Thursday, September 22, 2011

Equinox Turns 20!

The year: 1991. The Minnesota Twins won the World Series (I'd be a bad wife if I didn't mention that for my Twins-fan husband). The New York Giants won the Super Bowl. Gas only cost a little more than a dollar on average. Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and Nirvana worked their way onto our playlists--well, some of ours anyway since I calculated that I was in fifth grade and listened to tapes of M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice. The Dow Jones Industrial average was only about a third of what it is now. Equinox opened its doors for fitness fans--its first facility opened at 76th and Amsterdam in New York City on the autumnal equinox (how appropriate!), September 23, 20 years ago tomorrow.

And they're celebrating their 20th anniversary in one of the most appropriate ways possible: throwing a fitness party and offering a steal of a membership deal if you join today, in Chicago, anyway. The deal? Join Equinox today for only $20. And bring you and your friends free of charge to the Loop location, even if you're not a member. The party? Your typical food, drinks and decorations, but spiced up with a 75-minute Then & Now workout promising to take you through the annals of fitness from circa 1991 to present. Don't worry, you won't have to dig out your best Jane Fonda moves or push your way through 8-minute abs. So. Much. Better.

Fitness has come a long way in those 20 years, but it also lives up to that saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Equinox proved it to a handful of Chicago journalists this morning at a "Then & Now" workout, a sampler of what guests could experience at the three Chicago gyms tonight, starting at 5:15 p.m. at the Loop location, 5:30 p.m. at 900 N. Michigan, and 5:45 p.m. at the Lincoln Park location.

Then: aerobics, stair-steppers, Billy Blanks's Tae Bo. Now: tabata, TRX, ViPR, high intensity training and more. Those same moves that you busted out in an aerobics class? Still there but with a medicine ball thrown in--Cardio Core Ball. The Tae Bo that may have helped give martial arts recognition beyond The Karate Kid and Mortal Kombat (I kid, I kid)? Got that too with Cardio Kick. The modern day workout? Tabata, guaranteed to get you sweaty, hurting (good pain, I promise), and ready to collapse in less than 10 minutes--less than 4 minutes if you really want to get specific.

But Then & Now didn't feel like a throwback to an antiquated workout that either should have been left in its own decade or tossed altogether. Mention the word aerobics and step classes to me and I cringe, remembering high school swim conditioning that involved Eric Nies, The Grind and me tripping over my own two feet wishing I was running laps on the track for that afternoon of dryland training. Yet if you told me that I was doing aerobics, or some incarnation of it this morning, I wouldn't have believed you. I was having fun, and mind you, while feeling sick and completed stuffed up. I was sweating, but not to the point where I was spraying it across the room (ew, gross!). My muscles were feeling it, from my inner thighs to my chest though I'm sure the previous day's yoga sculpt class made those medicine ball lifts and pushes hurt even more and a two-day-old run didn't make the kicks any easier. And I was surprisingly more coordinated than I remembered.

Does any of this sound remotely familiar to how you worked out 20 years ago? I can't compare, considering my elementary efforts were concentrated on curve balls, batting, the pool and my first swim meet. But if there's a throwback workout in another 20 years, I'll take it even if my marathon- and skiing-burdened legs are on the brink of falling off as my mom predicts.

Happy Birthday, Equinox! Here's to another 20!

Photo grabbed from Equinox.

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