Crosstown Fitness is located in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood on the revitalized stretch of Madison Avenue between Halsted and Racine. The gym features an open room covered in Astroturf, a wall of treadmills, a wall of TRX straps, and assorted shelves of medicine balls, kettlebells, dumbbells, and weight bars.
There's also a smoothie station as well as coolers full of pre-made ready-to-go foods in case you finish your workout and need some food right away.
And, let me tell you, you WILL need to replish some calories after finishing a Crosstown Fitness class. The classes are 45 minutes to an hour in length. I bought a deal for 5 classes so I took one class a week for five weeks and every single one featured different exercises. I had three different instructors and each of them had their own style as well.
Basically, though, all the classes were set up in an interval format. Do an exercise for a set amount of time, rest for a few seconds, then move on to another exercise. Wash, rinse, repeat. And just when you thought you couldn't possibly do another round of a certain exercise, it would be time to switch it up to a new group of moves. We did everything from running around the block holding a medicine ball to doing 200 body weight squats and 100 push-ups.
The focus is on strength training and explosive cardio movements. Lots of plyometrics, kettlebells, and sprinting. None of which are for beginners. In fact, as someone who loves HIIT training, who loves lifting weights, and who found the four weeks of Crossfit I did to be a ton of fun, I would not recommend Crosstown Fitness to beginners. I loved it, but it was easy to see why it was not for everyone.
Large group classes (sometimes as many as 20 people or more it seemed) made it so the instructors weren't able to or didn't choose to spend time ensuring that everyone's form was okay. This is critical when doing something like a kettlebell swing. Additionally, some of the instructors came across a bit too much like drill sergeants for some people's tastes and one could feel as though they were being pushed too hard.
In a setting like this it's key to know your own limitations and be able to stick to them but also be able to push yourself a little bit harder than you would on your own. But, as much as I loved Crossfit when I did it, I'm still not always a fan of AMRAP or as many reps (or rounds) as possible in a certain time frame. I feel that it can lead to poor form and numerous injuries.
Crosstown Fitness does offer on-boarding introductory sessions for those who need to learn some of the moves in a more controlled environment and they also offer individual personal training if group classes sound intimidating. I didn't take advantage of either of these, though, so I can't comment. I believe, though, that you can do a free personal training session if you want to learn more about their offerings.
Overall, I personally enjoyed the five classes I took at Crosstown. I loved doing something I wouldn't do on my own and I really liked that every class I did featured different exercises. So, if you're feeling stuck in a rut with your strength training and cardio and are looking for a hardcore workout that will leave you dripping in sweat and toilet-sore for a few days then this is the place for you. Because Crosstown Fitness will kick your butt, so you'd better be prepared to like it.
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