Empower, Explore

Sweatworking Week: Sweating My Way Through Chicago

Since my first group fitness class freshman year four years ago, I have been in love with group fitness. For four years, I taught so many classes that I seldom had time to try others. This past year, since working at ENRGi Fitness and becoming involved with Nike Training Club, I began trying out new fitness classes and trying new workouts. The more I tried, the more I fell in love, and I began meeting lots of new fellow #fitfam. Several of them attended Sweatworking events and encouraged me to join, but I always had conflicts with either teaching my own classes or working. When I heard that Sweatworking was taking an entire week to try out fitness classes all around the city, I knew I had to participate.

Sweatworking Week, created by A Sweat Life, is comparable to Restaurant Week as you get to try a little bit of everything. Three classes are offered a day in the morning, during lunch, and in the evening. Classes are only for Sweatworking Week Attendees, so everyone is friendly and there are no front row divas to make you feel like an incompetent newbie. At the beginning of each class, everyone introduces themselves to at least two new people —  Sweating + Networking. My goal for the week was to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people, and most importantly, sweat A LOT!

On Monday, I attended the very first morning class, The Pursuit, at Equinox. This was my second visit to Equinox, which is a super bougie gym suitably located in the basement of Bloomingdale’s. The facilities are magnificent, and it’s no wonder that Equinox is considered one of the main high-end gym franchises. I’m not the biggest cycling fan, but it has grown on me. I’ve tried FlyWheel and typically cycling classes, but the entire hour, I’m always fixated on how much my bum hurts and HOW the person next to me is running on the bike like the Looney Tunes Roadrunner. I’ve fallen in love with SoulCycle (the seats are bigger so they don’t hurt your crotch!) as a fun, easier workout, but The Pursuit probably my new favorite competitive cycling class.

The screen in front of stadium seating uses graphic circles to symbolize your bike. The more resistance you use, the brighter your circle gets (I loved this to keep those Roadrunners from being show-offs). The Pursuit used games with the circles that involved partners and teams. This kept it fun and interactive, while also building camaraderie in the class. Also, these seats were comfortable too. They even offered water and cold towels from a cooler during breaks in class. Classy, right? I was surprised they didn’t offer cycling shoes, but I’m sure most regulars there have their own shoes to clip in.

Other classes offered on Monday were FTrain at On Your Mark and B|X at Brick. On Tuesday, the classes offered were AIR, again FTrain, and a Volleyball Game at Montrose Beach. The first two were not in Gold Coast/River North area, so I wasn’t able to find time to go, and I don’t play volleyball. I know, I’m tall, I should be able to, but when I was a precious preteen growing faster than my body could handle, I was virtually a skeleton and volleyballs hurt my wrists so badly.

Anyway. I took a SWAT class at ENRGi (the best circuit class around!) and did the first Nike Running Club Speed Run of the season. In the spirit of the Olympics, we did a Mo Farah run, which kicked my ass. I know I should train for my half marathon with sprints… but ugh. I like running for fun and to explore, not on a track.

Back to Sweatworking Week! On Wednesday, Headstrong was offered at Equinox, Flight Class was offered at CorePower Yoga, and I attended Hardpressed. I’ve heard that Hardpressed is one of the hardest strength-training ever, and I knew that there was a studio right by ENRGi. I go there and realize I am at the wrong location. I take a Lyft to the Michigan Ave location, and soon realize this is not heavy lifting like I expected. I got more sprints in with the conditioning workout at this conditioning specific facility that resembles an athletic training space. I did sprints on treadmills, ASSAULT bikes, sleds, again treadmills, battle ropes, plate sleds, Bulgarian bag squats, and some more sprints. Someone puked, and they said most people puke their first time. Oh. Did I mention I had an audition at ENRGi after? Poor planning on my part, but I also really enjoyed kicking my own ass. I may not do NRC for half training, but I would so do this.

On Thursday, Brick offered another B|X, but I had to work the morning shift at ENRGi. Thankfully, one of my gifts was a free week to Brick! I can’t wait to finally try CrossFit and see if all of my shit talking was worthwhile. There was another Hardpressed class, but I attended HIIT at the Barre Code in the evening. This was such a fun class because I love embracing my inner dancer and pointing my toes, even if it is for HIIT. There were no props involved and lots of jumping. For anyone who thinks they’re too good for barre but wants a lower-impact workout, I recommend this.

Side note: We got free water, Skinny Pop, Luna Bars, and Coconut Water after every class (yum!). Leaving Barre Code, there was a homeless woman begging on the street. I usually ignore them (it’s Chicago, sorry), but this one asked for food and alas — I had food! However, she turned me down. “I don’t want any of that healthy stuff! Can you go in CVS and buy me candy and soda?” ….. *drops mic.*

On Friday, there was Cardio and Core Bootcamp at Kick@55, Warrior Conditioning at ENRGi, and Boxing at Title. I attended all but the class at my actual studio… Sorry Hayden! Kick@55 seriously kicked ass. The facilities are small but have lots of equipment for a killer class. In the evening, I fell in love with boxing. I’ve taught Turbo Kick and Cardio Kickboxing, but I loved actually punching shit and not just punching the air. This was hands down one of the hardest workouts of my life, but by far the most fun and favorite one I’ve ever done. It was more than just boxing but also core and strength. There may have been  A LOT of burpees. I will definitely be purchasing a class package to here, even if it breaks my bank. It’s that worth it.

On Saturday, the classes offered were Floor Lab, Pure Barre, CrossTown Fitness Total Body, and Core Power Fusion at Exhale. I tried CrossTown Fitness, which was very similar setup to SWAT at ENRGi. Lots of circuits, lots of equipment, and lots of variation between classes and instructors. I loved it, of course. We did booty work with different lunge variations, deadlifts, squats, and rows. I got to partner up with the famous Jeana herself, which made for an even more awesome workout, especially when we’re singing (or attempting to) Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling.”

On Sunday, I made the most of recovery. I took 7am Hot Yoga at CorePower and fell in love. Dance teachers of mine have always discouraged it because of the dangers of heating your body externally and stretching, but I don’t think I did any stretching that was beyond my normal range of motion. It felt relaxing and rejuvenating, and when I went outside, it was still warmer, so I was able to cool off naturally. I’m looking forward to using my free week at CorePower later this summer (P.S. this is available to anyone and everyone at any location!).

After breakfast, I headed to Yoga Six for Deep Recovery Stretch. This was magnificent. I would love to design my bedroom to look like this studio because it was that relaxing. The instructor was so attentive and made sure all of our needs were met (which meant opening our hip flexors LOTS!). I skipped the last workout of the day at SWEAT, but I’m looking forward to trying my day pass there.

In the afternoon, we celebrated the end of Sweatworking Week with a party on the rooftop at FFC. These facilities were SO COOL and so fun to explore while a little tipsy. The drinks were bomb (and had wheatgrass in them, so we were being *healthy*). After the hot as balls week, the chilly temps were a little hard to tolerate after the sun wasn’t shining, but everyone still had a blast. There was great food from Bang Chop Thai and even a DJ. It was the cherry on top of a fabulous week of sweating.

Jeana is awesome, and if you haven’t met her yet, her infectious positivity will make you question why you’re not best friends. She has monthly Sweatworking events (next one will be at Brick!) and Sweatworking Week is going to be happening twice a year, next time in January. It will be lit.

In our swag bags, we received lots of free passes to the studios, and I seriously can’t wait to try them. Like I’m already signed up for one this week — that’s how excited. I also won a free package to Hardpressed Strength (!!!). If you want any extra free passes to try out (preferably alongside me), let me know. So many friends say that they want to join me for all of the fun workouts I do, but they find excuses to not make it. The first step to success (and fun!) is simply showing up. Chicago is a prime city for fitness-enthusiasts, and you can explore the city in so many sweat-worthy ways.

What’s your favorite studio or class in the city? What should I try next?

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