Green grass and blue skies bookend the boot-camp classes at Bulldog Bootcamp. Leading the outdoor workouts, owner Greg Major and his team of seasoned fitness instructors spur their students on by shouting words of encouragement and tearing Chicken Soup for the Soul books in half. Major—a decorated bodybuilder and inline skater—has been a certified personal trainer since 1989, and has since picked up the credentials to teach CrossFit’s Level 1, Football, and Kids programs. He and his staff stage CrossFit classes at Bulldog Bootcamp’s training facility in Forest Park.
Starting a fitness routine can be intimidating, but the trainers at Evolution Fitness believe that it’s something everyone should do. That’s why they strive to make exercise easier for every one of their members by supplementing gym visits with their wealth of fitness knowledge. To guide guests on their own paths to health, they conduct one-on-one yoga, Pilates, and custom-training sessions. Group classes, meanwhile, add a social aspect to the mix with boot camps, step aerobics, and Zumba, which turns exercise sessions into freewheeling dance routines like a treadmill on a Broadway set.
Students should bring: A yoga mat, water bottle, and towel
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Average class length: 60 minutes
Guests allowed: Yes
Parking: 2 hour free parking
Pro Tip: Classes at Navy Pier are first come first serve. Plan accordingly.
Different people want to get in shape for different reasons, and they go about it in many different ways. Fortunately, Fitness Formula Clubs' trainers understand this. They start every new member at their gym with four complimentary personal-training sessions that not only help hammer down each individual's goals, but also provide a solid foundation of knowledge and motivation. From there, equipment and guidance help each client reach whatever heights they're after.
Programs that focus on endurance in running, swimming, and cycling pair with Pilates work and basketball courts to develop well-rounded regimens. There's also classic equipment?cardio machines and free weights?offsetting a selection of less-than-traditional equipment?an artificial rock wall which lets clients build upper-body strength while practicing lines for their Cliffhanger: The Musical audition.
The certified trainers at Elite Fitness meet with guests to determine a personalized fitness routine that utilizes the number of gym equipment and the skills of the trainers. They lead guests through one-on-one training sessions or lead groups through body-sculpting and boot-camp fitness classes.
After attending boot camps for a while, Maizah's motivation fizzled and she dropped the course. But refusing to accept defeat? even if it weren't his own?The Boot Camp Guy's cofounder, Chris Brown, gave her a call and made a case. He showed her some before-and-after shots of people she'd met at the sessions before she left?and was astounded by their transformations.
"That could have been me," she kept thinking. So she headed back to class determined that this time, it would be. Months later, she'd gone from a size 16/18 down to a size 12 with extra energy to boot.
As a former Marine with 14 years of professional fitness experience and a passion for helping people reach their goals, Chris knows that boot camp isn't about the stereotypical screaming drill sergeants depicted on TV. Instead, he and his trainers employ a realistic, no-scales and no-diets philosophy and focus on supplying their students with the motivation they need. They identify each student's fitness level within moments and calibrate their workouts accordingly, pitching the signature boot-camp classes at beginner, intermediate, and expert levels. This approach seeks to get students to their own desired level of "skinny", whether that's a size two, size 14, or any other goal. The trainers further outfit their boot-camp base model with nine different tracks?with one designed to shed weight?and total-body sessions up the ante with weights, resistance bands, and mat exercises to strengthen entire physiques rather than honing in on left pinkies. They also encourage students to eat the food they enjoy, and to be mindful of which nutrients their body needs to address deficiencies and restore balance.
The fitness menu unfurls a feast of other group classes. Cycle circuits combine intensive spinning with ab work on the turf and toning dumbbell drills. Cardio-kickboxing classes blend aerobics, boxing, and martial arts. All told, they offer more than 100 classes each month from their well-stocked studio, which the staff stocks with free weights, strength-training machines, exercise balls, and resistance bands, as well as a recently added indoor obstacle course.
USA Karate Federation Hall of Fame honoree and four-time Panamerican Karate champion John Fonseca teams up with three-time world karate champion Elisa Au Fonseca and a cadre of talented instructors to lead their charges through martial-arts and fitness classes that strengthen minds and bodies. Though the martial-arts program mainly focuses on shotokan and shito-ryu karate, the sensei also offers aikido, judo, Gracie jujitsu, muay thai kickboxing, and wing tsun classes. Bushy-tailed neophytes start at the beginning, learning the basics of their chosen form, whereas advanced students delve into such mind-focused arenas as chi energy training and personally apologizing to every punching bag they have ever hurt.
Instructors also lead fitness-centered sessions that build muscle and burn calories. Cardio-kick classes merge elements of martial-arts, boxing, and aerobics to form an ever-changing cardiovascular workout infused with heart-pumping kicks and punches. Boot-camps delve athletes even deeper into whole-body fitness by challenging them to nonstop military-style drills for a full 45 minutes, or approximately the time it takes to jump rope through an entire episode of Magnum, P.I..