While I didn’t exactly seek out the most expensive classes I could find with ClassPass, I certainly enjoy getting a good deal, and I think this round of reviews proves that. On a drop-in basis, these four classes alone would have cost me $120. ClassPass, may I remind you, is $99 for a month. A month. This week should have cost $120. Aside from getting a killer deal, I also got a bunch of variety in my weekly workouts, and I got to try a few new things!
Urbancore Pilates & Fitness (3656 N. Lincoln Ave.)
Class: Group Reformer Level 1-2
Time: Monday, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $35
Odds and Ends: While ClassPass recommends arriving 15 minutes early to this and every other class, the studio is quite open, and when I arrived 15 minutes early, I immediately turned around and took a lap around the block to kill time, since there was no waiting area where I could conveniently pretend like I wasn’t excessively early without interrupting the mat class going on before my reformer class.
Summary: Because reformer classes tend to be way more expensive than mat classes, I was pleasantly surprised to see this offered via ClassPass. I had never taken a reformer class before (though I’ve spent plenty of quality time with a reformer, thanks to physical therapy), so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Compared to my experience with mat Pilates, this was a surprisingly gentle workout. The three others in my class were regulars, so the teacher had plenty of time to help me out if my form was incorrect or I couldn’t figure out how to operate things. Though I definitely didn’t break a sweat, this was a nice way to wind down on Monday night.
Would I go back?: Only with ClassPass (see: $35).
Pilates ProWorks Chicago (2128 N. Halsted)
Class: Pilates Pro
Time: Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $30
Odds and Ends: If you have socks with grippys on them, I would DEFINITELY suggest wearing them for a Pilates Pro class. I tried this in regular socks and…it could have gone better. I ended up barefoot probably halfway through the class because I needed the extra grip.
Summary: This is not your classic Pilates class and was the absolute opposite of the class I took at Urbancore. Pilates ProWorks has its own specially-designed reformer (which looks and operates very much like a usual reformer), and we used the machine for everything: lunges, “Pilates burpees” (where you push the carriage out and then bend your knees to come back in rather than jumping), splits, and more. Nearly everything we did involved our entire bodies — we didn’t just lunge, for example, but lunged while doing shoulder presses with three-pound weights. This class beat. me. up. While it was a good workout, I didn’t like that the teacher only provided one option for resistance-based exercises. We all had to set our springs at the same level, and on some leg moves in particular, I absolutely could not handle that kind of resistance. My form was extremely compromised as a result, which I’m sure made the workout far less effective than it would have been if I had performed the exercise at a resistance level more appropriate for my abilities. While I suppose I could have altered my resistance on my own–I mean, what would she have done, kicked me out of class? Banned me from the studio?–it didn’t really seem like an option, and I didn’t like that.
Would I go back?: Unlikely. I wasn’t really feelin’ it, though I imagine the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Trainology Fitness (309 W. Chicago)
Class: TRAIN45 Total Body
Time: Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $25
Odds and Ends: This studio is immediately off the Brown Line. If you’re on a Loop-bound train, it is literally 13 steps from the station to the front door (plus two more flights of steps to get up to the actual studio). (It’s 90 steps if you’re coming from the Kimball-bound side, in case you were wondering 😛 )
Summary: This class ended up having a structure very similar to that of my Shred415 class the week before, and once again, I LOVED IT. These treadmill/strength classes are my JAM, you guys. Just like at Shred, at Trainology, you make all the decisions in terms of speed or weight, which I think is a substantially better training method than what you may find at other studios (coughPilatesProWorkscough). We did two running intervals on the treadmill and two circuit-style strength intervals that utilized our body weight, dumbbells, and TRX. The treadmills they have at this place are faaaaaaaancy: they can go up to a 30% incline, which in and of itself is pretty insane (Trainology also offers HIKE classes, where these kind of inclines come in handy. We never got above a 15%), but they can also go down to -3%, which I had never before experienced on a treadmill. I also have to say that the teacher was awesome. This was the first class I attended with a male teacher, and the first class that actually had a male student. I never imagined that the lack of diversity in fitness classes would bother me, but honestly, that’s been one of my biggest beefs with my fitness classes across the board to this point: until my class at Trainology, I had taken ONE class that had ONE person–ONE–who was not a white woman. Granted, all of my classes up to that point had been in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, or Old Town, and I’m sure that contributed to things…but still. Anyway, the lack of diversity in my fitness class experience is another rant for another day. Moral of the story here: I thought this class was the bomb, especially as a runner, and I left in the best mood.
Would I go again?: Absolutely, but again, there’s that whole money thing…
AIR – River North (676 N. La Salle)
Class: AIR Foundation
Time: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $30
Odds and Ends: I didn’t see any changing space in this studio (though just because I didn’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist), so if possible, I’d recommend coming to this class dressed to work out.
Summary: I had actually read a couple of less-than-glowing reviews of AIR, so I worried that I wouldn’t enjoy the experience. As it turns out, I had a great time! AIR uses aerial silk hammocks (think circus/acrobatics) as an apparatus to aid the workout, and we used it the entire time, whether as a prop for a foot or leg or as something to hold while doing pullups. We also used the fabric for trick-type things: hanging upside down and using your hands to climb up the fabric like a rope, for example. I’m not normally very confident when it comes to things that involve heights or my feet being off the ground, but I had SO much fun playing on the fabric! It definitely made my arms and hands sore, but I really enjoyed it.
Would I go again?: Definitely. (Except for the money, yadda yadda). This seems like something that gets much easier with practice.