Athletic men and women in the Chicago area have many choices when it comes to health and fitness centers. A good gym promotes physical activity via a safe, functional workout in an enjoyable atmosphere. More than a building to train and exercise, gyms are a place to socialize, unwind, and recharge. There are specialized fitness centers such as rock climbing gyms that have rock climbing walls instead of treadmills and powerlifting gyms filled with power racks and heavy weights. So, how do you know what type of gym is for you? Here are a few of the most popular options along with some of the best gyms in Chicago by workout type.

CrossFit Gyms

CrossFit is a specific form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that involves a strength and conditioning workout of functional movements performed at a high-intensity level. A standard CrossFit fitness program consists of a mix of aerobic exercises, bodyweight exercises (calisthenics), and weightlifting. The movements focus on day-to-day actions like squatting, pulling, and pushing to help build your muscles and endurance.

Due to the dynamic workouts and incredible energy, both beginners and experienced gym goers feel comfortable and challenged at a CrossFit gym. Men and women of all ages and athletic abilities can learn and master CrossFit training with a little determination and motivation.

If you’re in the Chicago area and considering CrossFit, MagMile CrossFit is a phenomenal choice. Not only does MagMile provide foundation classes and CrossFit group classes, it also offers personal training sessions and integrative nutrition programming. Their instructors address each individual’s unique fitness goals with care and professionalism.

Big Box Gyms

By definition, big box gyms are a chain of large, corporate gyms with locations in most states and major cities. These facilities generally encompass a decent amount of square footage and offer a wide range of different workout equipment, group fitness classes, and training. Chicago is home to many popular big box gyms including Anytime Fitness and Planet Fitness (both of which have numerous locations), Snap Fitness, YMCA, and 24-Hour Fitness.

Big box gyms are convenient and usually more inexpensive than specialized or boutique gyms. They offer a plethora of workout equipment, often including treadmills, free weights, rowing machines, stationary bikes,cardio equipment, and resistance machines. Some even have pools, saunas, tanning beds, and massage chairs.

With affordable access to equipment and a variety of self-directed workouts to choose from, big box gyms are excellent for beginners, casual gym-goers, and those who like to frequently mix up their workouts. These large chain gyms also tend to have more open hours than smaller gyms, with many remaining open 24/7, perfect for those with nontraditional working schedules.

Luxury Gyms

Luxury gyms have all the standard equipment and amenities of big box gyms and so much more. These fitness clubs provide an array of specialized services which can include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, juice bars, hot tubs, private changing rooms, full restaurants, and individual therapy rooms.

Upscale gyms cater to athletic men and women who are willing to spend the money necessary to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. Although more expensive than big box gyms, smaller luxury gyms provide far superior services, equipment, and amenities. At these high-end fitness clubs, you are able to indulge in the most opulent workouts while receiving the most personalized training and fitness services available.

There are a few admirable luxury gyms options in the Chicago area such as Lakeshore Sport & Fitness, Equinox The Loop, and Chicago Athletic Clubs. East Bank Club is an incredible health and fitness club featuring four pools with expert instruction, racquet sports, golf, cycling, a beautiful sun deck, yoga, and nutrition counseling.

Base Camp Gyms

Fitness boot camps provide invigorating group training sessions that involve mixture of strength and cardiovascular exercises. These dynamic classes are designed to lose body fat and increase strength through a variety of interval training. Many base camp sessions include workouts using TRX straps, plyometrics, weight lifting, and bodyweight exercises.

The great part about joining boot camp gyms is the camaraderie and social support provided by the coaches and other class participants. This is ideal for people who get easily bored going to a traditional gym and find it difficult to get into a routine of regular exercise. While everyone works out at their own pace, the overall team effort helps motivate you and push you further than you would go alone in the gym.

Burn Boot Camp is a well-known national chain of fitness boot camps while Barry’s Boot Camp is popular in Chicago with its multiple locations in the area. At Barry’s, you can burn up to 1,000 calories in one high-intensity interval training session with top instructors pushing you to be your best.

Personal Training Gyms

Small group training and personal training gyms offer a more intimate workout setting with more personalized instruction. An experienced personal trainer works with an individual or small group to achieve specific weight and exercise goals. Personalized fitness training is ideal for people who are ready to get serious about their fitness goals and desire extra attention from a trainer.

Typical gyms are often large, noisy, and full of distractions. A small private personal training studio provides a more suitable setting for training sessions as you and your trainer are able to communicate more effectively in a quieter setting. Measurements such as waist circumference, body weight, and body fat levels are often completed so you are able to track your progress objectively. Learning new exercises and movements with a trainer also helps reduce the risk of injury.

Although these personalized sessions are more expensive, individualized programs make it far more likely you will achieve your fitness goals. Your trainer will work at the level that is most comfortable for you. In the Chicago area, there are a few great options for personal training gyms like Lift and Evolve Fitness.

Choose A Workout Type To Match Your Lifestyle

The best gyms in Chicago have high-quality equipment, a safe and comfortable gym environment, proper maintenance, friendly staff members, and a selection of modern amenities. But most importantly, a great gym is one where you are motivated to work hard and gives you a desire to come back. You’ll know which workout type best matches your lifestyle when you can’t wait to do it again.