11 Chicago Gyms That Will Change The Way You Work Out

Photo: Courtesy of Flex Pilates Chicago.
The season of outdoor exercise is over. Goodbye, long runs along the lake. Farewell, vitamin D. But, what most wintertime hermits don’t know is that taking your exercise indoors doesn’t mean logging hours on the same, tired cardio machine or mindlessly sweating it out in a class.
These 11 Chicago gyms — boasting some of the country’s top trainers, most elegant studios, and outside-the-box training methods — will do more than revolutionize your winter workout. They’ll make you want to stay indoors even after spring arrives.
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Photo: Courtesy of Body R+D.
Body R+D
Don your grip socks and get ready to strike a pose on the fitness world’s famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Megaformer. A Pilates reformer on steroids, it's a platform attached to a variety of springs and cables that provide continuous resistance as you put yourself through a series of isolation and total-body moves. According to Body R+D, the method "isolates and attacks specific muscles until they can no longer move," burning between 500 to 700 calories during a single 50-minute class.

Body R+D, 2940 North Lincoln Avenue (between North Southport Avenue and West George Street); 773-935-3200.
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Photo: Courtesy of AIR.
A unique combination of resistance and suspension — achieved by hanging from the ceiling in gorgeous silk hammocks — lengthens and tones muscles while keeping you more than entertained. The classes, which blend the best of barre, yoga, and Pilates in one, tap muscles you didn’t even know you had. AIR currently has a River North and Lincoln Park location, with a Streeterville studio in the beginning stages.

AIR, multiple locations.
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Photo: Courtesy of Lateral Fitness.
Lateral Fitness
This Gold Coast boutique gym takes a scientific and systematic approach to fitness progressions. It offers personalized endurance training, yoga and kettlebell classes, massage, and acupuncture. It also has staff who specialize in Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT), which applies force to muscles to help reactivate them and ease muscular imbalances.

Lateral Fitness, 314 West Superior Street (near North Orleans Street); 312-291-9466.
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Photo: Courtesy of David Barton Gym.
David Barton Gym
This super-swanky gym, founded by the legendary David Barton, combines top-tier training and equipment in a luxurious space that'll make you want to hang out for hours on end. The 30,000-square-foot gym, on the edge of the Chicago River, boasts live sets by local DJs, saunas, steam rooms, and dozens of classes including Yoga for Jocks, Gravity Surfing, and Pressure Cooker.

David Barton Gym, 600 West Chicago Avenue (near North Larrabee Street); 312-836-9127.
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Photo: Courtesy of Shred415.
This high-intensity interval class combines the best of running and lifting into one 60-minute session. At the studio’s four city locations (more in the 'burbs), exercisers move between fast-paced treadmill and strength workouts, tackling free weights, medicine balls, resistance bands, weighted bars, and sand bells. High-energy, pump-it-up music and top-notch instructors (trained in sports medicine, rehabilitation, MMA, physical therapy, running biomechanics, and other disciplines) will lead the way.

Shred415, multiple locations.
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Photo: Courtesy of Flex Pilates Chicago.
Flex Pilates Chicago
With just nine top-of-the-line reformers, this studio provides your most personalized Pilates workout ever. Plus, by combining traditional Pilates moves with exercises from other fitness disciplines (including yoga, barre, and dance), instructors guide you through slow and continuous exercises that will work your entire body to exhaustion (in a good way!).

Flex Pilates Chicago, 213 West Institute Place (near North Franklin Street), #709; 312-587-9000.
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Photo: Courtesy of East Bank Club.
East Bank Club
This mini city of a gym (it spans a legit city block) has more cardio machines than you’ve ever seen in your life, jaw-dropping outdoor and indoor pools, a golf course, tennis, racquetball, squash courts, and more. Plus, while you’re sweating it out, you can get your car washed and your clothes dry-cleaned. Then, get a quick mani/pedi and blowout and meet your date in the club’s high-class restaurant.

East Bank Club, 500 North Kingsbury Street (near West Hubbard Street); 312-527-5800.
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Photo: Courtesy of Flywheel.
Flywheel Sports
Forget blindly turning your Spin bike’s resistance knob. This studio’s tech-heavy machines display your resistance level, speed, and your power output (both current and cumulative for the class), so you can push yourself as hard as you want. If you want to compete against others, log in to your class’s Torqboard — a large-screen leaderboard that shows how your performance stacks up against others’. Every ride’s stats are recorded, and you can track them online.

Flywheel Sports, multiple locations.
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Photo: Courtesy of Equinox.
This top international fitness brand is known for its classes, and come January 1, it will launch its newest body-changer: Elimin8tor. The intense, 45-minute sessions replace regular instruction with interactivity, in which participants select both moves to "eliminate" from the class's four rounds, and extra high-intensity ones to finish off each round. Check out Elimin8tor at any of the gym’s three city locations (plus one in Highland Park).

Equinox, multiple locations.
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Photo: Courtesy of Fitness Formula Clubs.
Fitness Formula Clubs
With all of the offerings of a big-box gym with the personal touches of a boutique, this Chicago-area brand’s eight urban locations (plus one out in Oak Park) meet all of your health and fitness needs. It offers everything from on-staff registered dietitians to boxing and martial arts lessons to a full-service spa. Bonus for aspiring triathletes: It’s one of only two USA Triathlon Certified Training Centers in the Midwest.

Fitness Formula Clubs, multiple locations.

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Photo: Courtesy of First Ascent Climbing & Fitness.
First Ascent Climbing & Fitness
Soon, you’ll be able to climb the flatlands of Chicago. Opening in late spring/early summer, this world-class climbing gym will feature not just 26,000 square feet of climbing and bouldering walls, but also yoga and fitness classes, personal training, and a hefty helping of fitness equipment, too. It's yet one more reason to look forward to spring.

First Ascent Climbing & Fitness, 3500 North Spaulding Avenue (off West Addison Street); no phone yet.