May 22, 2017 // Chicago· fitness + wellness
Wearing: Varley top / Alo Yoga leggings / Nike sneakers
Between spin, barre, yoga, HIIT and everything in-between, the fitness class scene is overwhelming. And that’s just in Chicago… New York and Los Angeles probably have three times as many studios to choose from. It begs the question: what’s the optimal mix of classes to take? And how often should you be exercising, anyway?
Noam Tamir, founder of TS Fitness in New York, told Self that working out four to five days a week is optimal for improving fitness and/or staying in shape. He recommends three days of strength training, two of cardio, and active rest the other two days. If you’re only working out four times in a week, you can cut a strength or cardio day based on your goals, or alternate weekly. For endurance, keep the cardio. To tone up, keep the strength training.
But how does that break down if you’re a fitness class devotee, like me? Vogue had the same question and asked two celebrity trainers for their input: Brett Hoebel, whose clients include Karolina Kurkova and Doutzen Kroes, and Harley Pasternak, who has worked with Kim Kardashian West, Natalie Portman and Rhianna.
Their recommendations are similar to Tamir’s: Hoebel suggests three days of strength training, two to three days of cardio-driven high-intensity interval training, and one active recovery day per week. Pasternak prefers three days of aerobic classes and three days of resistance and strength training.
Luckily, Chicago has no shortage of studios to create your perfect workout mix. Here are a few places to check out:
Strength-based resistance training: 2-3 days per week
Hoebel and Pasternak both recommended conditioning with bodyweight resistance to Vogue, which includes classes like barre, pilates and yoga. Try:
- FlyBarre: FlyBarre is easily my favorite barre workout of all the options in Chicago. It’s high-energy, the teachers are fantastic and I always feel accomplished after class. It also helps that it’s right next door to Real Good Juice Co.
- C2 or Yoga Sculpt at CorePower Yoga: CorePower Yoga features a more “athletic” focus than some other studios, and this is especially true in their C2 and Yoga Sculpt classes. C2 classes are heated and always feature a core section (it’s the core in CorePower!), while Yoga Sculpt incorporates free weights and more strength training.
- Pilates ProWorks: Pilates ProWorks uses a “FitFormer” in their pilates classes, which I suppose is somewhere between a regular Pilates reformer and a megaformer. I am not super into Pilates ever since I fell off of a reformer (which I probably shouldn’t admit), but I do like this studio a lot. They also offer classes like Barre, TRX, Tone and Flow (a pilates/yoga combo) and matBox (kickboxing, pilates and yoga).
- AIR Aerial Fitness: Two works: aerial silks! And while aerial yoga (aka AIR Flow) is an option, it’s far from the only one at this studio. Start with AIR Foundation, the beginner class. Beginner definitely doesn’t mean easy, though: those silks are no joke. Then, move on to traditional AIR once you’re ready, or AIR Core, which focuses on upper and lower abs, obliques, and lower back muscles.
- Double floor workouts (i.e., no treadmills, just an hour of strength training floor work) at Barry’s Bootcamp are also an option.
Cardio-driven aerobic or HIIT classes: 2-3 days per week
These are classes that get your heart rate up and stimulate your metabolism, like indoor cycling and Barry’s Bootcamp-style interval training. Try:
- SoulCycle: Does SoulCycle need an introduction at this point? I am completely hooked on their signature mix of indoor cycling, killer playlists, inspirational instructors, supportive community and disco balls. No, for real, the Southport studio has disco balls, and it’s amazing.
- Flywheel: Slate called it “SoulCycle for uber-competitive sadists“… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Take the SoulCycle experience, get rid of the candles and some of the more self-helpy aspects, and replace them with intense athleticism and tech-driven competition and results. That’s Flywheel.
- Peloton Cycle at Studio Three: Studio Three boasts the only Peloton cycling studio outside of New York City. With state-of-the-art sound, studio lighting and results tracking, it’s definitely more technologically-focused than SoulCycle, but not quite as competitive as Flywheel. Studio Three also has interval training and yoga studios, with the hope it will be a one-stop fitness spot in Chicago.
- Barry’s Bootcamp: Touting itself as “the best workout in the world,” at Barry’s Bootcamp you’ll spend half your class time running on a treadmill, and half the time doing strength-building floor exercises, all in a dark, club-like room known as “The Red Room.” Each day of the week focuses on a different body part, like arms and abs or butt and legs. Come for the workout, stay for the Fuel Bar smoothies after class. Pro tip: the Dirty Chai Town is amazing.
- Shred415: Very similar to Barry’s Bootcamp in that classes are split between floor work and treadmills, but available to book on ClassPass. (Barry’s currently is not on ClassPass in Chicago.)
Active recovery: 1-2 days per week
To reset, ease inflammation and give your muscles time to recover, schedule a foam rolling or low-intensity yoga class (great for Sunday afternoons!) Try:
- Hot Power Fusion at CorePower Yoga: CorePower’s HPF is basically a heated Vinyasa class…and one of my absolute favorite ways to stretch and sweat it out. (Are you actually more flexible in heat, or is that just like, a placebo effect?) CorePower also offers a CoreRestore class that’s perfect for recovery days.
- OhmCulture Studio: OhmCulture is a super cool space in the West Loop that offers a variety of yoga classes, workshops, guided meditation and a meditation room.
- Mirepoix Wellness Studio: I haven’t made it over to this new studio in Wicker Park, but it looks so. cute. Also, they have Hip Hop Vinyasa and kombucha on tap.
- Yoga Six: I’m a fan of Yoga Six’s heated Power Yoga classes, but they also offer a non-heated deep stretch class.
- Studios like ENRGi Fitness and Flow Studios also offer specific recovery classes.
I’ll admit: a full six days of classes is a lot, especially when you’re on a budget. Personally, I love to do FlyBarre, yoga and SoulCycle during the week, and maybe throw in an at-home workout if I have the motivation. 😉
Shop some of my current fitness faves below, and let me know what your workout routine is in the comments!