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How to Stay Fit in the City of Gym Shoes: Some of Chicago’s Topnotch Workout Places

Chicago is famous for quite a few things and food is definitely on the list. Home to numerous hot dog stands, the jibarito sandwich and other savory ethnic cuisines, Chi-town can sure make it hard for you to stay on a diet or keep fit.

Luckily, Chicagoans are also known for their love of the gym shoe. Yes, they wear gym shoes… not sneakers. Sneakers just doesn’t sound right here. And since we’re speaking of gym shoes, this city is packed with places where you can wear them out – gyms, studios, pools, ice rinks and running trails.

With so many options and so little time to find the right one for you, we’ve done our part and have come up with a guide to getting fit in the Windy City.

Here are our options for your workout routine:


Shred415_keeping fit in

Every successful fitness studio starts with an honest story. In the case of Shred415, that story is about trainers Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer, who were looking to open a place that was truly effective and inclusive for parents and busy professionals alike. This was in 2011. Today the studio has become a national fitness brand with locations all over the States and 4 important ones in vibrant areas of Chicago – in Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, South Loop, and Old Town. You can also find a studio in Hinsdale and two North of Chicago, so as far as locations go, Shred415 has a very generous offer.

Parents, bring your children to ShredKids – while you get to do your workout, your little ones are taking a 45-minute class with focus on coordination and balance. As for you, you can do dynamic interval pieces of training that alternate between strength exercises and drills on treadmills. You will increase speed, gain strength and, best of all, burn calories!


If you want to get ahead, pedaling will do that for you at Cycmode. You may not be physically advancing on their bikes, but the studio will definitely take your body and imagination to a whole new level. They are an indoor cycling facility in South Loop with a special touch. The “mode” in their name stands for every participant owning their workout, depending on their mindset. The Bike will allow you to steer and lean, making the ride more authentic, more exciting and ultimately more efficient. If you want to take it up a notch, go on their famous Trip training course a 40minute, fully immersive bike workout combined with a virtual journey through different worlds. If we’ve piqued your curiosity, go check them out.

First Ascent Climbing & Fitness

Indoor rock climbing isn’t for the faint of heart, but it comes with a lot of benefits – muscle strength, coordination, and focus – and it’s a lot of fun to boot. In Chicago, you can practice it at First Ascent Climbing & Fitness, at any of their convenient locations in Avondale, Uptown, Humboldt Park or Block 37 (in the Loop). If you’re new to the game but wish to learn, you are welcome to join their Learning The Ropes or Learning To Boulder classes to learn the basics. And if you’re looking for diversity, the activities at First Ascent are not just limited to what’s on the walls – they also offer yoga classes and a fully stocked fitness area at each of their locations.

Bottom Line Yoga

Pacing yourself in a perpetually-changing environment is a virtue these days and if you have it, you’ll probably like Bottom Line Yoga. What’s so special about them? They get you because they’ve been you, so they try tending to your needs. The concept is called “corporate yoga” or corporate wellness. A trainer comes to your workplace and holds rewarding yoga sessions for you and your colleagues. You’d be surprised to find out that some of the trainers at BLY have had 9 to 5 jobs, just like you so they know just what to do to jolt you out of your desk routine. If you still feel like stretching and posing after this, you’ll find their studios on Jackson Blvd. or Wacker Dr.

Hubbard Street Dance

Music can be the answer to our daily stress, and it may well be in the case of your workout routine as well. You can dance the daily fatigue away at Hubbard Street Dance –  actually, your whole family can. Their activity is aimed at a very large audience, with programs for children based on age category, and programs for adults based on dance discipline and experience. Because they believe in the therapeutic power of dance, the facility trainers have also designed a class for people suffering from Parkinson’s that aims to slow down the progress of the disease. If you were already looking for something like this, you’ll find Hubbard Street Dance on West Jackson Blvd.

Whether you realize it or not, choreography is more than physical exercise and discipline – it can improve your posture, build more confidence and bring joy to your life.

X Sport Fitness

You might think that by getting a membership at a gym, you limit your options, but if that gym is X Sport Fitness, that’s not really the case. In fact, you might be multiplying them. Whether you’re just starting to work those muscles or you’re a gym fanatic, their menu is diverse: all cardio, all strength, or the two combined, personal training or interval training in small groups – no matter your choice, you’re guaranteed to sweat. Or you can opt for water fitness if you’re looking for a more fluid experience. For the mind and body, there are several yoga programs to choose from. From the city center to the outskirts, you can find an X Sport Fitness gym almost anywhere in Chicago, just check out their locations.

Skating Ribbon

Winter in Chicago can be brutal, but there’s no reason it should keep you inside when you could be burning some serious calories on the Skating Ribbon in Maggie Daley Park. This unique ice rink is designed to offer you a more intense skating experience with a path significantly longer than your ordinary skating rink, integrating fantastic urban scenery. You’ll be enjoying a different view of Chicago as you glide past views of the Chicago skyline. It is a great alternative for when you feel like breaking away a little from your indoor workout routine and braving the cold weather.

However, if you’re the outdoorsy type anyway and wind is not necessarily a problem for you, you can always try the Lakefront trail for a run or a biking session. With amazing views of the Western shore of Lake Michigan, it’s probably the most popular spot in Chicago for joggers, runners, and bikers. However, when the cold settles in, we do recommend you be careful in this area, as it can get particularly icy, given its proximity to the water.

 Johnny’s Ice House

Ice hockey is huge in Chicago, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Some might like to sit on the bleachers and watch the game, while others might want to take a more active part in it. At one of Johnny’s Ice Houses, you can take a 101 or 102 class for beginners. Programs like Rat Hockey and Stick and Puck allow participants to play in a casual environment. Rat Hockey is a pickup game. Stick and Puck is open ice to work on your game or your fitness. Johnny’s also has a large men’s league that goes year round with over 145 teams ranging from Beginner (none to 5 years experience) to Elite. You can also get your kids in the game, thanks to their youth classes.

Besides working out and increasing your balance, by playing hockey, you will also learn how to be a great team player.

YMCA of Metro Chicago

The YMCA centers in Chicago are a great choice for indoor swimming. Their locations are spread throughout the city from busy districts, like High Ridge, to the outskirts. You can take swimming lessons as well, if you’re a beginner or if you simply want to improve your swimming skills.  As you probably already know, swimming is extremely beneficial for your health, especially for your heart and lungs and, on the plus side, it can also be an outlet for the daily accumulation of stress.

It may be difficult to break bad habits and form new, beneficial ones; and it may be even harder to make them stick. But with some will and motivation, anyone can do it. Working out is not only good for your physical state and health – it can also help you sleep better and become more confident in your social interactions and on your work. It’s also important to remember that individuals have different levels of physical strength, so it’s good to pace yourself and have a trainer help you choose the right workout for you.

Did we cover all the great workout activities you can practice in Chicago, or is there some other workout you do and would like to share with us? If so, drop us a line at and we’ll consider adding it!


Marina Andresi
Marina Andresi
Marina is a marketing content developer for RENTCafé.com. She likes to research and write about real estate market trends and their impact on the nation's social scene. She also writes essays about significant films and TV shows. If you want to get in touch you can email her @

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