Motivating, highly trained staff and spacious facilities complement Charter Fitness's battalion of cardio machines and strength-training equipment. Huge flat-screen TVs motivate gym-goers as they lift weights, stationary bikes, and their reflections in large mirrors. Seasoned personal trainers who all hold certifications or four-year degrees in their specialty guide members through an initial personal-training session, introducing clients to the best equipment for their fitness goals. After workouts, private showers or public water fountains sluice away sweat.
Anytime Fitness, which boasts 1,689 clubs in North America, makes it easier for average folks to etch out time for exercise by doing one simple thing: staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. As fitness seekers challenge themselves on cardio and Hammer Strength machines and hoist Iron Grip free weights in clean, well-stocked facilities, security monitoring ensures they’re safe and producing enough sweat to meet official government standards. Members can also ramp up their exercise regimens with the help of Anytime Fitness’s staff of personal trainers, who demonstrate moves and sling motivating tips. After workouts, guests can shower in the private restrooms or hop into one of the tanning booths available 24 hours a day.
The certified Bikram yoga instructors at 26hot draw students from all over the western suburbs to their facility, conveniently located near the Roosevelt Road exit of I-355. Within the 1,800-square-foot space, which is kept at 105 degrees and 40% humidity, yogis move through 26 postures designed to build muscle and cardiovascular health. The one-legged balancing stick pose, for example, puts bodies into a T formation, and the tree pose encourages birds to alight on squared shoulders.
The studio's reception area appropriately greets students with fiery-red couches and warm-yellow walls. At the desk, students can rent yoga mats and towels or purchase beverages such as chilled coconut water.
"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee. "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere."
To make this challenging, yet hopeful, philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. This focus, shared by Body & Brain Holistic Yoga and The Life Yoga, forms the basis of the studio's classes and consultations. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cooldown exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance.
With more than 20,000 square feet of aerobic acreage, HealthTrack offers members a premier health-club experience. Begin the tour de fitness with a one-hour massage at the day spa (a $75 value), where a therapist will knead away knots and limber up muscles in preparation for an intense one-hour personal-training session (a $55 value). After equipping amateur exercisers with fit-focused survival skills, the trainer will free pupils into the vast expanse of workout options available to members. This Groupon entitles you to 14 days of membership after activation (a $90 value). HealthTrack offers top-tier equipment and more than 75 group classes each week, including cardio boxing, Pilates, spin, step, and competitive channel changing. Check the class schedule, or choose from a plethora of other sweat-breaking activities, such as basketball, swimming, tennis, running on the indoor track, or extreme relaxation in the gym's jacuzzi or sauna.
My Gym Children's Fitness Center, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 30 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level—starting as young as 6 months—and designed to incorporate the latest physiological and psychological research. Tiny Tykes gets babies moving with help from their parents, Mighty Mites teaches toddlers self-reliance and beginning sports skills, and Champions, a class for kids aged 6–8, emphasizes the importance of using teamwork to master more complex sports skills and achieve group goals such as building a human pyramid to reach the cookie jar. My Gym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while stimulating their giggle-plexes. The noncompetitive environment fosters creativity and hands-on activities boost children's learning retention and fun quotient.