Free + Cheap First Visit Fitness Classes - Chicago

One of my favorite aspects about living in Chicago is the access there is to a huge variety of fitness studios and classes. I absolutely love trying out new studios and finding workouts and instructors I love. But it can get expensive.

Read More

Free + Cheap First Visit Fitness Classes - Chicago Suburbs

I've branched out from one of my most popular posts (Free + Cheap First Visit Fitness Classes in Chicago) and created a guide for those of you that live or work or work out in the Chicago Suburbs too! SO many of you asked and I finally finished compiling my list!

Read More

My Month at Bar Method

I go through super obsessive phases with workouts. When I first started running, it's all I did and I did it ALL the time. I'm talking 6-7 days a week, sometimes twice a day. After my knee got too weak for me to run anymore, I switched that obsession over to HIIT workouts to help strengthen my muscles, knee included. Over the past several months, I've started to reevaluate what my fitness goals are. Am I looking for weight loss? Do I want to run long distance again? Will I ever be able to do a pull-up and do I even want to?

Read More

Barry's Bootcamp with Melanie of Get Real With Mel

Ever since they opened a Barry's Bootcamp here in Chicago, the fitness community has been obsessed. It reminds me of when SoulCycle opened up in Old Town and people peered through the glass anxiously on a daily basis trying to figure out when it was going to open so they could be among the first to cash in on blood, sweat and tears. 

Read More

A One Stop, Paleo Date Night Shop [Snap Kitchen]

One of my resolutions in 2017 was to devote more time to having healthy relationships - with myself, my boyfriend, my body, my family, my friends, etc. I've realized that having some me time is a big part of this, so I've been trying to do more of that. I've also been trying to have date night a bit more frequently with Kyle. Combine this with the fact we are trying really, really hard to stay on budget this year so we can spend more on travel and getting a king size bed (hollaaaa!) and it can get a bit tricky. Enter into the picture Snap Kitchen

Read More

OTG Bootcamp with Erin of Loop Looks

Having been an active member of SWEAT Chicago for a year, I was no stranger to using a kettlebell in my workouts. That being said, no matter how many times I did swings or squats in those classes, I had never devoted a block of time to perfecting my form, which is surprising since I obsess over things like that. When Erin of Loop Looks suggested we meet up at OTG Bootcamp for some kettlebell work, I jumped right on that idea.

Read More

Community Dining: Gunthorp Farms & Kitchfix

A few months back, I connected with Paul Sippil, the founder of Community Dining. His vision was to bring together people in the community to support restaurants, farms, venues and more that focus on local and sustainable farming. The events provide an opportunity to find out more about the practices they use and discuss various health and wellness topics. 

Read More

SWEAT with Erin of Erin's Inside Job

This session is a bit different than my others. The workout I'm covering was a class at SWEAT Chicago. Not only have I been here before, but I'm a monthly unlimited member so I frequent it 4-5 times a week. On top of that, Erin is an instructor there! To switch things up, instead of us taking a class together, I made sure to sign up for a time when Erin would be leading the class. 

WORKIN' ON OUR FITNESS:

When I attended my first class at SWEAT, I had no idea what I was in for. I left the class with tired muscles and a disgustingly sweaty shirt. A year later, nothing has changed. Which is probably why I love this studio so much.

Each 60 minute high intensity interval class is led by one of SWEAT's certified trainers. They start off the class by showing you every move and going over technique. Then, they get down to business. Throughout the entire class, they motivate you, push you and (inevitably) provide you with some great karaoke. Because SWEAT only allows a certain number of students, there is plenty of room for each movement and the trainers are able to with their students on proper form and technique. At SWEAT, you get to know the other students and the trainers and become part of a whole new community of people! One big, huge, amazing community of people who like to get really, really sweaty together. 

The classes at SWEAT are intent driven, so each day they focus on a different group of muscles. If you want to work on your arms, go on Mondays. Needing some extra cardio? Fridays will wear you out. In search of a J.Lo booty? Go for the notoriously hard workout on a Wednesday. Aside from constantly working different muscles, each day has a different format, uses different equipment and incorporates new movements. Whether you are a beginner or a long-time student, you can make it through a class and have it be challenging (but do-able) for you. If needed, the instructors will provide modifications for movements to accommodate preference or injury, so you can always participate. There's also constant room for advancement and improvement so you won't max out of a class. Increase your weight, speed or your reps for a bigger challenge. If you don't, the instructors will be sure to do it for you (trust me!)

One of my favorite days of the week at SWEAT is Tuesday and I make a habit of going to Erin's 7am class. The workout format is Tabata, which consists of eight rounds of 20 seconds on then 10 seconds rest of each movement before moving on to the next set. I like this format because once you finish a movement, you never see it again. I might dread the incline sprints or the burpees, but I know that once I get through it I never, ever have to do it again. Well, at least not until the next class. Whether it's my favorite day or not, 7am classes suck when you know you could be sleeping. It takes a great trainer to make me want to leave my warm bed to go work out. Luckily, Erin fits the bill. She constantly encourages you and reminds you that it's "only 20 seconds." It can be easy to get a bit lost during newer movements or during transitions, but Erin does a great job of guiding you and correcting your form. She's also a solid DJ so you'll have a no lack of upbeat songs.

Have I gone on long enough about how much I love this place and have I convinced you to go now? If so, sign up for your first class for only $15! 

THE INSIDE SCOOP:

Even before meeting Erin, I followed Erin's Inside Job pretty regularly. If you have a serious love for food (like Erin) you will want to follow her. Aside from the occasional recipe or product post, you can enjoy recaps of her food missions, like scouring the city for the best smoothie bowls. It's that kind of dedication that really draws you in. Don't worry, these drool worthy indulgent foods are balanced out with clean eating recipes, a healthy amount of fitness and life lessons.

Originally from Maryland, Erin moved to Virginia with her husband before they made their way to Chicago. Most of her work had been in the administrative field while working to become a pharmacist. Although she had been working hard to reach her goal of becoming a pharmacist, her world was shaken up when her drug and alcohol addiction was discovered. As a result, she lost her job and started on the difficult road to recovery. This recovery is what led to Erin's Inside Job. Erin started her blog in September 2013 when she was inspired by other blogs she was reading. She felt she had a significant story to tell and that blogging was a way she could give back to others while learning more about herself. You can read more on Erin's addiction here.

One of the topics Erin enjoys writing about most is self-esteem and emotional wellness because that was something she struggled with for a long time. Playing on this topic, one of my favorite posts from Erin was titled "My Anti-Goals List for 2016." I'm a firm believer that focusing on negative aspects of yourself is one of the worst things you can do, so I love that Erin took the "what I won't do" route. Another love of Erin's is anything food related. She enjoys when companies reach out to her and give her the opportunity to test out new products and recipes. 

In the beginning, Erin's Inside Job was a healthy living blog focused on food and fitness. Erin realized that while she kept trying to make the outside look good, she needed to focus on the inside and overall wellness too. She began encompassing more emotional and mental wellness into her site. The more I read Erin's Inside Job, the more I can see it's a reflection of Erin and her growth as a person, as a blogger, as a trainer and as an almond milk latte aficionado. Erin plans to continue to work on producing good, helpful content for her blog. She is looking to post recipes and tutorials that will forever remain relevant to her readers (known in the blogging world as "evergreen.") Erin's Inside Job will keep it's the personal touch with her weekend recaps and her Friday Five posts, which really give you a glimpse into her day-to-day life. Bonus - Erin is writing a book which will talk about her personal story and also what she wishes she had known growing up about being a healthy, emotional person!

Between personal training, freelance writing, public speaking, teaching at SWEAT and working on her blog, I have no idea how Erin fits her day into 24 hours, but she does it. She works out, eats killer food, tries out new products, comes up with tips and tricks relevant to everyone and THEN she shares it with the world. 

TIDBITS OF TRUTH:

Favorite blogs to follow? SuzlyfePinch of YumOh She GlowsHello to FitPumps & Iron and Katy Widrick
What's your ultimate meal? Chicken with lots of veggies like spaghetti squash and sweet potato. Or Pizza Mac n' Cheese at Dimo's.
How do you take your coffee? No regular coffee. Decaf doppio espresso or an almond milk latte.

BOTTOM LINE:

Erin's Inside Job shows a way for people to live their best lives by improving their physical, emotional and mental selves.


Erin is a personal trainer, fitness instructor and blogger in Chicago. When she's not training others, she's busy focusing on her own fitness and exploring the city to find the best foods and share them on Instagram. That obsession led her to nab the Director of Social Media position at Sweat Chicago, so you can basically always find her on her phone. Her blog, Erin's Inside Job, focuses on helping others discover that true wellness comes from within and from balancing not only physical health, but mental, emotional, and spiritual as well. Her work can also be found in such publications as The Huffington Post and Refinery29.

Stay motivated with Erin on TwitterInstagramFacebook or Pinterest

Full Psycle with Rachel of Wayfaring Rachel

WORKIN' ON OUR FITNESS:

After having gone to a couple cycling classes, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from Full Psycle. Yeah, well I was pretty wrong. From the start, this studio is unlike any of the others I have gone too. In a great way. Neomi was the instructor for my 45 minute Full Psycle class. She was friendly and pumped up. Similar to SoulCycle, the studio is darker when you walk in and get set up on your bike. It has upbeat music playing throughout the class, but is much, much more interactive. Each bike is numbered, which corresponds to your stats on the board. Starting with blue, up to green, yellow, orange and then finally, red, the color your bike is at any given moment corresponds to what effort "zone" you are in. Initially, this can seem a bit intimidating because people aren't always at the same level, but Full Psycle takes care of that! The beginning starts with a 3 minute push. Your efforts and pace at that time are averaged out to determine your own personal zones and what it takes to get you there. These zones are yours and yours alone for the rest of the class.  

WORKIN' ON OUR FITNESS:

Throughout the 45 minutes, you participate in mileage races, timed pushes and other various activities and you can see your progress on the board the whole time. You'll be able to see your individual mileage for the class, speed and the amount of energy you have created. Weights are incorporated into this class as well, but in my opinion, in a better manner than at SoulCycle. At various points throughout the class you are doing weight work, then a push, then more weight work, another push, etc. It felt much more cohesive than just small weights at the end.

Overall, I found the atmosphere at Full Psycle to be super friendly and less intimidating. It allows you to push yourself harder and keeps you accountable. More than just the workout, the customer service here is top notch. Included with your class, your shoes are free, you are provided a towel and you can even grab a water out of the cooler at no charge. Walk into the classroom and there are employees who are willing and eager to help you get your bike set up correctly. Push your way through your class and at the cool down for the end of class, you'll fall in love with whichever Full Psycle staff member is carrying around the tray of cool towels for you to grab. If you're into cycling, looking to push yourself, hold yourself accountable or just want to try something new I can't recommend this place enough!

Your entire first week is FREE! Check out Full Psycle Lincoln Park to reserve a class now!

IT'S WHO YOU KNOW:

If you ask Rachel where she's from, you're going to get about 100 answers. Most recently, she moved from Chicago to Cincinnati, but her love for exploring, has also given her opportunity to live in several other states, like Texas and Kentucky. In Chicago, she spends her time blogging primarily, but also works as a marketing consultant. You wouldn't really know that a couple years ago she was in college for pre-veterinary medicine.
 
It was during that time that she realized she didn't want to spend every day inside of a lab, so she ditched that idea and took off on a European backpacking trip. She found her love for traveling and after that trip ended, she just kept on going. Part of what Rachel loves most about traveling is how you don't just learn more about other cultures, but you learn more about yourself. Some people are born, raised and remain in the same city their whole lives (which Rachel insists there is nothing wrong with) but she wants to spend her time immersing herself all over the world. 
 
Italy is one of Rachel's favorite trips. She took an Italian class before going, which allowed her to experience it a bit more authentically. Aside from vacation destinations, if she could move anywhere that she has visited, it would be Budapest. You can even read a bit about her love affair with Budapest's Ruin Pubs! With all of the great places around the world, where should you go first? Rachel says that all of Southeast Asia is a great travel option.

GOOD READS:

In college, Rachel had a lifestyle blog, but she realized she didn't love it and left it behind. Instead, in May 2015, encouraged by her love of travel, she started Wayfaring Rachel.
 
Travel can take a toll on people and it can be stressful. Aside from the physical demands that the actual act of traveling requires, there's all the mental stimulation when trying to decide where to go, what to do, how much to spend, etc. Wayfaring Rachel is designed to lighten this process. As an overall guide on "how to travel," this blog will introduce you to new destinations and what is a "can't miss" experience there. You'll even get an idea on what to bring with you to really ease the process. 
 
Wayfaring Rachel's information will continue to expand as Rachel hits more destinations (like Greece!) and expands the topics she covers. An avid yogi, she would love to dabble in health and fitness, especially how it relates to travel. It's important to stay healthy while traveling and not get sidetracked with the experiences and all of the food. ALL. OF. THE. FOOD. This blog may soon cover food to eat and ways to stay fit while on vacation. Not to mention having the right type of clothing with you. You can also expect to see some vegan recipe posts. Being plant based herself, Rachel wants to share some healthy ideas and travel options with her followers.

TIDBITS OF TRUTH:

Favorite blogs to follow? World of Wanderlust and The Blonde Abroad
What's your ultimate meal? Really, really good oatmeal. Favorite is steel cut oats, a bit of water, cashew milk, almond butter, blueberries and some cinnamon. 
How do you take your coffee? Black and lots of it. No cream and no sugar.

BOTTOM LINE:

Wayfaring Rachel is a blog for 20 something women who are interested in traveling to new places. It's a place for people always looking for new destinations to inspire them and help them discover new places.


Rachel Medlock blogs about travel, fashion, and fitness at Wayfaring Rachel, while also spreading the love by contributing to sites like The Culture Trip and Mogul. As a lifelong nomad, she jumps on a plane (or train…or automobile) as often as possible. She has a penchant for Audrey Hepburn movies, bourbon, trying to master handstands, rescuing animals, and anywhere there's sunshine. 

Explore with Rachel on InstagramFacebookTwitter & Pinterest