All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately my month of ClassPass was one of those things. During that time, I took 20 classes at 20 different studios, none of which I had ever visited before. Had I paid the normal drop-in rate for these classes, it would have cost $468.50. ClassPass, let me remind you, is $99. That means I saved $369.50 (well, technically I saved $468.50, since my month was comped, but we’ll pretend like I saved $369.50) and paid $4.95 per class instead of the $23.43 I would have averaged per class had I paid only drop-in rates. Personally, I think that alone should be enough to convince anyone interested in studio fitness to give ClassPass a try. You’re simply not going to find a better deal. ClassPass grants you access to studios featuring yoga, Pilates, barre, spin, strength, and HIIT classes, so you cover just about every form of exercise on ClassPass. I think this is the absolute best way to try out a variety of studios around the city, whether you’re new to studio fitness (or even new to town) and want to get a feel for things before committing to any one place or want to mix up your workout regularly. An unlimited month at most of these studios is substantially more expensive than a monthly gym membership, and even 10- or 20-class packs cost obscene amounts of money. ClassPass, as far as I’m concerned, is the way to go.
There were a couple of small complaints I had with ClassPass, however. Personally, I found the 24-hour cancellation policy to be super stressful. While I understand why ClassPass has this policy, and recognize that most studios also have similar policies, I felt a TON of pressure to go to class (because the last thing I wanted to do was pay $20 to not go to class), and more than once had to completely rearrange my schedule around class because other plans/appointments changed with less than 24 hours notice. Most studios don’t allow you to sign up a few hours before class, either, so it’s not like you can browse for classes 30 minutes before you leave the office. I don’t think ClassPass would ever get rid of that policy, but if you have a schedule constantly in flux, I’d certainly be wary of signing up for a class unless you knew 100% that you could make it.
One other minor issue I had with ClassPass was that I always felt like the “new kid,” which, obviously, makes sense, since I was always the new kid, and that was my own doing. However, I imagine studio fitness has the potential to be a great place to meet friends, particularly if you regularly attend the same class. Since ClassPass limits you to three classes per month at any given studio, I think it would be a MUCH greater challenge to make friends this way. However, if you’re looking to develop your independence, ClassPass is a phenomenal way to go about doing that. It forces you to become comfortable in unfamiliar situations, at least if you treat it liked I treated it and don’t repeat studios at all. It’s a wonderful way to do something for yourself, and personally I think that’s great. If you’re more concerned with building relationships than building your independence, however, ClassPass may not be the best fit for you (unless, of course, you want to use ClassPass to find a studio that fits your workout style/personality, and then joined that studio after ClassPass and made friends that way).
ANYWAY. How about four last studio reviews, hm?
Eb & Flow Yoga Studio (1834 W. North Ave.)
Class: Embrace Flow
Time: Sunday, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $25
Odds and Ends: There are no mirrors in Eb & Flow’s large studio, which is where my class took place. While this meant I couldn’t check my form, it also meant I didn’t spend the entire class obsessing about how I looked and comparing myself to how everyone else looked, and that was wonderful.
Summary: You know what’s just delightful on a day when it’s 33 and slightly snowy? Yoga in 82 degrees. Yes x100. Eb & Flow describes this class as a “gentle to moderate pace,” and I’d agree with that evaluation. Class didn’t move fast enough to get my heart pumpin’ but was great for working out some post-run soreness in my calves. We spent a lot of time in downward dog and did some dancers that were surprisingly tough. All of the stretching and gentle movement felt great, and I really, really liked the vibe of this studio. Eb & Flow felt down to earth and accessible, which, I’ve learned, is exactly how I like my fitness classes to feel.
Would I go back?: Absolutely. This was such a nice addition to my Sunday.
FlyBarre – Old Town (1653 N. Wells)
Class: Power 45
Time: Monday, 6:30 a.m. to 7:15 a.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $25
Odds and Ends: There’s a Flywheel class that takes place at the same time as this FlyBarre class, but there are only four showers at Flywheel (one of which was out of order when I was there). If you’re banking on taking a shower after FlyBarre, you may be out of luck if you need one immediately. On the flip side, you probably won’t get sweaty during FlyBarre, and Flywheel has dry shampoo on hand, so you can take a fake shower like I did 😉
Summary: As far as barre classes go, this was wonderfully not-misery inducing. Sara was a great teacher (conclusion: teachers make ALL the difference in barre classes) and had awesome energy for 6:30 on a Monday morning. She said we were going to work our muscles to exhaustion, but I didn’t feel like that was the case with every exercise we did — just with some of them. That’s fine by me, because I’m not entirely sold on the “shaking is a good thing” shtick, and because it made me hate my life much less 🙂 We did do a KILLER hip sequence, though. There were bits of it that reminded me of exercises I’ve received as PT homework in the past, which made me think this class may be a good complement to marathon training.
Would I go back? Probably not. Though I liked the class, this is once again another one of those vibe situations. Flywheel comes across as a bit pretentious, and as I’ve said more than once, that isn’t my scene.
Go Cycle (525 W. North Ave.)
Class: Go Cycle
Time: Tuesday, 6 a.m. to 6:50 a.m.
Teacher: Beth (great name! 😛 )
Normal drop-in rate: $23
Odds and Ends: Now, I did go to this studio on our -12 degree wind chill Chicago explosion day, so maybe that had something to do with it, but the studio was absolutely FREEZING. We warmed up as class went on, of course, but I was so, so, so cold in my crops and short sleeve shirt to start.
Summary: It was Tabata Tuesday at Go Cycle when I went to class, which should give you a pretty good idea of the structure of our workout. We did multiple tabatas at varying levels of resistance along with a variety of other sorts of interval-esque training: hills, flat road, etc. Honestly, the studio couldn’t have been more than 50 degrees or so, but all of the work got me nice and warm, and I was pretty sweaty by the end of things. I felt like I got a really great workout, which is a nice feeling for 6:50 a.m.
Would I go back?: Meh, probably not. I’ve only taken two spin classes in my life, so it may be too early to say anything definitive, but I don’t think spin is my favorite kind of group exercise class. Even though class had a lot of variety in terms of resistance and speed, at the end of the day, you’re still stuck in the same place doing essentially the same thing for an hour. My attention span for that kind of workout caps out at about 30 minutes (part of the reason why I hate treadmill running), and in an indoor workout, I prefer to drastically mix things up as frequently as possible (moving around to different places, doing totally different things, etc.) That’s not to say class was bad — just that my eyes spent more time on the clock than I like them to during a workout.
The Barre Code – Lakeview (953 W. Belmont)
Time: Wednesday, 5:45 p.m. to 6:35 p.m.
Normal drop-in rate: $20
Odds and Ends: Here’s another ridiculously CTA-convenient studio! It’s on the second floor of the building immediately west of the Belmont Brown/Purple/Red line stop. I highly recommend scheduling a PT appointment for right after your class so as to avoid the temptation to go to Blaze for a post-workout pizza 😉
Summary: Oh, here we go again. I didn’t hate this class. I KNOW, I KNOW. I got all up on my barre-is-stupid high horse, and I’ve hated exactly one barre class that I attended through ClassPass. This is what I get for making sweeping declarative statements. That being said, this class was much less barre and much more bootcamp, so maybe I can still maintain that I don’t like barre. We did three sets that focused primarily on cardio intervals (burpees, jumping jacks, toe taps, quick feet, etc.) with short recovery periods and two barre-like strength sets: one for abs and one for the “seat” (can I just say that I hate this term for hip/glute work? Why can’t we call it glutes? Or butt, even. I’d be fine with that. Calling it your “seat” seems to be a barre ~thing~, and I think it’s dumb. “Seat work” makes me think of either 1) quiet time for first graders, required to do work in their seats without talking to their classmates or 2) chair aerobics for 80 year olds. Or pretentious fitness methods that are above using plebeian words like “butt.” *eye roll*). Anyway, diction aside, I enjoyed this workout style and the class.
Would I go back?: Unlikely. Pretentious vibes weren’t quite as strong as at Power Sculpt Fitness, but they also weren’t quite as absent as they were at places like Creative Motion Chicago or Eb & Flow. There were a few people in class–one in front of me in particular–who probably could have used a reminder that barre is not a competitive sport. Not my scene for group fitness.