City Fitness: Where to Go, What to Do, and the Rea...

City Fitness: Where to Go, What to Do, and the Reality of City Living

Though juggling a social life, work, chores and any other responsibilities can be hard in itself, trying to stay fit as a young adult can be a sizeable feat. While living in a big city does provide you with a few more outlets to fulfill your fitness aspirations, it can be difficult to navigate prices, memberships and effectiveness of classes. If you find yourself interested in adding a new level of fitness to your lifestyle but you are not exactly sure where to start, pocket a few of these ideas.

Tips for Being Active in the City:

1: Never sign up at a gym that does not offer single classes at a discount or for free, or you risk putting down a lot of money for a gym that whose services you might not like. 

2: Chicago has a lot of cheap or free outdoor locations where you can work out – utilize them. You can go for a run along the Chicago Lakefront trails, rent a Divvy Bike and go for a ride through the city, or go for a scenic jog along Chicago’s elevated running paths that also happen to be an abandoned railway, The 606.

3: Kim McEvilly, senior ambassador of CHAARG, recommends using ClassPass. ClassPass provides access to many different exercise classes in the city for a membership at a discounted rate. CHAARG is an all women’s workout group that offers discounted classes within the CHAARG group at different studios around the city, and it has chapters at both DePaul University and UIC. “If you are looking to explore different studios, ClassPass is a great option — you can try out different classes at studios around the city for just $30 a month,” said McEvilly.

My Favorite Workout Locations:

These are some of my favorite places to work out in Chicago, both for their budget-friendly prices and fun and effective classes.

1: Shred415 – This is one studio workout that will really kick your butt. The workout is 45 minutes to an hour of high-intensity-interval training (HIIT) that switches between sprints on a treadmill, floor work, and rowing. “I love their HIIT classes because I am able to work on both cardio and strength training in one class. The instructors are also very helpful and motivational,” said Steffi Helene, a member of CHAARG. 

The Deal: $20 for any 45 minute class when you first sign up.

Locations in Chicago: Lincoln Park (2150 N. Clybourn Ave), Wicker Park (1444 N. Milwaukee Ave), Old Town (230 W. Division Street), South Loop (1136 S. Delano Court West)


2: Row House – This is a studio that is based off the idea of every person participating is a team member on a boat. Everyone in this class hops on a rowing machine and rows in sync to the beat of a playlist of Top 40 upbeat songs, accompanied by breaks for weight training. The instructors keep people taking the class on track by calling them out by name during the workout to acknowledge those who are working hard. Just make sure you bring gloves if this is your first time rowing, because your hands might blister. 

The Deal: Your first class is free, after that drop-ins are $32.

Locations in Chicago: Lincoln Park (2051 N. Clybourn Ave), Fulton Market (185 N Halsted Street), Naperville (1275 S. Naper Boulevard), Old Town (1226 N. Wells Street)


3: SoulCycle – SoulCycle is a cult classic, and for good reason. Although I am not the biggest cycling fan myself, I always have fun and get an effective workout out of these classes. The night club-esque light show and music during cycling sessions brings energy to the class that is only rivaled by the enthusiastic and encouraging instructors that cheer you on during the course of the workout. 

The Deal: $34 a session.

Locations in Chicago: North Shore (4999 Old Orchard Center), Old Town (1225 N. Wells Street), Southport (3423 N. Southport Avenue), The Loop (111 W. Wacker)


4: Aerial Fitness – Perhaps one of the more interesting workouts of Chicago, Aerial Fitness is a full-body workout. For the first 45 minutes of class, participants wrap themselves up in aerial silks normally used for shows, and do toning workouts based off keeping yourself off the ground using the silks. The last fifteen minutes of class, the instructors show you a series of poses and tricks you can do with the silks that are more just for a good photo opportunity.

 The Deal. Get $30 for one class, $99 for your first month of unlimited classes, or $50 for your first week of unlimited classes.

Locations in Chicago: Lincoln Park (2217 N Clybourn Ave), River North (357 W. Erie Street), South Loop (1317 S. Michigan Ave)

Not Worth Your Money:

There are some gyms in Chicago that seem to be so expensive, it is hard to justify buying a membership there. Both Equinox and East Bank Club are ridiculously expensive – Equinox ranging from $170-260 a month for a membership, and East Bank Club at $180 a month plus a $500 initiation fee. Neither gym offers discounts for single classes, so do not even try. 

Staying fit in a big city does not have to be a time consuming activity that ends with burning a hole in your pocket. With the right tips, anyone can navigate city fitness with savviness. Give a couple of free classes scattered around the city a try, take a run to a new area, and you might find your new fitness niche.