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Fitness Gyms Travel

Best Gyms in Chicago

Best Gyms in Chicago, The Windy City is an exciting city loaded great food, good people and plenty of activities to keep any fitness enthusiast busy. I’m not a huge fan of deep dish, but oh man, do I love those chili dogs. While in Chicago, it’s easy to let those delicious franks, smothered in mouthwatering chili pack on a few unwanted lbs, but I’m here to tell you where you can turn that extra protein into muscle.  

Chicago traffic can be a bit of a pain, so I was not able to check out every premier club in the area, however I performed a few Google searches, and made sure I visited all the top rated clubs. Being a major city, Chicago has a lot to offer and I would put these clubs up against any top-tier club nationwide.

 

Best Health Club in Chicago

Lakeshore Sport & Fitness – Illinois Center

Lakeshore Basketball court and indoor track, courtesy of Lakeshore Health & Fitness.

 

Lakeshore is an incredible club with amazing amenities. They have 2 locations, both in Chicago. I was very impressed by the Illinois Center location. For a club located in the heart of downtown, it is massive. Also, a fun fact for climbers, this location is home to the tallest indoor climbing wall in the country!

Knowing I would eventually have to tackle the goliath climbing wall, I took my actual workout pretty easy. The free weight and cardio areas were spotless and very spacious. I would seriously doubt Lakeshore would ever be overcrowded to the point you would have to wait to use the equipment. I finally made it to the climbing wall about an hour into my visit. They gave me a quick belay refresher and I was off to the races. I can’t state enough, that wall is massive. I have no fear of heights at all, but looking down from the peak even got my heart moving pretty quick!

Other than a massive rock climbing wall and typical gym amenities, Lakeshore is host to top-quality spa-type amenities. Their executive locker rooms have both a dry sauna and steam room to help you relax and escape the chaos of city life. Their pool and whirlpool are also top-tier amenities that provide an oasis from downtown life. To round out the amenity list, Lakeshore is also home to a full-size basketball court with an indoor track and multiple squash courts. It is hard to beat the plethora of high-quality amenities you will find a Lakeshore.

 

Front Desk’s Best Class Pick:

Featured Amenities: basketball court, sauna, steam room pool, large fitness studio, indoor track, rock climbing wall, racquetball, putting green, golf simulator, squash courts

Monthly membership dues:

Day pass rate: $30

Cleanliness: 10/10

Amenities: 10/10

Overall: 10/10

 

Best Mid-Size Fitness Club

Chicago Athletic Clubs – Lincoln Park

 

Front view of the Lincoln Park Athletic Club, courtesy of Chicago Athletic Clubs.

Chicago Athletic Clubs is well known in the Chicago area as having top-tier, premium fitness clubs and while you can’t go wrong visiting any of them, I can only pick one. The Lincoln Park location gets my vote for a few different reasons. One, the location is spotless. Two, they have every amenity I could ask for. And three, it’s in Lincoln Park, one of my favorite areas in the city.

The staff at the Lincoln Park location was extremely hospitable. I realize mid-westerners are notoriously welcoming, and the staff at CAC made me feel right at home. As I stated above, the facility itself at the Lincoln Park location is immaculate. I visited just after 5PM and never felt like the facility was overcrowded. The pool was a little small and I had to double up for lap swimming, but like everyone else I met, my lap lane partner was extremely nice and welcoming.

CAC – Lincoln Park really is a tremendous club with amazing amenities. I wasn’t able to experience them all on my trip, but they have both a dry sauna and steam room in their luxury locker rooms, a functional training area and huge studio space with over 150 classes offered weekly.

 

Front Desk’s Best Class Pick:

Featured Amenities: extensive free weights, sauna, steam room, spin studio, studio classes, pool

Monthly membership dues:

Day pass rate: $20

Cleanliness: 10/10

Amenities: 9/10

Overall: 10/10

 

Best Big-Box Chain Club:

LA Fitness – East Loop (Signature Club)

LA Fitness East Loop location, courtesy of Google.

I like LA Fitness’ in general, and this is a great location. I visited around 7:30PM on a Wednesday. I called ahead and heard that was the best time to come in to play pick-up basketball. They weren’t too much of a match for my North Carolina basketball skills, but still a great group of guys and some really good games.

The club was a little more crowded than the larger health clubs I’ve reviewed which is pretty typical with big-box chains. Their location is about as good as it gets and the amenities offered are on par with much larger health clubs. They have a full basketball court, pool, sauna and whirlpool. I also got in a quick lift, and like all LA Fitnesses I’ve ever visited, the equipment was clean, racked and quality.

With LA Fitness, you know what you’re getting, a well run, clean, quality facility at a great value. They are typically a little more crowded than other comparable single-location health clubs, but for the price you get a great deal. I really enjoyed my time at LA Fitness and had a great time playing basketball.

 

Front Desk’s Best Class Pick: 

Featured Amenities: basketball, whirlpool, sauna, juice bar, cycle studio, pool

Monthly membership dues: $49

Day pass rate: $20

Cleanliness: 10/10

Amenities: 9/10

Overall: 9/10

 

Best Bargain Gym:

Blast Fitness – West Davidson

Blast Fitness Group X studio, courtesy of Yelp

Blast is a small chain with under 20 locations spread across Arizona, California, Illinois and Massachusetts. This was my first trip to a Blast, and the West Davidson location is one of their newest clubs. Blast is running with a similar business model to Planet Fitness. They have a nice gym that has everything you need for a good workout but do not have a ton of extras. This allows them to keep cost down and offer memberships at an incredible value.

For a bargain gym chain, Blast is really nice. They had top-notch equipment, the facility was huge, and it did not seem overcrowded. At $8.88 for their basic package, I’m not sure how you can really go wrong. In all honesty, I had a great workout at Blast and thought it was an extremely well-maintained club.

As far as amenities go, the clubs is fairly basic. They have a great free weight and machine selection, large class studio, and daycare, but that’s about it. The locker rooms were nice, but they do not have any spa-type amenities. The gym is clearly for individuals who are looking to get in, get a workout, and leave.

 

Front Desk’s Best Class Pick:

Featured Amenities: lots of free weights and machines, group classes, kid’s club

Monthly membership dues: $8.88 – $19.99

Day pass rate: $10

Cleanliness: 8/10

Amenities: 6/10

Overall: 8/10

 

Best Functional Fitness:

River North CrossFit

River North CrossFit, Courtesy of Jeb’s Blog

I can’t say enough what great quality coaches RNCF has. I was also impressed by the facility, but was blown away by the coaches and their attention to detail. There were a few guys that were newish to CrossFit and functional movements in my class, and the coaches made sure to put form on the forefront of their workout. I’ve been to CrossFit classes in the past where the “acceptable” form a coach allowed was subpar (I personally believe that is how injuries occur), but the coaches here were very knowledgeable and great at enforcing correct form.

The facility is nice. I would say it’s far above average compared to your average box. The equipment was well kept and the flooring was kept pretty clean. As a traditional CrossFit box, there was nothing special, but it definitely gets the job done. If anything, I would say it is about double the size of a normal box. If I had to guess, I would say 5,000 – 6,000 sqft.

Overall, a great box with quality, knowledgeable staff. I strongly recommend you make this your home if you’re into CrossFit or are looking to move to more functional workouts.

 

Front Desk’s Best Class Pick:

Featured Amenities: functional training, certified strength coaches, Olympic lifting

Monthly membership dues:

Day pass rate:

Cleanliness: 10/10

Amenities: 5/10

Overall: 9/10

Honorable mentions: Fitness Formula Clubs, Crunch, Life Time Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Planet Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Snap

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Hey! I'm Rob, the founder of Localfit. After spending the majority of my twenties on the road playing minor league baseball for the Oakland A's and Washington National's organization, I went back to college at UNC (go Heels) and took a huge interest in entrepreneurship. I saw a need among travelers to have quality places to exercise when away from home. The idea for Localfit was born, and we have been chasing it hard ever since! Localfit can only get better with your feedback, and we want to improve. Please feel free to reach out to me and let me know what we can do better. rob@localfitusa.com