Eastside Wellness Connections’ studios offer a range of core-strengthening workouts. Stationary bikes form rows inside one room for spinning classes led by a certified instructor. Laminate floors provide the stomping grounds for yoga classes, where students on mats bend, twist, and somersault their way into a series of poses. And Pilates students use mats and reformer machines to build long, lean muscles.
Though its name may conjure fantasies about sprinting down crowded streets or bench-pressing buses stalled in traffic, Urban Active Fitness grants its members abundant space in which to spread out and follow their workout proclivities. At dozens of locations across the Midwest and South, members can sculpt their bodies in whichever manner they choose—from personal training with resistance machines and free weights to group classes in cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. A number of group classes draw on the gym’s urban theme for inspiration. Urban Iron, for example, focuses on building muscles that resemble the cast-iron beams of skyscrapers, and Urban Yoga closely imitates the poses necessary to squeeze onto a subway train at rush hour.
Women’s workout routines take flight at Femme Fatale Fitness. Students perform controlled maneuvers, dangling from aerial silks or learning aerial hooping and impressive tricks on a static trapeze as instructors teach circus-inspired classes that gently tone muscles and boost flexibility. Alternatively, guests amp up core strength in pole-fitness classes that show ladies how to perform airborne routines with sassy twists and spins around chrome poles. All of Femme Fatale Fitness’s classes, which also include cardio kickboxing, burlesque, and chair dancing, aim to help women feel more confident in their bodies, resulting in higher self-esteem without having to invest in costly magic mirrors.
The gym can be an intimidating place for unexperienced exercisers, which is why Better Bodies introduced its Healthy Start training program. During the initial session, the staff uses a computer program called the Virtual Fitness Planner to reveal basic biometrics and calculate the likelihood of health risks such as type-2 diabetes. Once you're informed, you can take action by signing up for a personal-training session, attending a group-fitness class, or lifting on the fitness floor's Hammer Strength machines. For busy parents or particularly ripped nannies, Better Bodies also provides complimentary childcare services for members.
If variety can spice up life in general, Inhale Exhale Studio's owner Hao Ly figures it's also a great way to keep exercising interesting. She, and her 20-plus teachers, leads a regimen of more than 50 group fitness classes held across all seven days of the week. Students might show up on Sunday and shape glutes in a barre-based fitness class or drop in on Monday to sweat during warm Vinyasa flow yoga lead by Hao herself. Other days feature similar options, as well as multiple forms of Pilates, boot camps, and even the occasional spinning class. To help fend off soreness and aches, Hao says the studio offers Thai bodywork, an assisted form of stretching with many similarities to yoga.
Equipment: Pilates Reformer apparatus, RealRyder bikes
Students should bring: hot yoga towel, bottle of water, yoga mat, spin shoes, hand towel
Average class length: 60-90 minutes
Number of Staff: 11–25
Class location: Indoors only
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Fitworks is home to a dedicated cadre of certified muscle architects who guide eager physiques through intense, small group workouts. Peruse the schedule before sampling a tension-undoing yoga class or a weekend-morning muscle-pump session, ideal for prepping for an underwater bench-press that will determine the office's next round of promotions. One-hour Zumba classes harness the rhythmic power of merengue, conga, belly dancing, and more to kill calories while resuscitating sleepy toes. After classes, students can freshen up or flex unused singing muscles in Fitworks' shower facilities.