a block off Michigan Avenue and the lakefront and on an amazing little corner of buzzing resteraunts and fashion. The lakefront is perfect for running, walking and biking and only a few minutes walk from the hotel. Go short or go long, the views are amazing and the trail goes for miles. I bought the day pass for the BixiBikes and explored near and far at a leisurely pace. Rentals are available nearby if you prefer your bike to have more than 3 gears :)  I was hoping to pick up a game or 2 of beach volleyball but found drop in games hard to come by when I asked around. I’d look into this sooner next time if I was that attached to playing as they have a pretty good scene going on here only a few minutes from the hotel. Gold Coast has a number of yoga studios and health food places within a few blocks as well so if you were looking for a shake, juice or healthy meal you don’t have to go far. There’s a gym called SWEAT just down State Street with a great smoothie and grab and go café upstairs. Perfect for a post workout or healthy midday snack or to check out a class.  If you’re looking for a stretch session, there are 3 great yoga studios within a few blocks of the hotel, at least 2 Barre spots and if Crossfit is your thing, there’s a studio not far as well. If I was staying more than a few days I likely would have dropped in at one of the bigger clubs for a heavy lift day but I was happy to make do with what the hotel offered this trip (Did I mention the heavy bag???) Obviously this was a winner for me and bonus dumbbells in ratings for sure! Thompson is tops on my list in Chicago so far and I would absolutely stay again!