Whew, time flies! It feels like I was trying out my first month of Classpass just a few weeks ago…even though that was June! After a few months of experimentation, I had been spending basically all of my classes on AIR (aerial silks), Studio Three (cycling/spin), and Reform Pilates (pilates, duh :)). I even just kept going to the same teachers week after week!

With the start of 2018 coming up, I knew I wanted to switch a few more things up and try more studios around work. A friend encouraged me to try her cycling studio, CycleX in West Loop, and I found a new favorite teacher: Melissa! Her playlist was great, and I ended up taking her Britney Spears theme ride shortly after!

I’ve tried a few more studios since then, with varying levels of success. Pilates seems to be very hit or miss for me depending on the instructor. I liked Studio Lagree’s non-core approach to pilates, but wasn’t a huge fan of the uber-minimalistic instruction at a few other studios. (I think it’s kind of odd if a pilates session doesn’t include any mention of breathing, which happened to me at 2 different studios this week!)

Today, I tried out the S.W.A.T. class at Energi Fitness. I walked in and was intimidated by the Cross-fit style countdown clock. All I could think is: What have I gotten myself into?! Luckily, the instructor, Mary was super helpful in pointing out my form errors and helping me understand each exercise.

Each S.W.A.T. class has a mix of different equipment, so I had no idea what we would be working on. I was super thrilled to finally use battle ropes!!! It was a crazy moment for me as I always imagined battle ropes as reserved for Shape or Women’s Health fitness photography…it is nuts to believe how far I’ve come that I’m EXCITED to use battle ropes!!!

There’s also a ton of other cool equipment at Energi like monkey bars, skiing machines, and rowing machines. I will definitely be back to check out other classes they have!

What I’ve been realizing is that it is SO important to keep experimenting if there’s an option! It’s like makeup – you want to keep things fresh and still keep an eye out for what’s new! Plus, if everything is terrible, you will appreciate your tried and true classes/instructors even more!

Here’s some tips I have for trying out a new studio:

  1. Read reviews online on Yelp and ask friends. Keep in mind that one person’s “challenging and motivating” can mean your “personal torture/hell chamber”, but a 4.5 star studio will generally be cleaner/safer/better than one with 3 stars. When I am first looking at the studio, I search “favorite” on the Yelp reviews to find either the best instructor or teacher at a time that works for me. Why waste time with the worst teacher at a studio you haven’t been to yet?!
  2. Actually show up 15 minutes early. It’s so tempting to just show up 5 minutes before and sign the waiver in 10 seconds. Those 15 minutes though can be so helpful in assessing the “vibe” of the studio long-term as well as acclimate to the special equipment used in the class.
  3. Tell the teacher it’s your first time. I have no shame and will admit my lack of experience in a certain exercise pretty readily. Yes, I know you are rolling your eyes at how uncool it is to be a fitness newb…but think of the benefits! The teacher will be looking out for you in the exercise, helping you with form more than they normally would in a group class. I did my first kettlebell swing correctly because I told the teacher I was new and had never really gotten great form on it.
  4. Give it your all – but don’t worry if you’re not up to par just yet. I was legit frightened to go to Barry’s Bootcamp, as I hate running (fun runs/silly 5ks don’t count). Everyone’s advice for my first time was not to go crazy trying to keep up with the class, but take things at my own speed/pace/level. What’s the point of killing yourself in one class if you then won’t go back for a month?
  5. Give it a shot with another instructor. If you liked the studio “vibe”, equipment, and general style, but not the instructor, give it another chance at a different time! I really like the silly fun of Bobby’s workouts on Wednesdays at 7:30, which is completely different from the hardcore spinning enthusiasts awake at 9 am on a Sunday morning (ex. not into the silly or the Britney).

Hope this helps!