Work It: Circuit Fit at Atlas Performance Chicago

In our Work It series, Athletish contributors sign up, show up and tell you about new (to us) classes around our hometown of Chicago. Thank you ClassPass for getting us out there trying new stuff! 

What We Tried

After Halloweening all weekend, nothing sounded more amazing than sleeping in. Yet with an extra hour of rest (thanks a lot, Daylight Savings Time) I was out of viable excuses for being lazy. I’ve always heard great things about Atlas Performance Chicago, and first up on the schedule this AM was a Circuit Fit conditioning class promising “you’ll never get bored.” Reserved!

What It Was Like

On paper, Circuit Fit is in my comfort zone, a bootcamp style mix of cardio (spinning, running, rowing) and light strength and bodyweight stuff. I was getting a quick tour of the (nice) facility, so I miss the first few seconds of the coach explaining the workout. He goes over it twice for us, but somehow the order of intervals/exercises is still confusing to me. No stranger to whiteboard confusion, I know that I can trust in my fellow classmates, all who have that earnest, clear-eyed look of comprehension. And I know that I can copy them. Then the coach counts us off into four groups and I’m too busy thinking “I’m a four!” to notice who the other fours are. Damnit. I manage to find two girls who, while not fours, are fellow evens and they confirm that I should “do the cardio” when they did. OK!

Clock goes off and I immediately start doing the burpee buy in meant for the interval people. “Cardio!” my workout sherpa yells helpfully. I stop mid-burpee and reach for a community jump rope at least two feet too long for me. Jump, jump, trip. “Less tension, stay loose!” says the coach, eager to help me out. I try wrapping excess rope around my hands. Jump, jump, trip. “Switch! Burpees to goblet squats!” Again I drop to the floor and Workout Sherpa calls out, “Cardiooo!” before melting away into the crowd of jumping, squatting bodies.

Atlas Crossfit

On my own now, I am determined to master this workout. Finally I realize that the coach is yelling out what everyone, including us “fours,” should be doing with each switch, either a movement or two intervals of cardio. With a surge of confidence I attack my dumb bell rows. I know this one!  Dumb bell push presses next? Hell yeah, look at this form! Then there’s the coach again, urging “Fours, cardio!” The clued-in athletes make a bee line to the 8 available machines but I’m slow on the uptake. Having lost musical machines, I go back to my sad, kinked jump rope when out of nowhere the woman who’d given me the tour appears at my side. “Here, you’re about my size,” she says. handing me a fancier, shorter rope. Magic. I look for the coach, hopeful to redeem myself with some smokin’ single unders.

Eventually I position myself more favorably so I’m able to erg or spin during the cardio. We do russian twists. We do kettle bell swings. We do weighted lunges and planks. We sweat all over the damn place. As promised, I am not bored.

And then it’s over. 45 minutes of pure work. My headband (I’d notice later) is hilariously askew and I’m satisfyingly sweaty. We obediently pick up our equipment and catch our breath. Thanks Atlas, you guys really know how to exercise the weekend’s demons.

Learn more about Atlas Performance here