When my triathlon-running, amazing athlete friend was visiting from DC a few weeks ago, she asked me where a good place would be to try a class in Chicago. Without hesitating, I sent her to Trainology. If you want to leave the gym feeling like you just worked, take a Hike class (Hike45, Hike60, or Glide/Hike) at Trainology. I seriously think it's the hardest workout in the city in terms of endurance.
In all the classes at Trainology, your class is split into 4 blocks (15 minutes each in a 60 min class or 11 minutes in a 45 min class). You spend the first and third block on the treadmill and the second and fourth on the floor (or visa versa). In a Hike class, the treadmill goes all the way up to a 30 degree incline. That is STEEP. The trainer will walk you through a series of hills, like you're hiking a mountain. Everything is scalable, and the trainer will tell you if you should be at an easy pace, 70% of your effort, full effort etc. You can decide if you want to run or walk, and how fast, based on those cues. The floor consists of strength training with TRX and free weights, and now the classes will tell you ahead of time which body parts you'll focus on (mine worked on abs and upper body). If you do the Glide/Hike, then your time off the treadmill is spent on the glide boards.
Another thing I love about Trainology is that they use MyZone heart rate monitors up on the screen so you can see how hard you're pushing. Unfortunately, it's only compatible with WiFi-based heart rate monitors like the MyZone (my Polar doesn't work), but they sometimes have extras that they'll let you borrow. I think it's a great way to see if you're working your hardest - or too hard - all the way through class.
I would be crazy to talk about Trainology and not talk about the trainers. These guys (and gals) are AWESOME. I'm always amazed at how they can teach two groups (treadmill and floor) at the same time. Both groups are constantly doing different exercises or changing their speed or incline on the treadmill, but they are great at keeping track of what's next and when it's time to switch it up. I'm always super impressed. I took my most recently class with Dani, who has lots of energy and is awesome at making sure you understand how everything works with their incline treadmill. I've also taken several classes with the owner, Michael, who was recently on Live with Kelly and Michael as one of the Top Fitness Instructors in the Nation. This came as no surprise to me as not only is he one of the nicest trainers I've ever met, but he is so great at what he does. His energy level and enthusiasm for what he does is unmatched.
(I should note if you're looking at my heart rate readout below, I totally messed up this class. I'm so used to the 60 minute class that I didn't switch back to the treadmill after my first time on the floor, since I felt like I still had more time to go. So I ended up doing treadmill-floor-floor-treadmill, which explains the peaks at the beginning and end. Don't worry - it's usually very obvious when it's time to switch - I can just be a little ditzy when I'm exhausted!)
While lots of gyms in Chicago use this format where they switch between the treadmill and the floor, I've found the Hike and Glide/Hike classes totally unique. I'm definitely not a runner, but I love hiking (I grew up in New England after all), so for me this is my favorite endurance exercise. Plus, you can burn more calories even walking at a steep incline than you do running at a low incline! And, if you're lucky, you'll get to meet Michael's adorable Great Dane, Nikolai after class!
Trainers I've Tried: Dani (Knecht) Muckley, Michael Wollpert, Emily Stubler
Where: 309 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
Price: $165/mo, $20-25/class punchcard/drop-in (first class is free!)