Total Body at Shred415
Best salons and gyms in Chicago
Cardio Dance at All About Dance
501 W. North Ave., 773-572-8701
This bi-level studio in Old Town offers the usual instruction in jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and tap. But its sweat-inducing cardio dance workout is the best in town. Starting with a butt-kicking warm-up of planks and crunches, the instructor builds a routine, one eight count at time, that repeats as the music gets faster and is littered with pushups, squats, and other strength-training exercises cleverly disguised as dance moves. Drop-in rate: $16
Fly 45 at Flywheel Sports
710 N. State St., 312-624-8485; also in Highland Park
Go Cycle was first, and Real Ryder has unique bikes that tilt from side to side. But Spinning fanatics love the New York import Flywheel, which we’ve heard poached top instructors from a local health club chain when it came to town in 2011. The bikes clock speed and resistance, and competitive types can show off their stats on two large flat screens. Classes set to music themes–’80s, Rihanna, boy bands–keep it fun. Drop-in rate: $25
Supfit at Great Lakes Board Company
Starting out from North Avenue Beach Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., SUPfit mashes together the standup paddling trend and a core-heavy workout. Instructor David Hardin intersperses sprint paddles with grueling sets of Russian twists, squats, and mountain climbers as you work hard to keep your balance. Falling into the cool lake will seem like the perfect accident. Drop-in rate: $25 an hour
Total Body at Shred415
2156 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-360-8228
Open since last April in Lincoln Park (and coming soon to Old Town), Shred415 uses inclined treadmills to keep your heart rate revved throughout an hourlong boot-camp-inspired interval workout. The goal here isn’t merely to shed pounds but to get faster and stronger. Pushed by energetic instructors through nonstop routines set to DJ-spun mixes, you’ll burn some 500 to 900 calories per session and break a major sweat. Drop-in rate: $24
Yoga at Corepower
Think of this as a vinyasa-inspired workout with a side of groove: The room is heated to 90 degrees (or more) and speakers pipe in instrumental trip-hop and soft indie rock. You won’t become one with the universe, but you will sweat and flow through chaturanga until your muscles tremble. There are 13 locations in the city and suburbs, and the first week is free–which means you’re out of excuses. Drop-in rate: $20
Ignacia Garcia at Flutter Lash Studio
1627 N. Clybourn Ave., 312-265-1563
To obtain a Hollywood brow in Chicago, visit Ignacia Garcia. After training with Damone Roberts, celebrity tweezer to Beyoncé and Gwyneth, Garcia opened a lash extension and brow-sculpting boutique in 2009. She prefers a full brow with a natural arch, meticulously creating a face-flattering shape while you relax on a comfy spa bed.
John Blue at Maxine Salon
712 N. Rush St., 312-751-1511
Those who highlight know they face a losing battle against the dreaded line of demarcation. To which we say, put down the foil and see John Blue, a master of balayage, the French highlighting technique. Using a palette and a brush, Blue literally paints on color in what appear to be acts of artistic inspiration but are actually precise applications based on hair movement and growth. The sun-kissed color is so natural-looking, even as hair grows out, that the longer stretches between appointments more than make up for the hefty price tag (partial balayage starts at $170).
King Spa & Sauna
809 Civic Center Dr., Niles, 847-972-2540
Prepare to get naked. At this marble-clad outpost of an Asian spa chain, you’ll have to hunt for a towel big enough to wrap around your whole torso. So skip the modesty and take the plunge into the soothing single-sex hot tubs. For $25 admission, good for 24 hours, you can relax in several dry saunas or just veg and watch TV. We recommend paying extra for an exfoliating body scrub ($60 for women, $45 for men) and eating a meal or two at the Korean snack bar onsite.
Elina Organics Advanced Skin Care Spa
46 E. Oak St., Ste. 200, 312-274-3474
Elina Fedotova, who developed a line of organic skin care products, has ardent fans who swear by her spa’s noninvasive techniques. We tested the Corrective Herbal Facial (90 minutes for $110); our personalized treatment included marine collage extract and natural sources of salicylic and glycolic acids. The result: soft, smooth skin that was radiant for days.
1369 W. Chicago Ave., 312-733-0123
Patrick Lewis is a guy’s guy–he’s a hockey lover who owns a bulldog named Herb–but he knows what women like: flattering haircuts that they still love three days later. “I like to keep it simple,” says the 33-year-old, a former Art + Science stylist and manager who went out on his own last April with his wife, Dina. His technique? Letting hair texture dictate the shears’ direction. The no-fuss philosophy also applies to the boutique’s approach: a small cadre of stylists and colorists, subtle beats on the iPod, free glasses of wine or whiskey, and Lewis’s signature stress-erasing scalp massage–which alone is reason enough to return (cuts by Lewis, $80).
Brenna Bavis at the Peninsula Spa by ESPA
108 E. Superior St., 312-573-6860
Earlier this year, we named our 12 top day spas in Chicago. The best massage was delivered by the powerful hands of Brenna Bavis, the lead therapist at the Peninsula Hotel’s spa. With incomparable bedside manner, Bavis administers a treatment that feels not just rejuvenating but actually therapeutic, as she seamlessly targets your trouble spots. One hour costs $160–worth every penny, we think.
Brownies at Bliss Spa
644 N. Lake Shore Dr., 877-862-5477
Shred415 Photograph: Brian Kuhlmann; Photo Assistants: Colin Beckett, Ben Rodig
Other photography: (Spa) courtesy of King Spa; (salon) Anna Knott; (brownies) Caoimhe McDonnell