Sunday, October 2

I.D. Gym | Chicago, IL

LOCATION: This was an easy drive into Chicago, and I found myself in Lincoln Park again. There was a parking lot next to the gym (which the gym had excellent signage), but it was reserved parking for surrounding apartments, I'm guessing. There was open parking along the street right in front though, so no biggie. I got there early, so I ended up paying $3.50 for parking (about 2.5 hours I think).
COST: $24 for the drop-in fee, that I charged.
STUDIO:  This isn't specifically a yoga studio, but a gym. You walk in to check in at the front desk. They offer you free towels, which was great. Once you're checked in, the yoga space is upstairs, so I walked pass the bikes and treadmills and an area for weights. They managed to fit a lot of equipment into a smaller space, and it was well-organized and clean. Upstairs has it's own bathrooms and two classrooms. The bathroom offered up showers (with free shampoo, conditioner, and soap), lockers, toilets, a couple full-length mirrors, sinks with free lotion, and a bench. Pretty great set up we don't normally get in the yoga studios. The actual yoga space you can see in the picture has fresh colors, one wall of mirrors, a wall of cubbies (which was good, since I didn't have a lock for the lockers in the bathroom), a wall of windows that let in great light, and a ceiling full of silk hammocks (so excited!). 
CLASS DESCRIPTION: I.D. Gym is the only place in Chicago you'll find this innovative class, which is a combination of traditional yoga techniques, acrobatics, gymnastics, and dance. Using our silk hammocks you can move deeper into yoga postures, improve your balance and strength, and practice advanced inversions and circus-style tricks. 
INSTRUCTOR: Brent Holten Before 20 years in fitness, other careers were in acting, dance, and culinary arts. He began teaching in the I.D. gym building when it was Jamnastics in 1992 and hasn't left since. We actually had two instructors, but I'm not remembering the second teacher's name, I'm soooo sorry—and we had such a great conversation, I'm a jerk, please connect if you think I'm less of a jerk, lol. 

I have to say, I'm not too excited about taking yoga classes in gyms. Which isn't fair—if I didn't take yoga classes at my gym originally I wouldn't be where I am today, but, from my experience... Yoga at gyms is strictly for fitness reasons and less about the way of life. There's music thumping from the other class over. It's just a different perspective on yoga, which isn't bad... but it isn't me. I.D. Gym actually does a nice job of combining the best of both worlds. It also helped that I was completely distracted by playing in the silk hammocks. Before we started, both instructors walked around and made sure the hammocks were the proper length for our heights (they're all adjustable by the placement of a carabiner).

There wasn't another class going on in the room over, so no music was bleeding into our room, just the sound of the serene yoga music heard in most classes. Brent had us start by lying on our backs with our feet up  in the hammocks, hands on our bellies, just focusing on our breath. Once we were all settled in, we started warming the body up by doing Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose), but instead of pushing up from your feet on the floor, you raised your hips up with your feet still in the hammock. We coordinated our breathing with the movement in and out of bridge pose.

I'm honestly not going to remember the entire sequence of the class, I'm sorry... but I do remember a lot of poses that I can hopefully explain. We learned how to wrap our arms into the hammock and jump up to hold ourselves. This was actually a great demonstration on seeing just how fit those Cirque du Soleil and other aerial artists are... holy crap, I have no core muscles (not to self: you're using your back too much). If you could master just holding your self up in "simple" crunch position, you could then take it another step... jumping up (arms wrapped in the silk hammocks to hold you up) and instead of folding your knees into your chest, you'd pull them up in a V position. Yeah, not me, but those who did it, did it beautifully. If you could master that... then they would pull up into the V and flip themselves over to hang. I SO wanted to do this, but I just didn't have the arm strength or core for it... which I think is exciting, because it's an easy starting point to watch yourself improve the more you do this class.

Mastering the upside down V in the turquoise shirt. Crunching in the pink shirt. 
We did some great hamstring stretches with one foot in the hammock and leaning over to touch the toe. Imagine your propped your foot up on a ballet bar... side bend to your toes, forward bend to your toes, and then twist towards your toes. All while holding your balance, which was easier than I expected, but you know you're working some muscles to keep yourself there. I should also point out, since I twisted my sacrum in March, my left hamstring has tightened up (don't worry mom, I'm working with my chiropractor and instructors to fix it up). My point is, I never felt like I was setting myself up to over stretch something by default of the hammock. As long as I respected how far I could go into a pose (like any other yoga class) I could control what I was doing. In fact, playing with gravity and not having to hold your own leg up for these poses, it helped. Especially in Virabhadrasana III (warrior pose 3 or airplane pose), I could rest my back foot in the hammock and depend on it to help with my balance. At the same time I can now focus on my hip alignment more, play with balance by moving my arms... and that leg can still swing in the hammock so there's balance happening there. But by being able to push into the hammock you could find stability. What a great way to illustrate how activating both legs and both arms helps in keeping your pose.

We did some work with both feet in the hammock while we were in plank or the upper position of a push up. This reminded me of working with a balance ball. You would normally roll the ball towards your chest using your feet (either by folding your knees into the chest again or coming into a pike position). But instead of the ball, which is rolling all over the place if you lack grace as much as I do... your feet are in the hammock, still requiring some grace but focusing more on the strength.

But the fun stuff was definitely the hanging upside down. We learned two ways to get into the hammock. The first way required a forward summersault jump into the hammock... I couldn't do it with out assistance. Surprisingly I wasn't scared, I had my three year old nephew's mantra in my head ("There are no monsters here!")—so I was ready to tackle some forward summersault in the air butt. But it does require that core strength to crunch into a ball and heave my whole body (my ghetto bootie included) over my head. Success—another starting point! The other way to get into the hammock had you jumping backwards as if you were hopping yourself up onto a taller table to sit down. This I could master. But that's not the fun part, from there you learn to place the hammock (now more like a rope) at your hips and hang up side down. Holy ecstasy, batman! Your spine can just let gravity take over and straighten it's way out with out any of your strength to hold you there (think inversion table). I could hang out there all day, I think. And let's not forget all the benefits of being upside down... moving that blood around and aiding in digestion. 

We ended in a cocoon, completely wrapped up inside in our blue hammocks suspended in air for savasana. I felt a little cramped, but once I just relaxed and enjoyed the feeling of floating in the air... I didn't want to leave. 

Here's a video I found showing a lot of poses we did... the vampire sequence I did up to mosquito (Halasana—plow pose). The monkey pose is where we're upside down most of the time, but we took both legs out into a V (toes in front of us). 

I can't thank both of my instructors and i.d. gym enough. Does this replace traditional yoga? No, but I wish I could work this into my weekly practice... Maybe I can convince my boyfriend to set one up for us at home. I think his back pain would benefit from hanging upside down, if that's all he did. Oh! I should add, that if you're worried about it holding you... these set ups hold up to 1000 lbs. You're safe, so enjoy and play! 

If you're in the Chicago area... go. to. ID Gym. Seriously, you won't regret it! 


3 responses:

  1. That looks like fun. Maybe I should check it out down here.

  2. I found some options in Miami, but nothing near you yet. I'd go with you next time I visit, if you find something :)

  3. Indeed, this is a very interesting chicago fitness and I want try this one. I will encourage my friends to visit this place and try their gym. In fact, I really want to try this because I want to be more fit. I really enjoyed the video given in this article and it convince me to try this. Thank you for this.