Studio: Trainology Fitness, 309 W Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60654 (to the right of Dunkin’ Donuts)
Class Focus: Similar to the studio’s Trainology class, HIKEology participants alternate 15 minutes on the treadmill at various inclines and 15 minutes with toning and strength exercises. You thought walking on a treadmill was easy? You thought wrong.
Cost per class: $25
Money saving offers:
▪ $0: First class
▪ $112.50: 5 pack ($22.50/class)
▪ $200: 10 pack ($20/class)
▪ $165: Unlimited monthly
▪ $445.50: Unlimited for three months (one-time introductory offer)
The Fab Fit Take:
Chicago does a lot of things well, especially in comparison to my home state of Kentucky. Summers on the beach? Check. BYOB restaurants? Check. Patio and rooftop dining? Check. Any sporting event or museum or show you could ever want to see? Check, check, triple check.
But one thing Chicago severely lacks is access to the great hiking. I love being able to walk pretty much anywhere in the city if I give myself enough time, but I miss doing so surrounded by trees and fallen leaves and branches while hitting some inclines. Sure, you can drive a couple hours outside of the city and walk the trails at Starved Rock, but it’s just not the same as having access to a hike (and a great workout) within about a thirty-mile radius.
Enter HIKEology. While Michael Wollpert and his crew can’t do much about the lack of forestry in River North, they’ve found a way to replicate the hiking workout using what I affectionately call “treadmills of death.” Not only do these treadmills go up to a 30-degree incline (refer to the above picture for a visual- I’ll let you digest that steepness for a minute), but they also have a negative incline to mimic the natural downhill slope that comes after you hike up a mountain.
Like most humans, I have a slight distaste for the treadmill. Sure, it gets the job done, but there’s very little joy to be found in staying on the same machine at the same speed for your designated number of miles. Variety is the spice of life, after all- and HIKEology is the cayenne pepper of my spice cabinet. After warming up by walking at a slight incline (6%) for a couple of minutes, Michael directed us through a number of intervals that took us up a mountain (going from 12% to 18% in 2% increments) while increasing our speed slightly in between each round. The beauty of the workout is that although the incline is tough, you can go at your own pace- a huge relief when Michael nonchalantly tells you that you’re going to do a set at the max incline of 30%.
But that max incline came after our second segment of the class, the TRX strength and toning portion. A newbie to TRX suspension, I was pleasantly surprised by the workout. I loved being able to use my body weight as resistance (in my mind, the less equipment necessary for a workout, the better), and I hate-loved doing pushups using the bands- it required a lot of core strength to keep from wobbling back and forth.
After total body toning with TRX and BoSu balls, we headed back to the treadmills. I practically skipped over, I was so happy to be hiking- and then Michael hit us with an interval that would make a sherpa cry. One minute at each incline of 10%, 20%, and 30%, three times through, increasing speed each time. I’m pretty sure I actually laughed out loud at him (sorry, Michael! It was a reflex!), but you know what? We all made it through. As someone who’s never really experienced “maxing out” at something, I feel kind of like a badass telling my friends, “Yeah, I did a few sets on the treadmill at 30% incline, but it’s really no big deal.” (It’s kind of a big deal)
For our final strength/toning segment, Michael kept the intensity up by adding modifications to the exercises we were doing (from curtsy lunges to curtsy lunge jumps- I grimaced just thinking about that) and adding cardio with the BoSu ball. The hour went by quickly, but it was jam-packed with activity, and I am still astonished that I enjoyed a treadmill workout.
A way to feel the burn of a hike without the inconvenience of leaving Chicago or bad weather (looking at you, freak snowstorm)? I’m in. Now, if only we could get some sweet nature scenes playing on the televisions…
Date taken: 2/1/14