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Megaformer workout at Body R&D

Ready for an intense Pilates session? Try the megaformer at Body R&D in Lakeview.

The class Megaformer workout at Body R&D(2940 N Lincoln Ave, 773-935-3200)

The details I’ve had trainers tell me about total muscle failure—the point where your arms or legs are shaking so much they could audition for a Jell-O Jigglers commercial—but I’ve never experienced it until now. I’m planking on a souped-up Pilates reformer machine known as the megaformer, praying that trainer Harry Shelley will lead us into the next move before my trembling arms collapse. At Lakeview fitness studio Body R&D, this is the norm: Whether Shelley has me pairing lunges with shoulder presses, eking out crunches or sitting in a V position spelling the alphabet with my legs (harder than it sounds), I’m working until the point of exhaustion. And I’m addicted. While I find Pilates slow and boring, the megaformer—a machine featuring two stable platforms connected by a moving, spring-loaded carriage, complete with straps, pulleys and handlebars dedicated to dozens of different moves—is the opposite, delivering a challenging total-body workout. I can feel my abs, legs and arms getting stronger as I fight against the resistance of the springs, and when I hook my foot into a bungee strap, kicking my leg to the ceiling against the tension of the rubber band, I’m working glute muscles I didn’t know I had. Shelley, an amiable former music video producer who plays an awesome soundtrack (everything from Tegan and Sara to the Foo Fighters) during every ten-person class, recently brought the workout to Chicago from L.A. He is encouraging of beginners—“just do what you can” is a favorite line—but as you get stronger, he’ll push you more, adamant that if you put in the effort, this workout will change your body. After less than a month of sessions, I can already tell he’s right. Rates are $30 for a single class, $220 for a ten-class pack and $199 per month for unlimited classes.


Kory D

Oh boy. So I've done my fair share of finess classes throughout the city, and I was excited to see that the Body R&D franchise had made it's way to Chi-town. I tried this class when I was spending some time in Scottsdale and I have to say I like the vibe of the Chicago studio a bit more! This studio is on a brightly lit stretch of Lincoln Avenue and it has an airy industrial feeling to it. 

The megaformer can be somewhat intimidating to the person who is used to handling her flailing limbs and maybe a barre or set of dumbbells at the most. However, the instructors are way friendly, way patient, and will even quietly correct you or your machine if you're doing something wonky. The workout itself is as easy or as hard as you want to make it, and it will definitely leave you sore if you're more of a cardio person. While I think I'd miss my cardio, I do believe this strength training would be a nice add if you have long/lean/strong fitness objectives. My husband joined me, and he did say the workout was a tad more on the girlier side. I'd agree, but I think it's slightly less girly than your typical pilates or barre class. Go check it out!