It’s a weird time in our world, to say the least. We are all housebound, due to COVID-19, hoping and praying to flatten the curve and keep the people of our world safe and healthy, while also trying to maintain our own sanity. For many of us that has meant finding at-home workouts to help de-stress, or if you are like me, finding them just to keep busy. You are likely dreaming of the day you can take a fitness class in-person, next to other sweaty, like-minded fitness fanatics. Here’s to hoping that day comes sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you can start putting together a bucket list of the classes and workouts you want to try. It’ll give you something to do now, and something to look forward to later. While my list focuses on the most unique (and fun) classes in Chicago, you can likely find similar classes near you. Wherever you are, and whatever you try, remember to have fun with it. If you enjoy a workout, it won’t feel like exercise at all.
- AIR Aerial Fitness & Trapeze School: I tried a silks workout for the first time several years ago, and fell in love! It’s one of the most freeing workout experiences you can have. Where else can you do crunches upside down? AIR offers a range of classes, where you can focus on anything from stretching to high intensity cardio or tricks in the silk hammocks. They all have a nostalgic feel for me, setting the mood for a child-like mentality of just having fun, while evoking a carnival like atmosphere. My favorite class is FLOW, which allows for more time in the silks and deeper stretching. And don’t worry, every class offers opportunities to learn a new trick, and take lots of pictures to prove you mastered it! And if you like the silk hammock work at AIR and want to continue learning cool “circus tricks” take it to the next level with trapeze classes at the Chicago location of the Trapeze School of New York. It’s exhilarating and incredibly fun!
- Dance Forever: If you have a dance background and miss it like you miss a lost piece of your soul, this is the class for you! You enter the “adult” side of the studio by climbing the marble stairs, into a world of disco balls and jungle prints (not kidding), where you walk through lacquered red doors into a dimly lit studio glowing under the glitter of a giant disco ball. The classes are fast paced, which means they are a wonderful workout, but they are so much more than that – they’re fun! If you leave a class here without a big smile on your face, something is wrong. You’ll do an invigorating warm-up then learn a funky dance. After you master the dance, you get to do it over and over, to new songs, each progressively getting faster. The instructors (my personal fave is Julia Kummerow) are all up-beat and peppy, which makes sense since they are all professional dancers. It’s truly a blast!
- Hang 5 Fitness: The Hang 5 studio, which falls within a larger studio, or fitness mall as it is referred by, is cool in and of itself. It’s open and airy, giving off Santa Monica beach chic vibes. It even houses a juice bar for pre or post workout fuel. They have a ton of unique classes, all of which are fun and a great workout, but the one that’ll have you saying “surfs up dude” is the SURF class. You get to simulate a surfing experiencing in a fitness studio. Tubular don’t you think?! The surfboards are real, and are built to give you the feel of riding the waves of the ocean. You learn surf terminology and get to have fun on the board, mixed with interval training too (think ropes, burpees, etc.). The class was the perfect blend of fun and fitness and left me anxious to come back for more.
- Exhale: This studio offers many classes that allow you to focus on your body through Yoga, Barre and more. Sometimes though, the best type of a workout is the recovery. Luckily, Exhale has a class called just that. It’s slow paced, focuses on breathing, stretching and letting your body, well, recover, after more intense workouts. Sometimes we get so focused on pushing ourselves and making exercise hard, that we forget our muscles and our bodies need to recuperate. Stretching and foam rolling help relieve stress and prevent injuries, which is just as important to focus on as building strength and getting fit. Sure, we can do these “recovery” activities on our own, but will we? Having a trained instructor walk you through the Recovery class is definitely more optimal. You can zone out and just let your body align with itself.
- classpass: The place that offers the best of everything, and the “gym” I highly recommend joining is not a gym at all. Through the magic of the modern world, classpass allows you to take classes of all types all over the country. It’s the best possible membership to avoid boredom and burnout. I belonged to a regular gym for 8 years in Chicago, which I loved, but I found I was attending the same types of classes and was getting a little bored. I decided to try classpass, and was hooked. It requires a little more effort, because classes are all over the city, meaning you have to sometimes put in work just to get there. Plus, if you don’t cancel within 12 hours of a scheduled appointment, you are fined. I think it holds me more accountable! You get to choose how many credits you pay for each month (which varies depending on how much you want to workout), can pick classes literally of any type – even open gym time at regular gyms, and best of all, for people who travel a lot, you can workout anywhere classpass classes are offered. It’s an investment in health, fun and best of all yourself!
Signed with Style,