As I mentioned last week, I’m in the midst of a month of ClassPass, which grants me access to fitness classes at dozens of studios around Chicago. Prior to ClassPass, I had only ever attended three studio-based fitness classes (unless you count CorePower Yoga, I guess). With that limited experience, just about every studio I’ve visited through ClassPass has been new to me. Obviously this only reflects my one experience with one class and one teacher, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the studio as a whole, but hopefully this will help give you some guidance when it comes to class selection if you ever find yourself in my shoes!
(For the sake of disclosure: I received my month of ClassPass for free, but not because of my blog. ClassPass’s staff, as far as I know, has no idea that I have a blog and obviously didn’t ask me to blog about my experience. I just need content now that the marathon’s over 😛 I genuinely think ClassPass is an AWESOME business, all of these opinions are my own, and there aren’t any sort of referral links hidden in here, since I don’t think ClassPass even has a referral program.) (Though if you’d like me to refer you to something, I have more than enough referral links to hand out for all sorts of things! Haha.)
Moksha Yoga – Lakeview (3334 N. Clark)
Class: Hatha Vinyasa 1-2
Time: Monday, 7:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $18
Odds and Ends: Moksha provides everything you need for yoga, including mats, at no cost. Pretty handy if you don’t want to lug your own mat around!
Summary: I had no idea what to expect from a “hatha vinyasa 1-2” class, but what I got was a perfect-for-my-experience-level yoga class. I wouldn’t recommend this class for true beginners, as the teacher often used “real” yoga pose names rather than English-ified pose names, so it’s helpful to have some sort of a base before taking this class, I think. The class is room temperature, which I am ALL about. I’ve heard classes at Moksha Yoga can be a bit ~yoga-y~, if you will–chanting and all that–but that wasn’t my experience at this particular class. I didn’t break a sweat in the class, but I felt like I got in a quality amount of gentle movement. The class also featured a little bit of restorative/yin yoga, which I thought was a lovely way to end my Monday.
Would I go back?: Probably, if I needed to fit something in on a Monday (and didn’t want to shower afterwards 😉 )
Power Sculpt Fitness (3119 N. Lincoln)
Class: Barre Express
Time: Thursday, 5:20 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $7.50
Odds and Ends: I *think* there may be an additional changing area behind the studio, but from what I saw, there’s only one changing room at PSF, and only one person can use it at a time. If possible, I’d recommend coming to class in your workout clothes.
Summary: Approximately two minutes into class, I had one thought on my mind: “I hate this. I hate barre classes. Why did I sign up for a barre class when I know I hate barre classes?”
Honestly, the only thing I liked about the class was the fact that it only lasted 30 minutes. The studio was lovely, and the teacher was good at her job, but man, barre just is not my thing. I don’t like the workout style. I definitely don’t like the clientele it tends to attract. I don’t like feeling fat, and poor, and inadequate, and weak, and that’s exactly how I felt in this class, surrounded by Lululemon-clad women with waists tinier than my thighs and arms that would make Jennifer Aniston jealous while my stomach spilled over the top of the C9 crops I bought at Target three years ago–the only pair of crops I own, thanks–and my biceps refused to move. Mind you, I don’t think this is necessarily a reflection on PSF on the whole or my instructor, but yeah. Not my scene.
Would I go back?: Nopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenope. Maybe to a different class at PSF, but definitely not to this one.
Sproing Sport Club (1652 N. Wells)
Time: Friday, 6 a.m. to 6:45 a.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $25
Odds and Ends: Sproing has AWESOME shower facilities, if that’s something you need (like I do when I work out in the morning). They provide everything: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, towels, hair dryer, straightener, etc. There are only two showers, but I was the only one who stuck around after class to shower, so that wasn’t a problem for me.
Summary: HOLY SMOKES. This class was no joke. When you check in, the staff hands you a heart rate monitor (you’re required to purchase one if you regularly attend classes at Sproing, but ClassPass members don’t have to since we can only come three times per month, according to my teacher) and then sends you off to the Sproing machine. A Sproing machine looks vaguely like a treadmill, but in reality is NOTHING like a treadmill. Instead of a belt, the machine features an inflated bed that allows you to work hard without pounding your body to pieces. The machine also includes resistance bands for strength work and a large belt you wear around your waist to allow you to lean without fear of falling.
As the name suggests, the class features 30 straight minutes of HIIT work with 20 seconds of all-out exercise followed by 10 seconds of recovery. Sprints, push ups, planks, mountain climbers, squats, lunges: you name it, we did it. A screen in the front of the room picks up the signal from your heart rate monitor and displays your heart rate (and, more importantly to the instructor, which “zone” you’re in) for all to see so you don’t phone it in on your workout. I don’t think this method is entirely effective, since heart rates vary so much from person to person (my heart rate, for example, usually hangs out in the 160s on a long run that feels easy. Conventional wisdom puts that in the 80-90% range for someone my age, but let’s be honest: there is no way I, or anyone else, could run 18 miles and have it feel EASY if I was actually working at 80-90% of my maximum heart rate. I don’t actually know my max heart rate, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say since my heart rate tends to get pretty high on easy exercise [asymptomatically — no need to start lambasting me about dangling on the precipice of a heart attack], my max heart rate is probably higher than 196.), but it does hold you accountable. Based on my shirt after class, I think it’s safe to say I worked hard.
Would I go back?: Most likely. My teacher said it gets much easier the more you do it and get used to the equipment, and by the end of class I enjoyed my workout much more than I did at the beginning.
Shred415 – Old Town (230 W. Division)
Class: Total Body
Time: Sunday, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $24
Odds and Ends: “415” refers to the original style of Shred workouts, which featured four 15-minute sets (two of running, two of strength). Not all workouts follow that style anymore, though. In my class, we did 15/15, 10/10, 5/5 (which personally I LOVED). When I was at PT last week, someone in the clinic said there’s an “endurance” class that does 30/30. I don’t know if there’s a way of knowing ahead of time which workout you’ll do, but at least this makes things different.
Summary: I loved this class. Loved it, loved it, loved it. The class combines running intervals (on Woodway treadmills! Those are like the Bentleys of the treadmill world.) with strength training intervals to keep things interesting and challenging in different ways. My favorite part about Shred was that you controlled the workout intensity: the teacher never told you how fast you had to run or what weights you had to lift. Some people in class walked throughout all our running intervals while the girl next to me busted out times I could never handle. The teacher offered plenty of strength training alternatives if you couldn’t handle the suggested exercise, and you chose how heavy you wanted to lift. My teacher was the perfect balance of challenging and encouraging, making this my hands down favorite class of the week.
Would I go back?: Absolutely, but only on ClassPass. I definitely couldn’t afford Shred on my own.
And that was week one! I hit up a bunch of new studios last week, and I’ll be sure to fill you in on my experiences with them as well 🙂
What’s your favorite workout style?