Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood has a distinct character and a creative heart, so when a studio like Chi50 plants its roots adjacent to the neighborhood’s lifeline – the 606 – it needs to represent that in everything it does.
Packed with Megaformers, the reformer of choice of the Lagree Fitness method, Chi50 takes on the personality of the neighborhood as it sculpts participants’ lean muscles. This core-intense workout takes place in a room surrounded by nods to the studio’s place, from the entryway mural to the labels on the walls instructors use to cue classes. Walls are marked with street names and landmarks from the neighborhood including “Milwaukee” and “606.” Throughout class, instead of saying, “Face the windows,” instructors say, “Turn towards Milwaukee.”
When Rachel and I stepped into this studio at 6 am on the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend, I expected crickets. It’s tough to get out of bed on any ordinary Tuesday before 6 am, let alone the Tuesday following a long weekend.
What we encountered was a studio filled with people describing their hangovers to a cheery and welcoming instructor. Cheri Byrd, our instructor and the owner of the Chi50, puts as much love and care into her classes as she does into the studio’s already bustling community that’s grown since its opening in May.
When we stepped onto the machine, Cheri’s ’90s music blended with hip-hop set the tone for this sweaty, light-hearted class. We moved constantly as Cheri checked in on us to ensure that our feet were in the correct position and our bodies were facing the right direction.
It’s harder to get it wrong on the Megaformer. This machine is built for efficiency. Springs are easy to change and the carriage – or the long part of the machine that moves – is marked to make positioning your body a breeze. This way, the instructor can say, “put your right toes on the second red line” and you know exactly what she means.
Throughout class, whether we were lunging, planking or wheelbarrowing, the core was always working, which Pilates enthusiasts have come to expect – although it’s important to note this isn’t technically Pilates, it’s Lagree, but the premise is similar. And in these classes, moves like mermaid, scrambled eggs and catfish – yes, these are the names of exercises – deliver on the promise of a full-body burn.
By the time we walked out of this welcoming studio, we knew our abs had been duped. Rachel reported that she could move her torso without feeling every ab muscle by Saturday of that week, and I was in similarly rough shape. Crop-top abs, here we come.
Ready to jump into your first class? First-timers can drop in for just $10. Drop-ins are $35 and ClassPass members can stop by for a sweat in this lofty space at 1814 N Milwaukee.