Inside a series of plain-white, windowed studios, empty except for futons and pillows, the professional therapists at Zen Shiatsu Chicago heal bodies with techniques rooted in millennia-old traditions. At the same time, they pass those techniques on to students in the zen-shiatsu certification school that shares space with the clinic. Teachers and students perform shiatsu therapy, using both hands to manipulate muscles and unblock clients’ energy pathways. They also administer contemporary Western massages to ease tense muscles, whereas acupuncture treatments let out bodies’ excess helium.
In addition to awarding certifications and leading continuing education in massage, naprapathy, physical therapy, and acupuncture, instructors train students outside the classroom through social outreach, exposure to integrative medicine, and visits to local hospitals’ neck-cramp wards.
Lisa Faremouth Weber, the founder and owner of Heaven Meets Earth, wanted her studio to be a sacred space where students could come for a regular yoga practice and leave refreshed. That's why her commitment to student health reaches beyond the classes and into the very nontoxic paint that coats the studio's walls. Heaven Meets Earth is one of Evanston's only green yoga studios, featuring sustainable bamboo floors, an eco-boutique, and paper products made out of still-living trees.
Certified instructors lead the studio's workshops, teacher-training, meditation classes. They teach students to control their breath and build strength during Sacred Vinyasa classes, and also branch out into Pilates and dance-fitness classes. Teen, child, and family classes instill a sense of peace and focus in the light-filled studio, which features a wall of inspirational quotes.
"Life takes life out of you. Yoga puts it back." Amy Treciokas, founder of Yoga Now, lives by these words. In high school, Treciokas—already a fledgling yoga practitioner—was drawn to the savasana relaxation pose because it "was a great time for a nap." After being reintroduced to yoga as an adult, she truly fell in love. A consuming passion for the energizing and stress-relieving practice of yoga led her to spend three years in India to learn at the feet of yogis in Mysore, an intensive period of study that helped her to obtain authorization to teach Ashtanga yoga. Not long after she was authorized, Treciokas founded Yoga Now.
Yoga Now's studio evidences a commitment to sustainable-living practices, including bamboo flooring, eco-friendly insulation, and energy-efficient lighting powered by giant hamster wheels. Students practice yoga on rubber mats and sustainable cork blocks, or they relax their muscles by lounging in the complimentary sauna and steam room or indulging in one of nine massage modalities that are available seven days a week. An extensive team of teachers and healers helps to fill out a class schedule that spans from early morning to night.
Northshore Fitness Studio's muscle mavens motivate visitors of all ages, athletic rankings, and body types during personal training sessions and a group fitness classes. Welcoming weekend warriors and weekday peacekeepers alike, trainers lead Pilates Mat sessions, indoor cardio rowing, and low-impact Body Sculpt workouts. Visitors can schedule class-times in advance or simply drop in and tone up.
Bikram yoga consists of 26 poses and two breathing exercises that center, strengthen, and lengthen every muscle with the muscle-melting powers of a 100-plus-degree room. The trained instructors at this Andersonville studio, including owner Jessica Rask, are ready and willing to guide both newcomers as stiff as stale graham crackers and yoga veterans as malleable as a handful of Gak through the exercise routine. Be prepared to sweat profusely, dumping both calories and toxins in the process. As the high temperatures seep into your muscles and ligaments, you'll warm like candle wax in a car engine, stretching and flexing accordingly. Afterward, you'll leave focused, with a cleansed, centered, and worry-free glow. A flexible schedule makes taking numerous classes achievable for busy bees, swamped swans, and Brian Dennehy alike.
Pilates is an excellent way to kick-start a fitness routine. The challenging movements and full-body stretching are designed to increase core strength and stamina. For your two private sessions, you’ll receive guidance from FTC-certified instructor Patrick O'Brien, who will help you transition from a stale, store-bought pretzel to a soft, fresh-baked German pretzel. Work out on both the Pilates equipment and floor mat under his supervision. He will help you correct body issues from technique to alignment and tailor the lessons to your specific physical needs. FTC is one of Chicago’s longest-standing Pilates studios, having opened in 1994. Its focus is on the human form and on making sure it operates naturally and healthfully, in line with its proper structure and function. Call to schedule your sessions.