The beginning of summer is the perfect recipe to get in a workout rut — the weather is finally warm, we’re more likely to join in on an after-work happy hour, and a sweaty commute walk home makes a workout sound like the least appealing thing on the planet.
This year, I sought out to ditch my summer slump by achieving the impossible: finding a workout class that was effective and that I actually looked forward to going to. Could it be done? Is it actually possible to want to wake up early and go to a workout class? I wasn’t sure, but I was going to find out. I’ve always personally preferred someone telling me exactly what to do, rather than having a gym membership that’s a free-for-all (those machines can be scary). And hell, life is hard enough — I might as well find the workout class that makes me excited for it, rather than dreading it all day, right?
I signed up for ClassPass and utilized different studios’ free trials to work through the most popular workout classes to see which ones I enjoyed the most and would be the most effective for me. It was easier said than done — trying new classes can be absolutely terrifying — but after weeks of research, I was able to tell which ones I’d go to in the future, and which I’d skip out on.
Workouts are obviously very personal, and different exercises can help to achieve different fitness goals — and I personally was looking for something to supplement running and yoga to help me get more toned. I decided that if I found one that I loved, it would be worth it to sign up for an unlimited membership — and I found one that made me do just that.
Class length: 60 minutes
What you need: A yoga mat, water
Yoga is a relatively new phenomenon to me — in April, I committed myself to doing it in some capacity every single day for a month, and it definitely converted me into a lifelong yogi. However, I don’t like yoga to be my sole form of working out — I prefer incorporating strength training as well.
Enter: CorePower. When it comes to yoga studios, CorePower is my Everest. I’m still new to this, so the imposter syndrome is alive and well, and well, let’s just say most of the other people in class really knew what they were doing.
Unlike my local yoga studio, CorePower only offers four classes: Yoga 1, Yoga 2, Hot Power Fusion, and Sculpt — I tried all four.
Yoga 1: Yoga 1 was the perfect vinyasa yoga experience, and was the class I found myself looking forward to the most. It kept me moving and challenged throughout the entirety of class, without feeling like anything was too over my head. The instructors always adjusted me slightly, which I definitely feel helps my practice in the long run. If you’re new to yoga, this is the class for you.
Yoga 2: I was warned that Yoga 2 was close to hell, so I went in weary and absolutely dreading it, and was pleasantly surprised. While it was super challenging, I still felt like I could handle all of the poses. It was definitely an advanced class, but I would say that if you have some level of yoga experience, you can handle this.
Hot Power Fusion: My first class was Hot Power Fusion, and it was without a doubt a challenge. The room might as well have been the surface of the sun, and it almost scared me away. The instructor was super hands-on, which I appreciate, but it made me feel more visible than I would have preferred. There were poses that I can’t do yet (@ crow), but all in all, it was a perfect middle ground between vinyasa and sculpt yoga. It was a full-blown workout, but I felt stretched and grounded when I left.
Sculpt: I’m a huge fan of sculpt yoga, and was excited to compare CorePower’s class to my local studios. Sculpt is tough. It combines weights, some cardio, and yoga, all while in a heated room. This was my favorite of the four classes. It’s a killer workout that doesn’t require a ton of yoga knowledge, and made me feel like I got the best workout in after every class, regardless of which instructor I had.
After dabbling with all four of the classes CorePower offers, I can 100 percent see why people love it. It is an amazing workout, and the instructors helped me improve my practice altogether. I would keep going back specifically for the Yoga 1 and Sculpt classes, and would look to working my way up to doing Yoga 2 consistently.
However, I was very happy I had some form of a yoga practice under my belt before I walked through the doors, and wouldn’t have wanted CorePower to have been my introduction to yoga. You could definitely start Yoga 1 as a newbie, but I felt that knowing the basics and having some of my flexibility worked out helped me get through all of the classes — especially considering that I was surrounded by people literally standing on their heads.
Who should try it: Anyone who wants to get more out of their yoga practice
Class length: 60 minutes
What you need: Socks, water
Cycling was my jam in college — I went to at least one or two classes a week, and it always left me feeling exhausted in the way you want to feel after a good cardio workout.
I entered my first SoulCycle class with the cycle scene from I Feel Pretty at the front of my mind (Amy Schumer falling off her bike during an absolutely insane class, getting concussed, etc.). I more or less knew what I was in for.
My main thought about SoulCycle is that it was as much of an experience as a workout can be. During the class, I literally felt like I could conquer the world, and the feeling stuck with me throughout the rest of my day. The workout was tough, and is a great form of intense cardio for those who hate to run. It was absolutely as fun and exciting as a cycling class could ever be.
Who should try it: Anyone looking to make a cardio workout as much fun as possible
Class length: 60 minutes
What you need: Running shoes, water
Of all the classes I tried, this is the one I was the most terrified for. I felt like I was at the first day of kindergarten and needed my mom to physically force me through the doors — but here I am, alive to tell the tale.
This class is known for being the creme de la creme of workouts — when you’re burning up to 1,000 calories in 60 minutes, you know you’re in for some serious work (read: it’s going to quite literally be hell).
When I walked into the studio, which was dark (sans red lights shining throughout the room that reminded me just how terrified I was), it truly was like a horror movie — almost every single person looked like they could leave and do a full Iron Man tomorrow morning. They were not there to mess around.
The class alternates between cardio and weight training — to put it very, very mildly. The instructors guide you through an excruciating treadmill workout, and then a weight workout, both of which last around 10-15 minutes. You heart rate is elevated the entire time — there really is not as second of down time.
Barry’s was one of the hardest workouts that I’ve done in my adult life — it exists to get you fit, fast. While it was as hard as all hell, the atmosphere and music almost makes you forget you’re working out — almost. I loved the dark room, and realized very early on that nobody cares what anyone else in the room is doing. You’re there for you, and I appreciated not feeling as much like the fish out of water that I assumed I would. I’d go as far as saying this is the best workout you can get in a class atmosphere.
Who should try it: Anyone who’s looking to get fit as fast as possible
Class length: 30 minutes
What you need: Water
I tagged along to 9Round with my friend who absolutely swears by it. Off the bat, 9Round was different for a few reasons. First, there aren’t scheduled class times — a new circuit starts every three minutes, so you can show up whenever is best for you. (This made it super easy to find a time to go with my friend, something we normally can’t do with our busy schedules). Second, the class is only 30 minutes — the shortest of all the classes I tried. The workouts also change completely every day, so it isn’t repetitive.
I’ve never tried kickboxing in any form, so my entire experience was new to me. It was a high-intensity workout from the start, but flew by and left me dripping sweat and completely exhausted. I followed my friend’s lead, but instructors hopped in and helped me consistently. I loved that it was a little less structured than other classes, and that I had a little more freedom in what I was doing. It was a different form of cardio than anything I’ve ever done, and the ease and convenience of not needing to schedule a class time made it an A+ for me.
Who should try it: Anyone with a demanding schedule who prefers shorter, harder workouts
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Don't forget! We're giving away 2 free tickets to a Blackhawks game this week as we celebrate Spirit Week! And be sure to sign up for our Chicagoland #purebarrepopup class at the @nhlblackhawks convention this Saturday 7/27 at 8am! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Check out these 5 ways to earn an entry in the raffle now until 7/26 to win free tickets to a game. There’s no limit on the number of days you can participate or how many entries: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ -Be A Super Fan: Wear your Blackhawks clothing to class -Rock The Colors: Buy something red, white or black (excludes socks) -Tough Like Duncan Keith: Take two classes back to back (of two different class types) -Like Kane & Toews: Bring your bestie to the studio (must be a new client!)
Class length: 50 minutes
What you need: Socks (preferably sticky socks), water
Of all the classes I tried, Pure Barre was the one I was the least familiar with. My college roommate was absolutely obsessed with it and raved about it constantly, but besides that, I honestly didn’t know much about it, and I definitely didn’t know how it could be an effective workout.
My first class at Pure Barre couldn’t have been more pleasant. The girl working at the front desk walked into the studio with me and showed me what equipment to pick up, and the instructor came and introduced herself to me right away. From the beginning, the class was easy to follow, but was absolutely killer — like, “two minutes in my abs were already shaking” killer. The class is divided up into targeting different muscle groups, and after every section, my muscles were left exhausted and shaking, but without my body being physically in pain from super intense jumping or running. The 50 minutes flew by quicker than any of the other classes — before I knew it, I was headed out the door, walking my shaky legs up my apartment stairs.
My first class literally left me sore in places that I have never been sore before. This class works everything, and left me wanting to go back immediately. After a few classes, I knew I had found what I was personally looking for: a class to supplement running and yoga that would help me gain muscle and get toned. After experimenting for a few weeks, I bit the bullet and signed up for a monthly pass. I have literally already noticed more muscle definition in my core and legs, and can’t wait to see where going more frequently takes me.
Who should try it: Anyone looking for a workout to get them toned