Hardpressed

How many of us find it difficult to find an hour for the gym? I know I struggle with finding the time between work, social events, and running errands. Well, get ready for this, because I have found Chicago’s best kept fitness secret; a studio that offers a full body, high-intensity interval training workout in just 30 minutes. 30 MINUTES! This fantasy studio is called Hardpressed, located on Michigan and Wacker in Chicago.

The gym is setup station style with a tabata workout at e Continue reading

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3 Healthiest Places to Grub ‘on the go’

If your anything like me, you rarley think ahead, nonetheless have time to ‘meal prep’. I’m lucky to even get to work on time these days, forget making anything healthy for lunch in the morning (I would actually LOL if that ever happened). But each day, 11:45 rolls around, and I start thinking about the best place to grab food that is good, filling, and most importantly, healthy.

Below are my top 3 healthy ‘go-to’s’ when I want to save my waistline from the typical fast food:

Aloha Poke Co

Poke bowls are all the rage these days, but what exactly is ‘Poke’?

Poke is a Hawaiian cuisine, which is essentially a sliced raw fish salad. ‘Poke’ in Hawaiian means “to section” or “to slice or cut”. The Aloha Poke Co took ‘Poke’ to a whole new level and brought along some good intentions and feelings with it (Aloha is a catch-all word of good intentions and feelings, see what I did there?).

This Chicago based company started with a small food cart in the local train stations ‘French Market’ and has since grown from coast to coast. Who wouldn’t want a little bit of Hawaii on their lunch hour?

Here’s how it works: Choose a base (mixed greens or brown/white rice), choose a ‘Poke’ (Tuna, Salmon, or Tofu), dress it up with a marinade or leave it naked, add fresh, healthy ingredients, and top if off with your sauce of choice. Too many options? Choose a pre-built option, conjured up by the pros!

This is the prefect lunch option for those of us who are on the go looking for something fresh, healthy, and easy. There are also gluten free / vegan options, something for all of us! Look out for one in your neighborhood.

Mahalo

Sweet Green

This yummy establishment was started in 2007 and has a spot in most metropolitan cities. When you walk into a Sweet Green there is most definitely a line, but don’t worry, there is a well-oiled assembly line of salad makers so you won’t wait too long!

It is probably the best place in town for those of us on the go to grab a healthy salad and the best part is you can have it any way you want it. The options are endless with multiple base options and tons of ingredients and dressings.  I dare you not find something that won’t tickle your palate.

I’ve listed a few genres for good measure: Choose from delicious seasonal fare, to some ‘warm bowl’ options if you need a little warmth to sooth your soul (which those of us in Chicago need in this faux spring weather), or a nice cool crunchy salad. I haven’t done the math, but I think there are enough permutations to keep you trying a new salad every day for a year!

Graze

I always hear about this ‘super food’ called Acai. Acai is a fruit that comes from a native tree in Brazil that is most closely related to a palm tree. These berries are packed with antioxidants, fiber, heart healthy fats, and are high in calcium. Well, with all those health benefits packed in 1 little berry I had to try it for myself, but where to find such a berry in lunch form?

Graze is a small smoothie shop that has 2 locations in Chicago, the Loop and River North. They are most well known for their Acai-bowls. They have 5 different types and each is better than the next. This is the perfect lunch option for the health conscious on the go. All ingredients are vegan and gluten-free.

Any of the 5 acai options are topped with ingredients that range from almond butter, to hemp seed, to agave. They might leave your mouth a little blue, but that just spices up your afternoon meeting, am I right? Graze also has a list of heart healthy smoothies that are made-to-order, stop by the River North or Loop location to grab your bowl or smoothie during your next lunch break!

 

Vie Active

I recently came across a new legging brand while surfing the internet for some fun new workout gear. I’ve been in a rut about working out so I figured some new threads would change that.

After looking through all the usual sites, I came across VieActiveWear.com. Not only did they have the new fresh patterns I’ve been craving for, but the story of how Vie Active came to be was really interesting.

The idea for the brand was born in Bondi Beach, Australia by founder Noa Ries. After suddenly losing her father, working out became her therapy and ultimately her career as a personal trainer. Because of her career choice she found she was living in leggings, unstylish ones at that – which didn’t fly with her. To make a long story short she created Vie Active with a mission to fuse performance and style.

Performance and Style – I can totally relate. I added them to my shopping cart.

I was a bit concerned about purchasing the leggings because they are a bit pricey and you never really know what you’re going to get from a random active wear site that you don’t know much about – but I before I knew it I had entered my Credit Card info and hit submit.

I received them in the mail a few days later and I was SO impressed. They were really nicely packaged in individual zippy bags and the material felt legit. I put them in my bag to wear to class the next day.

After taking class in these leggings, the ultimate test, I can proudly declare I will be ordering from here again. Not to mention their customer service is out of this world. If you have a problem, they will email you back immediately and it’s not just some automated response.

I’ll be back Vie Active! Thank you and keep making more stylish leggings for me!

Pictured below the Whitney 7/8 Legging in Bronze Leopard – run true to size

Vie 1

I thought the seam on the tush was pretty cute too…

Vie 2

Sweaty Reviews

 

CrossTown Fitness Roscoe Village

Over my ‘winter break’ I had the opportunity to attend the brand new location of CrossTown Fitness (located in Roscoe Village). The studio is conveniently located right under the Paulina Brown line stop, so it’s super easy to get to!

The studio has the coolest amenities:

  • Cryo machine (see Cryo blog here)
  • Leg compression boots (I tried them and they are awesome! They are basically just a boot that applies pressure to your legs to massage lactic acid build up. This helps for a quicker recovery. More info here).
  • Water fountain spouts that looks like beer on tap!

I had the opportunity to take one of their strength classes with trainer Stacy.

The class consisted of 5 stations of tabatas, 45 seconds on 15 seconds off. Each station has 2 movement that we completed 3 times each. Stacy really pushed us to use all of the different equipment in the gym:

  • Kettlebells
  • Medicine balls
  • TRX
  • Dumbbells

We ended class with a series of burpees, always a killer! The class was 55 minutes, but it seriously flew buy.

This class is perfect for those that prefer a low impact workout, so if you are looking for cardio this isn’t the class for you. The level of difficulty could be increased with an increased amount of weight or pushing yourself to do AMRAP (as many reps as possible) in the time allotted.

Stacy was great at walking around the room to ensure proper form, which I always appreciate. I wouldn’t recommend this class to gym newbies as there really isn’t time to explain the movements or form, so I definitely think a newbie can easily injure themselves. 

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CrossTown Fitness Roscoe Village is located at: 3406 Lincoln Ave.

Try 2 weeks unlimited for $60! Link for more price options!

CycleBar Fulton Market / West Loop

I love when our readers email in a blog post on a new studio they love! This one comes with some awesome deals too! Thanks Meredith Yorchak for your tip on this hot new spot!

CycleBar is a cycling studio with locations popping up all over the US. My favorite aspect of CycleBar is the stats they offer. Each bike comes with a dashboard that shows what gear you are on, your RPM and power.  “CycleStats measure the six key metrics of your daily and historical performance—and emails you the result after every ride to help you track the progress of your fitness journey.”

CycleBar is a bit more affordable than other cycling studios by offering memberships and free shoes and water. The most recent Chicago location is in Fulton Market/West Loop. Not only is the location and schedule super convenient, but they are some awesome deals going on:

Overall, the amenities, bikes, instructors and music are top notch.  I would definitely recommend CycleBar and it’s good for any fitness level!

cycle bar

Photo from Groupon.com

Spin & Yoga All-In-One!

Last week I attended a Studio Spin class for the first time, I’ve gone to many spin classes before, but not like this one!

The class consisted of 45 minutes of Spin (with Julie) and 30 minutes of Yoga (with Abby). Two classes, for the price of one! Not only were both classes amazing, but the instructors have the best energy!

This class is located in Northfield (right before the Willow Rd highway entrance), so I was bit a worried that due to the age group being slightly ‘less young’ in the suburbs than a city class, that the intensity wouldn’t be there. Although there was a mix of different age groups in the class,  Julie didn’t slow down for anyone! She also mixed up the music to appeal to all of us, which I always appreciate.

Julie was very clear with instructing us on what we should be doing at any particular moment, which really helps me from just riding like a crazy person! The more verbal my teacher is on what we should be doing the better! I also loved that  if your form wasn’t right, Julie would hop off her bike and help you get into the proper position. Another huge A+, so many teachers forget how important form is!

Julie’s class was a classic HIIT class (high intensity interval training). There would be periods of intense energy, followed by periods of rest. I can never keep up with instructors who don’t let your heart rate slow down at one point or another!

After spinning I took Yoga with Abby – it was the perfect complement to cycling. After putting so much stress on my body it was nice to take some time to wind myself down, quiet my mind, and stretch out! Abby was super sweet and did a great job guiding the class through various poses/stretches. She was very attentive and walked around the room – physically helping you to have proper form.

By the end of class I was definitely relaxed, refreshed, and ready to take on the rest of my day! I highly recommend anyone who is looking for a cycle/yoga combo to attend this class!

Find a Dope DJ and Keep Coming Back

I ask people all the time what their favorite fitness studio is or their favorite class and I always get the same responses.

‘You have to go to Barry’s it’s insane’ or ‘I live for Soul Cycle’. Those statements make me cringe because it sounds like they are being more of a ‘brand whore’ than really understanding what makes a class awesome.

Let’s be real, Soul Cycle is spinning on a stationary bike, just like Flywheel, or Peloton and Barry’s is just a treadmill and some weights just like Shred & Torch. What REALLY makes those classes great, is the instructor leading you through the class.

It isn’t the brand name, fancy smoothies, nice showers, or brand new equipment that get the job done (although those things don’t hurt) it is the energy and motivation that comes from the instructor, or as I like to call them, the DJ’s of class.

MORAL of the story: Don’t focus on finding a studio you love, focus on finding a ‘DJ’ that you love and build a rapport with them. Ultimately that relationship will keep bringing you back to class, encouraging you to push harder every time, and most importantly make class more exciting and fun. 

Sweat for thought.

xx

SweatyReviews

Hi-Def with Elli Gotlieb

eli 2Whenever I will try a new workout class, I’ll usually try it once or twice and then decide if the class is worth it to me. A few things that make it ‘worth it’ are:

  • The teachers energy and motivation
  • The actual makeup of the class, tempo, level of difficulty, etc.
  • The music

One class that keeps me coming back every week, and sometimes twice a week, is Elie’s Gotlieb’s HI DEF class at Studio 3 on Clark St.

Not only do I want to look like Elli (she has rocking bod), but her personality and group facilitation skills are out of this world. Her classes work you to the MAX, she plays awesome music that I end up downloading and ask my Uber driver to play, and she never skips a beat in the routine to keep you working hard. The time passes in a flash.

Her Thursday PM and Saturday AM classes are my favorite, one preparing me for the weekend and the other detoxing the tequila shots from Friday night.

So what is it exactly that makes Elli’s HI DEF class at Studio 3 so great?

  • Whether it is your first or 100th class, it never gets easy and it’s never the same
  • Her energy, I swear she works as hard as us facilitating the class
  • The class is heated, but not unbearable (and she knows when to open the door to let a cool breeze in!)
  • There are different options for band strength and the ability to grab different size weights (this helps you challenge yourself week over week)
  • The grand finale of each class is a partner challenge with a fellow HI DEFFER or we have a friendly competition by row that puts a smile on your face, followed up high fives and fist pumps.
  • Elli always encourages a moment of relaxation and stretching before class is over
  • I’m ALWAYS sore the next day, but ALWAYS want to come back for more

So, if you are ever in the neighborhood and want to try something new and exciting that will leave you feeling like you accomplished, lean and ready to take on the world, take a HI DEF class at Studio 3.

I promise you won’t be sorry!

#SweatyReviews

eli

The Expense of that Beach Bod

Belonging to a gym is pretty inexpensive; some are as low as $40 a month. The only problem is you get what you pay for…

A large gym, with a bunch of machines, and zero direction. If you don’t go in there with your own plan and self-motivation to ‘get it done’ you most likely will walk on the treadmill for 30 mins and do some abs before grabbing a $9 smoothie on the way out (that definitely has more calories than what you burned).

So what is the alternative? Answer: Boutique fitness studios. AKA being trapped in a room for 45 mins to an hour with an instructor (y)telling you want to do and motivating you to do it!

Hm, there must be a catch! Well there is…

The catch is pretty big, classes run anywhere from 25 – 35 dollars EACH! Do the math on this one – If you want to work out say 4 times a week, that is at a minimum $400 dollars a month and as much as $560! So you just went from spending $40 to $560 a month! On top of that, there are all these other ‘hidden’ charges:

  • Mat fee
  • Towel fee
  • Late Cancel Fee
  • No Show Fee

You could end up spending close to $700 a month on working out. So how do we get the benefits of the boutique fitness world, while not spending our rent money? Here are a few ways:

  • Buy a class package (you’ll end up saving a few bucks a class)
  • Buy an unlimited package if the gym offers it (you could spend as little as $9 a class if you go enough times a week)
  • Always bring your own mat and towel if the studio doesn’t provide
  • Always remember to bring your own water bottle
  • Work at the front desk a few days a week, you only need to put in a few hours and you will get heavily discounted classes (if not free)
  • If you might not be able to make a class, cancel it before the 12 hour window (you can always rebook)
  • If you miss a class, for whatever reason, try to send an email explaining what happened – sometimes gyms accommodate (and you save $25)

Some people may be turned off by the fact that fee’s are charged for cancelled classes, but I have to say it keeps me from exiting stage left last minute. These classes hold me accountable!

Not only is it not easy to get that beach bod, but it also isn’t easy to fund it. Hopefully you can find your happy medium!

#SweatyReviews

Silent Killer

If you’re anything like me you think you need to leave a workout class drenched in sweat to know you ‘killed it’. I used to think Barre and Pilates classes were ‘easy’ and a ‘waste of time’. I needed to row 1000 meters, run uphill on an incline of 15, and slam a 25 lb slam ball to get a workout in that felt worth it.

Wellll, let me tell you, as of this past week I think I may just change my weekly workout schedule to mostly include Barre and Pilates classes.

Pure Barre

My friend from college, Lindsay Wolf, just opened a Pure Barre studio in the Loop about a month ago and I couldn’t wait to check it out. How cool, I have a friend that is a legit business owner at the age of 29. So so cool!

I was lucky enough to have Lindsay as my instructor for my first class, she was super peppy and kept the class going (no break for 55 minutes!). She also did a great job at correcting form, which I definitely needed (I’m new to the ‘tuck’).

The class is basically made up of low-impact, small, isometric movements that fatigue your muscles. The studio has all the equipment you will need, a ball, a band, weights, and a mat. I do suggest you wear leggings (not shorts) and purchase a pair of their ‘sticky’ socks (so you don’t slip!).

Each 55 minute class begins with a warm-up in the center of the room and then a toning section with weights. The weights are between 2-5lbs, but trust me that is all you need.

Next up is some barre work, here you will fatigue your thighs and your booty – this is also where you will utilize the ‘tuck’. For more deets on the tuck’ read this Blog on the Pure Barre website! I suggest you take the tuck workshop that is offered so you don’t go into the class totally lost on this one, I promise it will be worth it.

After the booty work, you’ll do a series of ab exercises on the floor (think planks, leg lifts, and sit-ups). Lastly, the class ends with a cool down and stretching.

I left shaking and craving more. There is no way you can’t go to this class everyday and not eventually have a 6 pack.

Checkout Pure Barre South Loop, first week is free!

 

Lagree

Lagree is a pilates class on a Reformer machine. The Reformer machine looks like a scary contraption that was used to punish people back in the 1800’s. Well, it is still punishing people, but in the best way.

I attended Katie Sido’s class during my lunch hour. I have so many awesome things to say about this class, so let me use bullet points:

  • Face paced, I was never bored and class flew
  • Awesome transitions, we always knew what was coming next so I didn’t miss a beat
  • Low Impact, safe on your joints
  • Challenging, some of the moves I had to give up on because I literally couldn’t hold pulse anymore
  • After class burn, I have never felt so sore

It is said that this class meets all elements of physical Fitness, which is defined by the following five basic foundations:

  1. Cardiorespiratory Endurance
  2. Muscular Strength
  3. Muscular Endurance
  4. Body Composition
  5. Flexibility

This is the type of class that you just want to master, which will keep you coming back for more. It is a bit pricey at $35 dollars a class, so I would recommend buying a package! See rates below.

Group Classes

Initial Class $15
New Client 10 Pack**(Expires 6 months from purchase date)

(Non-transferable or shareable)

$180 ($18/class)
Single Class $35
5 Classes $160 ($32/class)
10 Classes $290 ($29/class)
20 Classes $480 ($24/class)

Overall…

The best thing about both these workouts is that they are super challenging, but you can go during lunch and head back to work! No shower needed (encouraged, but not needed). Also, there are multiple locations, so no excuse to not attend!

Get after it,

Sweaty Reviews