The Chicago Gyms Where You Can Try All the Biggest Fitness Trends for 2020
From float tanks and cryotherapy to the inexplicably en vogue Versa Climber
The 2020s seem poised to be a decade defined by an abundance of choice. There’s a diet for everything, a workout for everything, a new-age remedy for everything … hell, there’s even a Netflix documentary for everything. But with so many options, it can be hard to sift out what’s right for you, and then, once you do, where to find it.
To help you cut through the noise, we tried all the latest fitness trends in gyms around Chicago and compiled a quick guide on what you need to know.
1. Recovery Training
In 2020, recovering from your workout will become as important as the workout itself. It’s a trend that’s trickled down from professional athletes: since they’re basically professional exercisers, if something works for them, it’s definitely going to work for us amateurs.
Essentially an ice bath with no water, cyro uses nitrogen gas to reduce soreness, pain and inflammation. You’ll enter a small, upright metal chamber with only your head popping out the top. Then freezing gas will be released into said chamber for about three minutes. It can be done as a whole body treatment, or target specific areas. If you go for the full body, men must wear underwear to protect their, ahem, external organs.
Where to try it: GOAT Climb & Cryo has their machine out in their lounge making it a fun group activity. Go in one by one and see who handles it best.
Float therapy promotes stress reduction, problem solving and creativity, with claims of being able to speed up recovery of muscles and joints, reduce headaches, improve sleep, improve skin, reduce cravings and provide “super learning.” While some of the lofty claims are yet to be proven with numbers and charts, mega-champions Steph Curry and Tom Brady both swear by it, so it’s probably more than just hype.
Where to try: Freeze + Float, where they stock the model Tom Brady uses in his home. If you are worried about being claustrophobic, start here. Rather than a small capsule, it’s an entire room, and there are a ton of settings that put you in control.
Another one that seems to do it all, with benefits that include injury recovery, pain relief, improved circulation, weight loss and anti-aging. The infrared sauna will raise your core temp three degrees, the same as if you were actually working out, making this a perfect active-recovery-day treat. While traditional saunas heat the air around you, infrared uses radiant heat to heat you directly. You’ll notice the biggest difference from a traditional sauna in the air: you can breathe easy, since the air isn’t dense and hot.
Where to try: Lume Wellness in River North is great if you want a spa feel that’s still in the thick of things. They offer a variety of wellness treatments including massages, IV drips and word is cupping is on the way. If you don’t think you can handle 45 minutes of crushing heat, the saunas at Freeze + Float have Hulu and Netflix in them.
2. Low Impact, High Results
Working smarter, not harder means being nice to your joints. For athletes looking for something lower impact with the same intensity as, say, Crossfit or running training, these two low-impact classes are great options. Be warned: just because it’s less impact doesn’t mean it’s any easier.
Women have been wise to the megaformer for years thanks to celebrity patrons like Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle. Invented by Sebastian Lagree, who wanted to combine his backgrounds in weightlifting, pilates and personal training, the device isolates muscle groups with weighted coils and fast transitions, causing your abs, arms and legs to hit failure in mere seconds. There’s definitely a learning curve to these classes, but you will be glad for the excuse to take breaks.
Where to try: Studio Lagree (associated with the man himself), Solidcore, Chi50
Yep, that’s a machine from the ‘80s. Rise Nation in LA popularized its resurgence with their high-intensity, low-impact cardio workout, and now Chicago is stepping up. These 30-minute group fitness classes use individual tablets to track your progress against others in the class, and also help you switch between short, medium and long strides depending on the song. Think of any good spin class you’ve been to, replace the bikes with stationary climbing machines, and there you have it.
Where to try: GOAT Climb & Cryo. It’s worth mentioning that retired Super Bowl Champion Pierre Thomas is the VP at GOAT, proving this is not for the faint of heart.
3. Functional HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)
Crossfit may be the most popular school of HIIT, but it’s not the only one. If you’re looking for something a little less culty but no less ass-kicking, try one of the gyms below.
An Australian franchise that’s slowly been carving out a US market, with 22 studios in various states of opening around Chicagoland. A favorite of Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman, F45 is a great fit for anyone who misses playing organized sports. Studios offer a week of free classes so you can really try it out before shelling out a dime. Each day is a different class: Monday, Wednesday and Friday are cardio, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday are strength, and Saturday is a hybrid. The same exact class is offered all day long all around the world via TV screens that show a video of each station and timer for each set. Each class lasts 45 minutes. Use their map to find an independently owned studio in your area.
Located on Desplaines near Ogilivie, a location that makes it easy to add this gym to your commute. Founded by a local husband-and-wife team, TRAIN MOMENT aims for a smarter workout. Their goal was to design a HIIT workout that D1 athletes would love (he’s an ex-Notre Dame football player). That’s not to scare you off, it’s just to assure you that this workout is efficient. The black-and-white studio features three distinct areas: free weights, “the rig” and versa climbers. It’s about smart, maximum effort in each, which means heavy weights and less reps when it’s time to lift, and all-out, low-impact effort on the versas when it’s time for cardio.
4. Wellness Retreats
Self care is huge right now, and for good reason: it’s an election year, we’re maybe on the brink of war, Britain is still trying to leave the E.U. … there’s a lot of sh*t going on. Mental stress causes physical ailments, so it’s important to carve out time to stay centered. You don’t have to travel to Sedona to enjoy the benefits of a rejuvenating retreat — these two options are making it easy for you right here in your own backyard.
The Kimpton Gray in downtown Chicago is teaming up with ASweatLife to host two single-day wellness events. Pick between Saturday 1/25 or Sunday 1/26 an attend sessions on mindful eating, taking your career to the next level and making time for self-care. In between sessions, jump into a HIIT workout, yoga class, tissue treatment or happy hour. Tickets are $150, and The Gray is offering a special $99 room rate for conference attendees.
Looking to get out of the city? CHILL Chicago is hosting a one day retreat at The Oak Brook Bath & Tennis Club on February 12. The property sits on 20 acres of woodlands and will have you zenned out in no time. This retreat focuses on the benefits of guided meditation, and includes lunch, yoga flow and a soothing sound bath, all in a tight six hours. You’ll be back home in time for dinner.
Where to try it: Oakbrook Retreat
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