Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Time to Get Lateral

Lateral Fitness's main floor 
The last time I went to a bootcamp-like workout, I hated it. The minute hand on the clock wouldn't budge, the recruits kept to themselves for the most part (or whomever they already knew in class, which spelled disaster for this newbie), the fearless leader was more into shouting commands than motivating or correcting our poor form (you know that bootcamp persona that you either love or hate), and the moves, while challenging, often seemed to lack a sensible purpose (probably because of my poor form).

My first visit to the Recruit high intensity interval class at the newly opened Lateral Fitness was the exact opposite. The class flew by, the recruits were properly introduced to one another and class size was limited to eight, the leader--Lateral's co-owner Erik Marthaler--was engaging and motivating, and the moves--if you did them correctly--got you to notice your weaknesses (hello tight hip flexors, nice to see you again) and reach a point of full-on exhaustion.

Considering I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I accepted the invitation less than two hours before class (thank you cancellation), I was pleasantly surprised. And I got a killer workout. I had already broken a sweat before we finished our first 10 minutes where the burpees, jumps, push-ups and sit-ups hardly felt like a warm up. My quads screamed for relief during the lunge and squat set. I didn't know medicine ball throwdowns could crunch your obliques, while standing up, or that the minute rotations through cardio and strength on the gym floor could be so exhausting (I'm blaming the treadmill hills climbs). And my abs literally gave out on me halfway through the core section, protesting the crunches. Where one intense workout failed, Recruit soared with flying colors--and reassured me that I can fall in love with intervals outside my comfort zone.  

But better yet, at least in my book, is that at Lateral Fitness, you don't have the huge audience watching your every move. Well, you do have the potential of the entire gym watching, but that crowd only consists of about four people at best. They're too busy training or getting trained to notice. Workouts are by appointment only, classes and personal training--you know, so it ups the exclusivity and even the privacy we crave for some of our sweat sessions. If the small-group classes are full, you can't just hop on the treadmill or elliptical and wait for the next one (but we kinda like that--it really keeps you on your toes for that workout).  

LF's co-owners Erik Marthaler and Scott McWilliam
Lateral Fitness is the latest of the boutique gyms to open up shop in Chicago, and it easily offers the broadest array of services. While other boutique spaces offer one or two specialities--indoor cycling, yoga, treadmill interval training are a few that come to mind--Lateral has everything but the swimming pool. While Erik heads up  the endurance training component (hello half marathon training group), co-owner Scott McWilliam trains clients and specializes in muscle activation technique, MAT, to help with all the tightness and muscle contractions that could halt our workouts. The studio space can host yoga, barre and core-focused classes in addition to the interval training. The weight area isn't missing a piece of strength equipment and I could seriously run for hours on the treadmills they installed (this coming from the girl who hates the dreadmill). You'll find your locker rooms, complete with showers that make those at primo gyms look paltry. No expense was spared to make Lateral a warm and inviting space--and one where you want to work out. And who knows, with room to expand, maybe we'll see an endless pool appear--Erik, who's also an elite duathlete, is already dreaming CompuTrainers. So much for it being nearly impossible to find a one-stop shop unless you turned to the fitness cities.

Check out Lateral Fitness on the lower level at 314 W. Superior in Chicago's River North neighborhood. And follow the gym on Facebook for class details, photos, pricing and special deals. You know, so you don't always have to pay full price for exclusivity--or a killer workout.

Photos courtesy of Lateral Fitness.

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