Group Class Review: Orangetheory Fitness!

I consider myself an Old School-Expert-Diva Queen of fitness classes. I was fitness class obsessed before there was YouTube and Instagram. I had it way harder back then …I mean I  had to play the same video over and over again from a VHS!


Needless to say this obsession led to a career in fitness. I have taught over 20,000 classes during my career ranging from yoga, cardio step, cardio dance, toning.  I love to see how the industry has changed over the last 25 years using technology to motivate participants to reach their fitness goals and stay motivated.

With so many studio choices I have decided to try out the latest fitness classes reviewing what classes are results oriented, motivating and safe!

First on my list…

Orangetheory Fitness 

If you are bored with the same old workout and want to spark your routine with energized, attentive coaches and positive community, I suggest checking out Orangetheory Fitness!

Jan-Feb 2017 Cover FB photo

Class Style: 

60 min Metabolic HIIT workout, consisting of endurance, strength, and power exercises. Uses heart rate monitors and coaching for a safe, effective results oriented workout.

Recommended for:  performance-based cross-training, weight loss, maintenance, social, community.

SuggestionsBe sure to arrive 30 minutes ahead of time as it’s beneficial to meet the staff and coaches and to learn about the workout. This ensures a higher level of familiarity with equipment and the class itself.

What to expect: 

  • Energized instructors with awareness of all participants in class, ready to give modifications when necessary as well as correct form. 
  •  Burning calories!
  • How to pace yourself with your heart rate. You have your choice of three heart rate monitors based on preference.
  • Clear workout goal with safety measures and modifications. 
  • Emailed results of each workout.

Exercise Breakdown 

In Action Studio Photo

  • Exercise breakdown with pics and videos during class/modifications from instructor.
  • Television screen showing workout status with heart rate, calories burned and color coded push level
  • Explanations of exertion levels with color coded descriptions encouraging body awareness with heart rate monitor.


  • Very clean and smells clean (not all studios do) with wipes during and after class to  wipe down equipment. 
  • Positive atmosphere -zero snob with encouragement to focus on personal goals!
  • Open to participants of varying levels and goals.
  • Mirror placement and atmosphere encourages self focus.


  • Peer group support
  • Testimonials on wall and encouragement /positive messages


Galivan Workshop_1.21.17

I love that the first class is  free! Check it out!

Founding Rates apply at the Streeterville location (211 E Grand, 312.778.8998). Mention the blog to obtain reduced rates before they open!


No EXCUSES! Gym bags-Blow Drys and Vanity Products!

Before we can find the “best workout” or ideal class there are still come obstacles in making working out a part of  our lifestyle. Here are some of the biggest obstacles I have heard over the years-and also used as excuses myself.


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EXCUSES: I forgot my gym clothes, my bag is too heavy to carry to work, I have too much to do in the morning.

SOLUTIONS: Do LAUNDRY.  Find a bag you like. Pack the night before.

Packing a gym back is kind of like step one in committing to a workout- especially if you are working out early morning or during the work day.  A packed gym bag says-ok fine I pretty much committed to the workout.  I sometimes have four outfits in a day between all the locations I go. One tip is to bring a plastic bag for sweaty clothes. Workout clothes can fold pretty compactly. I love Marie Kondo and her tips on folding clothes. Check out her tips below!


               THE HAIR DILEMMA


EXCUSE: I don’t want to mess up my hair.

SOLUTIONS:  Headbands and banana clips are great for blowouts. A good blow-dry will withstand a workout with a few touchups. This blow dry I got at 9am -taught 4 classes and attended my sons graduation at 7pm.  I have some fabulous ladies in my group classes that look amazing even after a sweaty workout. And if you know you want a hot yoga class or super sweaty run-plan the blow dry for after. If you have long hair plan out your hairstyles for the week. Ballet bun, braid, blow dry, etc.. Get a hair wrap, bandana-and keep it MOVING!

SKIN BREAKOUTS and Makeup Application 

Excuse: I don’t want to ruin my makeup. Sweating makes my skin breakout.

Solution: Plan out your skin routine and see a skin care specialist. A new lipstick, lash tint and brows brightens up any look!

We all have different skin types. In my twenties I had very bad acne and too many workouts and  harsh scrubs and washing exacerbated the condition. If I know I am going to sweat at noon, I save my face wash for after the workout as well as any makeup such as moisture with tint or mascara. In the morning I use clear balance pads for a basic clean, apply toner,sunscreen and lipgloss. After my workout I use a gentle foaming cleanser and moisturizer or moisture with tint if I want a more polished look. ( I love Laura Mercier).  If I sweat a bit more in the afternoon I will use the Clear Choice face pads again or oil control  blotting paper (Sephora) if I applied a moisture with tint. See a skin specialist, and find the skin care program that works for you. I love Clear Choice products for gentle non abrasive and clearing up breakouts. Eye lash tinting (at a spa)  is a great way to brighten the eyes and you don’t have to wear mascara for a few weeks!  If you are in Chicago I love Ambra Salon in the Gold Coast for brows and lashes.

Making workouts a part of LIFE STYLE is a great way to stay on track.  Yes, it takes preparation but the rewards are worth it!


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Bride: Paula Moreno

One of the things I love so much about my job is sharing life events with people I work with. Bridal workouts are one my favorite programs to design because it is such a special day and allows workouts to show the body in a feminine, graceful way. My grandmother was a fashion designer so I am very familiar with measurements and the making of a dress that fits well, and looks beautiful for the special day. Sculpting a feminine, sleek physique for an elegant dress is such a joy!

Here are some of my wedding dress workout tips I have learned over the years!

Don’t Lose Too Much Weight!

Crash diets are NOT the way to go. Absolutely do not go on a drastic diet. Whatever program you choose-ask yourself if you can maintain it realistically for the next two to three years.  I have have worked with brides who have gained weight back in one week on the HONEYMOON. It is easy to gain weight back quickly but it takes much, much LONGER to lose it again.


If a client calls me and says-I did not sleep last night so I will be a little tired for our workout my response is:  No you won’t because we are not working out. Sleep is so important for health.  Planning a wedding takes lots of time and energy. Sleep first-workout second.


As the time gets closer to the big day there may be more festivities with family and old friends. Spend time with family and friends over an hour workout with a trainer. It takes ten minutes to do some arm sculpting push-ups-that family member who flew across the country to see you is way more important.

Workout with your Groom!

I have so much fun training couples getting ready for their big day! If time is crunched and maybe a little stressful-why not plan some movement together? Go for a walk, take a class or workout with a trainer!

Vanity Sculpt

So we have to get to the vanity talk. Dresses are expensive and tailoring is an art form. I have gone to bridal fittings to talk with the seamstress about all the details of the dress. 1/8th of an inch gained or lost in certain areas can ruin how the dress lays. In my experience-do not build up the  upper back area with heavy lifting such as maxing out Lat Pull Downs-unless this has been a part of your consistent training program.  My technique is a mixture of yoga, pilates and dance technique for a sculpted, sleek back. (Exercise blog to follow).

Have FUN!


Get a good music playlist, a group of friends and HAVE FUN! I love choreographing wedding dances or just working out with the bride in high heels to break in the shoes!

Mindfulness in the Moment 

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment without worrying about the past or future. Savor the experience of the wedding day by being full present and embrace your new life AFTER the wedding with the same moment to moment awareness and joy!


Designing your BEST Program


With so many studio classes, diets, fitness apps and “expert” formulas choosing your best program can be overwhelming. It can also be frustrating if you are not seeing results and investing time and money. One thing I have learned over the years is there is not one formula that will fit everyone. The best program is the program that motivates you, is balanced and realistic. Having a sense of community and accountability is a key component to stay on track with goals.

Here are some tips I have come up with based on different programs that are available to stay on track and compliment varying  lifestyles. 

Know your goal

Think about what your motivation is to start a program and write it out so you can find the best program for you.

If you follow a program because you want to look like a fitness star or celebrity or you like before and after pics on Instagram then I would classify that goal as: to look like a fitness model. And that is great! Just know that means: eating clean, meal prepping and maybe even going to bed at nine pm.  It is a lifestyle choice and it is very attainable. Choose a program based on your desired outcome. For example, Kayla Istines is more sleek and sculpted whereas Lyzabeth Lopez is curvy and strong.

Advice: Talk to your doctor to get medical clearance and also for medical advice if programs encourage supplements or artificial food. Find someone who has followed the program for over two years and maintained results. Get support from a community of others with  like minded goals.

Personal Training

There are so many different styles of personal training. Personal Training studios have the best of the best in the industry with different styles and genres of training. Referrals based on common goals and success results are the best way to go. If you are in Chicago- Hi Fi Personal Fitness (820 N. Orleans) is absolutely the best studio to find a trainer. 

Advice: Studio owners are great at matching up clients with trainers based on results and personality. Several of my colleagues share clients and collaborate with designing well rounded programs. If the trainer is over booked-ask the trainer who they would recommend.

Long Term Athlete or Art Form Training

If you choose a long term life style program such as adult team sports, martial arts, marathon running or dance -it is important to understand the mechanics of your training. Do some muscles get overused? Does one side of your body work harder? Is  injury prevention a part of your program?

Advice: Invest in private sessions with a sports physical therapist or Integrative Movement Specialist. The investment will be money well spent for long term athletics and health.


Studio Classes

Cross Fit Schedule a private session to go over technique if you are new to working out. Daily recovery stretches and  monthly sports massages may also be beneficial.  Take a week off every few months for recovery, and injury prevention.

Barre Classes  Take a beginner  ballet class at a professional  dance studio and learn dance posture and breathing dance technique before taking a barre class or as a compliment to a barre class. Ballet is good for the brain and breaking down the actual art form takes time, so be patient and kind to your body.If the Barre studio offers private classes, find the most experienced instructor with a dance background.  If certain muscles get overused or tight, be sure to add daily stretches. Professional dancers are always stretching and foam rolling.

Interval Classes Shred 51, Orange Theory

Warm up before class and check in with your body to be aware of soreness. The atmosphere can be fun and motivating so be sure not to over do it. Listen to your body and communicate with the instructor ahead of time about any form questions.

Spinning and Rowing Classes  Go Cycle, Go Row, Soul Cycle

Be aware of muscles that may get tight from over use or which muscles might overcompensate. A strength training routine to target muscles that do not get used may be beneficial.

Hot Yoga

105f  Variety is the way to go to avoid stagnation! I love the variety and availability of classes  at 105f. The Yin Yoga class at 105f is great for recovery and body awareness. Smart 60 is a great offering if you have less time and Nidra is an amazing practice for calmness and clarity.

Core Power If you are new to yoga, I suggest scheduling a private session to go over the break down of the moves. The heat may make muscles feel more malleable so it is important to have body awareness in each pose as well as understanding the mechanics especially if the class is moving fast.  Several yoga studios have free beginner level community classes. This is a great place to start! When you are ready to go for it-Core Power offers a free week of Yoga!

Free Yoga Community Class

COMMUNITY and Support

After you have defined your goal and researched available programs-why not buddy up with a friend for motivation, join a studio or a sports team! Many find support from online communities with fitness and yoga contests and daily motivation. Whatever your goal is-there is a community and support available. Go for it!!!

define your GOAL define your BODY define your LIFE 

Journaling for Weight Loss





For this exercise you will need a timer, pen and paper.  If possible set aside fifteen minutes.  Do not read the prompt questions ahead of time. Be ready to write responses without thinking or STOPPING. See if you can write for two minutes non-stop. Just let the pen keep moving-even if it seems like non-sense or you can’t read your own writing.

There are no right or wrong answers!

Journal prompt questions. 

What are your reasons for wanting to lose weight?

How important is it for you to make this change and why?

If you decide to make this weight loss change how might you go about doing so in order to succeed?

Is there anything getting in the way of executing your plan?

How will losing weight change your life?