Sprinkled across Chicago from Evanston to the West Loop, the Chicago Athletic Clubs set a modern and user-friendly gym experience in urbane neighborhood settings. The various facilities are equipped with all the required equipment for losing weight, putting on muscle, or building flexibility on cardio equipment, weight machines, and free weights. Group fitness classes such as yoga, spinning, and Zumba fill the schedule, and the several locations with indoor pools host water aerobics and family swim classes. The personal-training staff can also help tailor workouts based on your particular goals and share encouragement with you as you transform from chrysalis to Dwayne Johnson. In addition to the exercise areas, the gyms also sport such amenities as kids' clubs and sauna and steam rooms. Three locations even offer indoor rock-climbing facilities. As beginners and experienced climbers traverse craggy surfaces while protected from the elements, additional challenges crop up on the gym's endurance routes and in the bouldering cave where climbers defy gravity without being strapped in by ropes.
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.
The caring staff at the YMCA of Rock River Valley fosters healthy habits with personalized fitness programs, family-centric recreation, and more than 50 group exercise classes at both Rockford-area locations. Equipment orientation helps new members feel at home by helping them set workout goals and meet other members with similar goals. After teaming with a certified coach to build a full-fledged fitness plan, guests may follow up with an electronic advisor that suggests changes to the plan based on input from the Y’s human fitness experts. Unlimited access to group classes such as yoga and pool-based aqua Pilates challenges muscles under water. Zumba’s Latin-inspired dance moves get heart rates delightfully elevated, and cardio madness continues the trend with weighted bars and free weights. The Y also sets aside time for families to connect over basketball, movie showing in the pool, or competing in an inflatable obstacle course
In addition to showering members with classes and coaching, the Y bathes them in discounts when they sign up for specialized classes such as triathlon training. Complimentary childcare allows parents to focus their mental energy on physical feats, and a handful of free guest passes lets members show their friends where they climb the climbing wall.
Darkhouse Entertainment's Murder Mansion, one of the largest haunted houses in the suburban Chicagoland area, scares visitors witless in "Blood Feast," an unsettling tale of cannibalism set in the Victorian era. After skipping the line with their R.I.P. passes, thrill seekers form bonds with other guests during fear-induced embraces as they find their way through the mansion's darkness, fog, strobe lights, banjo duels, and professional special effects to discover where the show's turn-of-the-century restaurant gets its supply of human flesh. The convincing costumes, makeup, imaginative lighting, elaborate sets, blood, and gore create intensely real scenes of violence designed for mature audiences. Hydrophobes and wicked witches may wish to wear raincoats, as the show promises wet surprises. Consult a list of frequently screamed questions to prepare for the bloodbath.
Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
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.