Channel Your Inner Rocker at This “Fitness Rebel” Studio

Music. An ever-changing yet unfailing source of joy, solace and expression – and for many of us, a powerful source of motivation and inspiration. It’s no wonder we’ve started seeing trainers put more time and thought into crafting their playlists. After all, in my humble opinion, there is no fitness without music.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that a badass beat or moving melody can be the difference between giving up or pushing through a few extra miles or reps. I think that’s why I gravitated towards West Town’s rock ‘n’ roll-inspired studio, Through the Body.

Through the Body (TTB) describes themselves as “a dance and fitness studio that combines our love for music with our passion for staying active.” This simple, yet profound, description spoke to me on a deeper level than just the familiar promise of weight loss or calorie burn. I loved the idea of workouts inspired by music – it felt refreshing, real and raw.

Considering my major affinity for dance cardio classes like WERQ and Zumba, my first class at TTB was called Girls Got Rhythm. Dancing to a variety of pop and rock hits while working up a serious sweat is basically my version of fitness heaven. And the class did not disappoint. I immediately bought a five-class package so I could see what else this rockin’ studio had to offer.

As I sifted through the various class descriptions on their website, I saw a few familiar formats like yogalates, kickboxing and core work. But I was blown away by the number of unique classes I could choose from – much different from what you might find at a typical group fitness studio. One day I was shakin’ my pom-poms during the dance cardio class, Pom Squad, the next I was sweatin’ to the 80’s with the hair metal-themed kettle bell class, Hellz Bellez.

Other classes include Iso-bad – a combination of pilates, core work and balance, Doonya – a popular Bollywood-inspired workout and my personal favorite, Pound – a total body cardio jam session using lightly-weighted drumsticks. Inspired by the slew of rock posters on the studio’s walls and the inciting melodies of AC/DC and Ozzy Osbourne, I let loose and drummed my way through a serious, yet seriously fun, full-body workout. After taking that class, I was officially a TTB groupie.

As TTB approaches its one year anniversary, I had the opportunity to chat with owner, founder and instructor, Stephanie Escobedo, to learn more about the studio’s history. As a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, Stephanie knew she wanted to do something special with her dance degree. After establishing her very own dance company (also named Through the Body), she was given the incredible opportunity to take over the space in West Town. Her vision for the studio was inspired by both her and her husband’s lifelong love of rock music, concerts and, of course, her own passion for dance. 

“We like to consider ourselves ‘fitness rebels’ because we do things a little differently,” Stephanie said. “We’re maybe a little bit more down and dirty, less prim and proper. We want to make sure that every single person who walks through our doors feels comfortable enough to be themselves.”

For someone who loves group fitness as much as I do, I still struggle with feelings of intimidation and inadequacy when I take new classes. So I appreciated Stephanie’s words about making people feel comfortable. I also admired her perspective on TTB’s size.

“It’s very rewarding for me when I’m able to get to know everyone who takes our classes on a personal level. It’s a special relationship you may not necessarily get at a bigger studio,” she said.

I can personally attest to the warmth and welcome I felt from my very first class. Some studios have a bigger space. Some have state of the art equipment. TTB has heart. And a hell of a lot of it.

Now if you’re curious what songs TTB is rockin’ out to, you’ll just have to come hear for yourself. Check out their weekly class schedule as well as their monthly events, like the popular Bourbon and Burlesque class. And in the words of TTB, “for those about to sweat” – we salute you.

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About Michelle Grano

Growing up in the small town of Berwyn, IL, Michelle spent most of her youth playing sports and basically just being sweaty all the time. But she didn’t really get into working out until after college, when she noticed all those late night pizzas and Dairy Queen trips had finally caught up to her. She started her fitness journey back at home in her parents’ living room with workout DVDs like Kettle Worx and anything Jillian Michaels. Eventually she worked up the courage to join a gym, where she discovered her love of group fitness classes. And even though you won’t find her chowing down on pizza anymore, she almost always orders dessert, and has never met a french fry she didn't like. When she’s not working out, eating or watching Harry Potter for the millionth time, she’s working as a copywriter at Energy BBDO.