Monday, March 23, 2015

ClassPass Chicago Reviews: Barre Code, Flirty Girl Fitness

I owe you more ClassPass reviews, and I'm finally going to deliver! If you're new around these parts, ClassPass is a monthly membership in a bunch of different cities that allows you to go to as many group exercise classes at participating studios as you want. The only limitation is that you can attend a max of 3 classes per month at the same studio. I hemmed and hawed over whether ClassPass was worth $99 a month for awhile (especially considering I have access to a gym in my office for free). After becoming increasingly bored with my office gym (and therefore increasingly lazy to with my workouts), I finally pulled the trigger in January and haven't looked back. I've been to classes all over the city, from barre to boxing to Bikram and more. As of this morning, I've been to 50 classes, an average of 5.5 classes a week! 

Today I wanted to talk about two of my absolute favorites: Barre Code's Brawl and Flirty Girl Fitness' Knockouts. Prior to joining ClassPass I had actually never been to a kickboxing class, but I always wanted to try out. Turns out I absolutely love the intensity of kickboxing classes, and nothing makes me feel quite as badass as throwing jabs and hooks at myself in the mirror. On with the reviews!

Barre Code - Brawl
When I went to my first class, I honestly had no idea what to expect considering I’d never been to a kickboxing class before. As I signed in, the instructor, Lara, informed me that the class was about 25 minutes of cardio, followed by 10 minutes of strength, followed by 10 minutes of cardio, and then 5 minutes of cool down. Lots of cardio makes me nervous, because sans running, I’m always afraid my endurance isn’t what it used to be, but there was no turning back.

Not actually from my class. (source)
The studio room itself has padded rubber floor and it was pretty dark, which, when we’re doing unfamiliar boxing moves, I appreciate so I don't have to fixate on my own awkward movements in the mirror. The class began some easy warmups, and then we launched into learning a series of moves, and then combining those moves together. We would learn a move, repeat it over for a number of counts, then learn the following move, and then repeat the combination. We repeated this process until we had a whole sequence of choreography (probably 8-10 moves), and then we did the entire combination the whole way through four time before breaking for strength... Which. Was. Brutal. Those tiny barre movements are always so deceptively hard, and even harder when your muscles are fatigued from the cardio. I’ve taken a bunch of Brawl classes now, each with completely different strengths sequences which were both very tough. We switched back to cardio for a few more repetitions of the full sequence. Lara’s cues were really helpful as we went along, so I could remember what was coming next. Even for a kickboxing newbie like myself, it wasn’t too tough to keep up (though my legs always get tangled for the first few sets of cross kicks). I also always like that we finish with a cardio burst of high knees or running in place before cooling down, because I'm really spent (but definitely riding the endorphin high) after that! 

Flirty Girl Fitness - Knockouts
I feel like Flirty Girl Fitness gets a bad rep for being "that place that offers pole dancing classes." What I've learned, though, is that pole dancing is just one of many classes FGF offers - the vast majority of which don't involve a pole. So far I've been to POUND (review here) and Knockouts, and no, I don't plan on attending a pole class anytime soon (but they look hard!). Unlike Brawl, Knockouts is less about the overall choreography, and more about learning one move and then repeating it until fatigued, and then moving onto the next move. Unfortunately the Knockouts classes are at a tough time for me to make them, but both classes I've been to I have loved (and I'd absolutely go more if they added more to the schedule!).

Like most cardio classes, the class begins with a short warmup before launching right into the moves. I would say that another major difference between Brawl and Knockouts is that Knockouts feels a little more like a workout (rather than learning choreography), because some of the moves are very close to more traditional exercises, like lunge + front kick. But the class moves really quickly, and I always feel a really great burn as we're finishing out the set of any one move. Also, Kelly, the instructor, sometimes pulls out the pads so we can actually throw some hits at a target, so I enjoy when I get to put my moves into practice and actually land some punches! I never would have thought that I would love kickboxing as much as I do (watching actual boxing feels so... violent), but it turns out the moves are a lot of fun, and a good way to get out some aggression :)

That's what I've been up to lately on the workout front! What are your favorite exercise classes?


  1. These look awesome! This ClassPass is a great idea! You never get bored. :)

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