Choosing a gym has all the sex appeal of renewing a passport.
But holding on to the last bit of winter weight is not an option. So rather than shoot in the dark and sign up for the nearest big box, let’s talk goals.
Are you looking for the fastest route to a slimmer waist, no frills necessary? Do you work out at weird hours? Is a decent spa requisite? Are you trying to meet women?
This is Chicago Gyms, Decoded, in which 15 sweathouses are paired with the type of gymgoer they’re best suited for.
Best for Class Variety Without Sacrificing Quality: Equinox
A class junkie’s paradise. From cardio-forward boxing workouts to precision treadmill running, there’s something for every style of movement, not to mention some of the cleanest facilities and plushest amenities in the city.
Best for the Boxer Who Actually Wants to Get in the Ring: Sam Colonna Boxing
You want Sam in your corner. The man knows how to run a fighter’s gym — he was the head trainer at the legendary Windy City Boxing Club before it closed in 2006. He’s undisputedly the best, most experienced trainer out there.
Best for Learning How to Kick the S*** Out of Someone: Valko BJJ
If it’s chokeholds and armbars you seek, this is your place. Train with Jay Valko, who has basically won every Brazilian jiu jitsu title on the planet.
Best for Aspiring Ninja Warrior Applicants: Brooklyn Boulders
The foundation of beating the world’s toughest obstacle course? The ability to scale all the walls. This is the best place to do so.
Best for the Gymgoer on a Budget: Planet Fitness
Yes, the purple-and-yellow color scheme is harsh on the eyes. Yes, the locker rooms are … dubious. But at 10 bucks a month, you almost can’t afford not to join.
Best for Yogis Who Don’t Need All That New-Agey Mumbo Jumbo: Bottom Line Yoga
Two convenient locations at the Chicago Board of Trade and Civic Opera Building aimed at busy professionals. They’ve got nap rooms, plus dedicated in-office programs.
Lakeshore Sport & Fitness
Best for Guys Who Still Wear Letterman Jackets: Lakeshore Sport & Fitness
Sports, you say? You’ve got basketball courts, squash courts, a golf simulator, a 10-story climbing wall, a pool and fine steam and sauna amenities.
Best for Quick Results: DNS Performance
Because work doesn’t stop at the gym, personal training with a side of nutritional coaching. You’ll get high-intensity training and rehabilitation to ensure peak performance. Their homebase? The no-frills, all-work HiFi Fitness.
Best for the Burner Set: Shred415
Just when you think you can breathe, it’s hill sprints on hill sprints. This is high-intensity circuit training in tiptop form.
Best Place to Meet a Lady: Studio Three
Its name might stand for the fact that it houses three studios in one, but think of it more as the women-to-men ratio, which is currently at 3:1.
Best Place to Avoid Ladies: Quads Gym
You even lift, bro?
Best for Night Owls: XSport
With more than 30 locations in the Chicagoland area, XSport is Chicago’s go-to 24 hour gym.
Best for Pampering: Soho House
Yes, it’s members-only. But upside if ya get in: all those members-only perks, including poolside lounging on the roof post-workout.
Best for Closing a Deal: East Bank Club
Notable members: Oprah, Rahm and Obama. It’s something of the king of upscale gyms, catering to every sport imaginable. Grab a meeting room. Shake hands. Hit the indoor driving range or go for a swim after.
Best For “But, My Knees ...”: Sproing Sport
It’s like a treadmill, but with a soft, stationary pad. Sure, it kinda’ looks like a weird BDSM contraption, but it’s actually a godsend for runners and non-runners alike looking for a low-impact workout.