I’ve lived in Chicago almost four years now and I’ve certainly been to my fair share of fitness classes. I’ve met tons of people in the fitness community through teaching both boutique and corporate fitness, yet I can’t believe that I haven’t written this post yet!
Here is my list of the 10 best places to work out in Chicago. Keep in mind that what I like may not be what you like, but I did add in a couple yoga studios at the end because I’ve either been there or they came highly recommended by others in the industry. If you’re looking for a specific type of workout (spinning, Pilates, etc.) that you don’t see on this list, you can always leave a comment or shoot me an email and I’m happy to help you out.
Also keep in mind that many studios and gyms offer specials for first timers. If it’s your first time, make sure to reach out and you’ll often get anything from a free class to a free first week!
This is the gym I currently belong to and have been attending almost exclusively for over a year now. Before BTY I did bootcamp and HIIT-style classes which I still love and advocate, but I felt like I reached a plateau in my performance and was looking for a way to take things to the next level.
BTY is a strength and conditioning workout that incorporates barbell, kettlebell, and other types of weighted work. Rather than other workouts which change regularly, the workouts at BTY are meant to build upon what you’ve been doing in a particular programming cycle. Each day focuses on specific movements and you can know what to expect in the format for the coming weeks. I have gotten much stronger and enjoy watching myself get better over time by tracking my progress.
Beginners: if you’re nervous about working with heavier weights, Wed and Sat are Sweatlab classes which are more performance based (no barbells).
Crosstown is great because there are numerous locations and the classes use a good mix of equipment. It’s your standard bootcamp style class and you’ll definitely leave knowing that you got a great workout in.
3. Studio Three
If I could give an award for most beautiful studio, it would definitely go to Studio Three. It’s not just good looks, though; Studio Three brings its A-game.
Located in River North, the studio is actually home to three different types of workouts — spinning, intervals, and yoga. With three floors to choose from and a delicious smoothie bar in the lobby, you really can’t go wrong. My favorite classes are the interval classes on the bottom level, but I’ve heard great things about all of them.
Living in Chicago means we really only have about 100 days of nice, warm weather a year. This makes it hard if you like to run outside and don’t want to suit up to do so in an arctic tundra. Runner’s High offers an indoor option for when you want to get your runs in by filling a room full of treadmills.
This may sound horrible to some of you, but hear me out. In each class, a travel destination is projected on the front wall, making it feel like you are running through countries like France. The treadmill is automatically programmed with your baseline speed and adjusts without a finger from you to changing speeds and inclines. You can always increase or decrease your speed manually if need be to challenge yourself or take it easier that day.
If you like running, I definitely recommend it as an alternative to running in inclement weather or on a gym treadmill staring at yourself in the mirror.
Founded my Nike Master Trainer Emily Hutchins, OYM is a gym that doesn’t mess around. Classes range from endurance to HIIT and you can also choose from personal training options if you’re not into the whole class thing.
OYM is another studio where everywhere I looked I saw different types of equipment. There’s literally something for everyone and the trainers there are top notch. Locations can be found in West Loop and Bucktown.
Don’t let the Crossfit in the name scare you — there are other class options for you to choose from if that’s not your thing. Atlas also has performance classes such as Circuit Fit, Kettlebells, Metcon, and HIIT.
Every performance class I’ve done has been great and I’ve felt challenged during each minute. Definitely recommend if you’re in the area.
7. Hard Pressed
There are two options when going to Hard Pressed – the strength and the conditioning. Both are only 30 minutes because the intensity at which you do movements doesn’t really require much more. The first time I attended an individual strength session there, I laid on the floor for 15 minutes after the workout to assure that I wouldn’t faint. Yikes.
The conditioning aspect is the class option while the strength sessions are 1-on-1. If you’re not committing to regular attendance, then I would advise against the strength session. Conditioning is always good to pop in to once in awhile or by all means regularly. My point is that working to improve strength requires time and consistency, so if you’re not interested in that, stick with the conditioning.
You’ve likely heard of Barry’s Bootcamp at some point in your life given that their tagline is “the #1 workout in the world.” Barry’s is a combination of treadmills and floor work and definitely has a but of a cult following like Soulcycle. It is a good workout, but based on that fact, classes and memberships are expensive and are also listed as Premium if you have Classpass (hello 20 credits!).
Even though I’m not a big yoga fan, I have been to some classes at CorePower and they are legit. Both this and the following yoga studio came highly recommended by avid fitness friends who take much better care of their bodies than I do with yoga. HA.
Whether it’s the heat of the CP2 class or the fact that no two classes are the same, CorePower is sure to give you what you’re looking for.
Another yoga recommendation from several people, Bare Feet can be found in the West Loop. With over 20 different types of classes, there’s no shortage of options. Keep in mind when signing up that all of the classes at the Monroe location are heated, while the ones at the Madison location are not.
Do you have a favorite place that didn’t make the list? Make sure to let me know in the comments!