Studio fitness has firmly taken over Chicago, serving even its youngest clientele. And there’s good reason to build some structured workouts into your family’s summer plans, even if your kids play softball, soccer, or other sports.
After all, government guidelines recommend youngsters log 60 minutes of movement, mostly cardio, per day. “Although sports and play are extremely beneficial in many ways, most times practices and games do not include enough sustained activity to meet these goals,” says Tiffanie Sperling, a certified personal trainer and managing partner of kids’ fitness center enerGEEwhizz.
Family activities like nature hikes and bike rides can definitely fill the gap, she says. But for options outside the box (and not inside a big-box gym), check out these unique, boutique classes and camps for kiddos.
A Gym of Their Own
Spinning spheres light up in sequence. Some kids happily pedal on pint-sized, colorful exercise bikes, while others bounce on rubberized half-orbs with pogo-stick-like handles. Lincoln Park’s enerGEEwhizz (1418 N. Kingsbury St.) resembles a cross between an arcade and a restaurant playground. And while it’s designed with fun in mind, beneath it all is a proprietary program progressively challenging kids’ bodies and minds.
Small-group training classes move young exercisers, grouped by age, through modules that build balance, coordination, and agility — all under the watchful eye of trained coaches. Half- or full-day summer camps add education on themes like social skills and environmental awareness. Single sessions start at $30.00, and first-timers get a second for free; punch cards and monthly memberships are also available.
Capes Not Required
Script your tots and preschoolers’ starring roles in their own Marvel movies with Superhero Training at POW! Gym in the West Loop (310 S. Racine Ave.). Call it exercise with a mission — sure, they’ll run, jump, leap, and climb, but along the way, instructors weave in storytelling, problem-solving, and even a dab of ethics.
POW! also offers youth martial arts, more structured athletic training for kids age 7 and older through its Parisi Speed School, and daylong active summer camps that take kids analog — tech’s banned from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they’re also enrolled in summer reading programs through the Chicago Public Library. First-time clients can nab a week’s worth of unlimited classes for $25; camp is $85 a day or $400 a week, with sibling discounts available.
The Next Great Ninja
Ethan Swanson knows his way around a salmon ladder — he’s competed on American Ninja Warrior since its sixth season, in 2014. Now, he shows a new generation how to hit the buzzer, leading kids’ classes at Ultimate Ninjas (2915 W. Montrose Ave.). (Suburban kids can learn from pro ninjas too — Jesse Labreck teaches in Naperville, 2012 Corporate Ln., and Mike Silenzi in Libertyville, 732 E. Park Ave.)
Regular 55-minute sessions give young athletes the chance to try the same obstacles they see on the small screen, from devil’s steps to the warped wall; eventually, they can work their way up to competing on the obstacle course racing circuit. Summer camps run all day in June and August, half-days in July, and culminate in a team competition on the course. Classes start at $25, camps at $45, with discounts for siblings and multiple bookings.
Move Across Cultures
The main point of Bollywood Groove Kids! classes is multicultural education; the curriculum includes books about Indian culture. But make no mistake, between readings, 3- to 10-year-old students dance in a style founder Ajanta Chakraborty calls “very active.” Seven- to eight-week summer sessions begin at the end of June at Dance Center Chicago (3868 N. Lincoln Ave.) and Lou Conte Dance Studio (1147 W. Jackson Blvd.), and attract children from a wide range of backgrounds.
The course fee (starting at $122) includes a book as well as a rental of a full Indian dance costume for a final mini-recital. Between sessions, dance along at home for free to Chakraborty’s CultureGroove YouTube channel (she also has an adult-focused online offering, BollyWood Groove Cardio, with subscriptions that start at $9.99/month).
Train Like Mom and Dad
CrossTown Fitness — the popular grown-up HIIT studio — now offers a summer program for children at its Roscoe Village location (3406 N. Lincoln Ave.). Two-hour afternoon sessions include age-appropriate group workouts, recovery time, and interactive instruction surrounding health, fitness, and good nutrition. Parents score a bonus too — 14 days of unlimited CTF classes. To register, call CrossTown Roscoe Village at 773-661-6953 or email Alex@crosstownfitness.com.