The Quest for the Perfect Workout: Boxing, Boot Camps, and CrossFit, Oh My!

 An unspecified number of years ago while living in the city, I had a 30-year-crisis. I decided it was time to get healthy. Since I’m an all or nothing person when it comes to working out, having never run more than 3 miles, I immediately signed up for the marathon.

Running was a great workout, but I needed to build in some solid cross-training. Some friends at the time were training through Jabb Boxing Gym. I have to say that Jabb ruined me for most other workouts. I loved the circuit of their camp, starting with warm-up and shadow boxing, moving to time for heavy bags, speed bags, hitting mitts with a trainer, and cardio. The class ended with more cardio and some ab work. The first time I left Jabb, my sole goal was not to bite it going down the stairs because my legs were so shaky. I got my tail kicked every time I went in there.


Then, I moved. I had two kids. I slacked. And now I want my workout back! Easy task, right? In the city, everyone knows about Bulldog Boot Camp, and there are boxing gyms spread around. In the ‘burbs – good luck. I’ve been looking for months.

What I was looking for:

– I didn’t want to join a large gym and do a cardio boxing class. I wanted the real deal, the same workouts fighters do.

– I refuse to wear makeup or dress up for the gym.

– I don’t want to be treated like a girl.

And I finally found it: 

Warrior Fighting in Downers Grove. I went to their co-ed boxing camp, and I think I’ve found a new home. Although I missed the full circuit of Jabb, I do like that this class is different every session. On Saturday, we spent a good 45 minutes of the hour on heavy bags, with some ab work and jump roping thrown in.  Everyone there was incredibly friendly and helpful, including owners Bob Miller and Jessica Storch.  Right now, I’m just happy to be able to lift my arms to type.

Memberships are set up in monthly packages: $60 gives you access to up to 10 classes, which includes both co-ed and women’s boxing camps, boot camp, and a number of martial arts classes. There are additional packages that give full access to the gym and private training. As a bonus, the gym is steps away from the Belmont Metra stop.

Note for the ladies: Warrior Fighting has the largest team of ranked women fighters in the country. 


Another alternative:

Fellow ChicagoNow blogger mazeklaw of Law of the Land swears by CrossFit,  something I’ve been too afraid to try so far. He recommends Elite Athletic Development in Arlington Heights, which offers a tough challenge with its CrossFit classes. CrossFit is a military-style workout that’s designed for those without much time and equipment. The Workouts of the Day, or WODs, are generally completed in 20 minutes or less, and most don’t require expensive equipment. 

Perhaps the best thing about CrossFit is also the worst: the difficulty of the workouts. Participants are quick to see that the challenge of the workouts is the quick results, particularly the all-around strength-building.

Proprietors Jim and Karen Inman offer a variety of other endurance workouts, including boot camp classes and cycling programs. The affable duo just opened another location in Arlington Heights. For more information, visit

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Specifically for moms:

Good Samaritan Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove has a Mommy Boot Camp that is phenomenal. I’ve done the camp after both of my kids were born, and I have yet to meet someone who didn’t see results. The class meets Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Tuesday nights with Julie Bearden involve studio work with BOSUs, weights, sprints, ab work, and whatever else she can think to throw at you. Saturday mornings with Katie Baldwin focus on running, core work, and a whole lot of work on the stairs. In addition to the two classes, you get a punchcard for a third workout of your choice at the gym. With a  range of classes, a pool, and childcare available, there are plenty of options. Pre- and post-testing is done including a screening by a physical therapist to gauge your fitness level, which is to help you see tangible results.

Although Good Sam’s Health and Wellness Center is a membership gym, non-members can sign up for the class as well. 


To everyone trying to stick to exercise resolutions in the new year, good luck! The gyms are starting to quiet down now after the new year rush, so dust off the gear and get out there!

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