Sick of the treadmill? Check out the coolest fitness classes in Evanston

    Sitting on an exercise ball does not count as exercise. Photo by Sarah Collins/North by Northwestern

    Tired of studying constantly for your ridiculously hard Lit class? Ready to pound out your brain with your chemistry textbook? Worry not. There are classes you can take that require no studying whatsoever: fitness classes. The best part? If you stay on campus, your classes might even be free.

    Yes, you read correctly. For the first time ever, SPAC is offering cardiovascular and strength classes to students free of charge. And if you’re too cool for school, head off campus, where both LA Fitness and the Evanston Athletic Club are at your disposal. If you think fitness classes are boring, check out these unusual and exciting options offered right here in town.


    Boot Camp
    The name pretty much says it all: the class includes the same interval training, running and calisthenics that you would find at a real boot camp. Plus, instead of practicing for the army, you’re in it just to look hot in a swimsuit, which is always a bonus.

    Aqua Fitness

    The only class offered through SPAC that takes place in the pool, Aqua Fitness is a great option for injured athletes or if you’ve packed on a couple of extra pounds, since it’s low-impact, and you’ll be able to get in shape without putting stress on your joints. Don’t worry about being in a bathing suit in front of lots of intense athletes: This class tends to attract a lot of different people, both students and locals, with many different body types. It also takes place in the shallow end of the pool, so you don’t have to worry about swimming laps.

    The Catch:

    While both of those classes are free to full-time Northwestern students, make sure that you’re signing up for a cardio class and not a Mind & Body class, which will set you back $99. With registration, however, you get unlimited access to things like yoga and pilates every day of the week, so it’s something to consider if you want to keep your Zen without breaking a sweat.

    Evanston Athletic Club

    If you’re getting tired of campus and want to venture into Evanston, the Evanston Athletic Club is a great option. The student membership is $45 a month, versus $65 for non-students. Signing up with EAC will set you back $99, and it’s a 12-month commitment. Don’t fear, however, for your precious summer months or quarters abroad: EAC offers freezes on your membership for times away from Evanston. And they’ve got some pretty out-of-the ordinary classes.

    Flyte Time
    Never heard of Flyte Time? We haven’t either. It’s a boot camp-style class with elements of boxing and martial arts. The class focuses on pushing yourself to the extremes. If you enjoy interval training and challenging your endurance and you want to be ripped like Oscar De La Hoya, Flyte Time is probably a good fit for you.

    This “movement class” is focused on working more efficiently with your body. It isn’t a cardiovascular workout; you’ll actually learn how to use less energy to move your body using elements of posture and body awareness. The class also tends to attract an older crowd, giving you leave to be unembarrassed about any sub-par level of fitness you may be at. If you have a tendency to trip down the stairs often, this might be the class for you.

    If you’re not super intense about cardiovascular workouts but are a little scared you’ll fall asleep in Feldenkrais, Zumba offers the perfect Goldilocks fit. It’s a dance fitness class which uses moves and music from Latin American culture. Using salsa, merengue, and other similar dances, the idea is to shake the extra poundage off your derriere. This is another class that’s great for the better, because it’s open to all levels. You can do the basic steps are add your own “flair” and make it harder for yourself. This is the kind of class to have a good time in.

    LA Fitness

    The giant sports club by Barnes & Noble offers some pretty tempting classes. Plus, membership is month-to-month instead of on a contract (and you can freeze your membership here, too), so you can cancel your membership at any time if you need to save up your money for other things, like ramen noodles.

    Belly Dancing
    Belly dancing has been “borrowed” from the Middle East by fitness classes as a way to get in shape. Belly dancing strengthens your core, and because it focuses so much on just using one part of your body at a time, it helps with muscle isolation. It’s also a non-impact, weight-bearing exercise — which is good for the ladies because it can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

    Called “step” because of the elevated platform used in the classes, step will get your heart pumping and body sweating. It’s pretty much the epitome of an aerobics class. The uncoordinated beware, though: Step involves some basic choreography, and as the class gets more advanced, so do the moves. If you tend to be that kid who is hopelessly off the beat at the club, maybe skip out on the step class.

    Before you sign up…
    If you’re only going for clubs that cater specifically to students, LA Fitness is not your first choice. They currently do not offer a student discount, so you’ll pay the same price as any Joe Schmo. Each month costs $39.99, and the LA Fitness in Evanston doesn’t offer a lot of the classes that the Web site boasts. Beware of signing up to take the Latin Impact class –- you won’t find it there.

    Of course, all the local sports clubs also offer the normal classes, so it’s really up to your personal preference to decide which kinds of classes you want. But no matter if it’s correcting your movement efficiency, pretending (sort of) that you’re a solider in boot camp, or shaking your bod, a fitness class may be just the thing you need for a pick-me-up after a brain-frying lecture.


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