Trying to add some muscles to your frame or define what's already there? Then consider heading to Quad's, a three-story iron and rubber-laden institution that requires a little suspension of belief: It's likely to remind you of your high school weight room on steroids. Still, those looking for a vein-popping challenge can find 150 pound dumbbells among the five sets this Lakeview gym boasts.
Don't be intimidated by the fact that heavy fitness magazines, such as Muscle and Fitness, Muscular Development and Windy City Sports, have recently picked Quad's as one of the top gyms; it checks all attitude at door. The mirror-lined walls stand as homage to an impressive assortment of body builders and elite athletes, but the everyday clientele ranges from the average Joe trying to firm up to a post-surgery Grandma. Scared of commitments? Quads allows members to stick around for a day ($11), a month ($75) or a year ($600), without the hassle of an initiation fee or a contract.
Classes: The Rising Phoenix Martial Arts and Fitness group offers blood-pumping classes like self-defense during the week and on Saturday afternoons. Mastering Shaolin forms, Judo and Kung Fu cost extra, though, as the group stands alone from the gym. One class runs $12, or you can buy a set of 10 classes for $100.
Extras: Wall-to-wall free weights and multiple pieces of stationary cardio machines ensure you won't have to wait for equipment here. Want to try something you've never seen before? Step onto the revolving Jacob's Ladder or the Treadwall, two machines straight from the Marines' training camps. The glut of machinery leaves little space for anything besides a well-stocked juice bar and elevated kickboxing stage, but these are the concessions a specialized gym must make.
Centerstage Reviewer: Nola Akiwowo