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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

12 Woman-Owned Fitness Clubs To Offer Free Classes During NW Side ‘Club Crawl’ To Kick Off New Year

Fitness studios across the Northwest Side will offer free dance and yoga classes for a week starting Sunday.

Fitness instructors Kymberlee Raya, JoAnn Dickson, Sarah Oates and Martha Montes are among the 12 local women offering free fitness classes for the inaugural Club Crawl 2022.
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EDISON PARK — After a stressful two years in the fitness industry due to the pandemic, 12 women instructors are joining forces to bring a series of free classes to the Far Northwest Side community for a weeklong club crawl.

Kymberlee Raya, owner of Fly Girl Dance & Fitness at 6325 N. Avondale Ave. in Edison Park, decided to organize the crawl to start off 2022 with a positive attitude. It begins this Sunday and runs through Jan. 16 with various classes in the morning and evening.

It features women-owned fitness studios and instructors from around the Far Northwest Side and nearby suburbs who will offer classes in yoga, Zumba, boot camp, dance, Tai chi and more with a focus on empowering women, Raya said.

The crawl will “band together women and kick off the new year right,” said Raya, who will be teaching a Zumba and “booty” boot camp class at her studio Sunday. 

The crawl has 14 classes that offer diverse teaching styles, class formats and a chance for attendees to try new fitness routines in a non-competitive manner.

“The crawl is providing really cool opportunities to try different classes at different studios,” she said.

She said the idea to create the crawl came to her at 3 a.m. last year on a night when she could not sleep. Eager to empower women to feel healthy after a difficult two years, she reached out to several fitness instructors and was pleased with how many wanted to jump on board, she said.

Like many businesses with indoor service, the fitness industry suffered from COVID shutdowns. For Fly Girls, 2021 was difficult because the studio operated without a space for most of the year after leaving its Gladstone Park location after five years.

In October, Fly Girls secured its new space and was able to return to normal classes, but the owner said the experience was an uphill battle. Multiple deals on storefronts fell through, she said.

“I had so many doors shut on me in getting no’s, no’s, no’s [so] I wanted to be the ‘yes’ guy to everyone,” she said of the studio crawl.

Martha Montes, owner of Latin Fitness Chicago, will be teaching a Zumba and a hatha yoga class in Jefferson Park at Hōkūle’a Academy of Polynesian Arts, 5180 N. Elston Ave., on Jan. 14 as part of the crawl. She decided to participate to try something new that will allow people to sample new classes while highlighting local businesses.

“It’s neat to be supporting each other,” Montes said, who teaches private and corporate classes at various North Side studios in person and virtually.

She is looking forward to teaching Zumba followed by a zen yoga session for those who want to have fun and get both aspects of a workout. People can also just join for one class, though she recommends the “perfect combination” of sweat and the relaxation.

“It will be an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and be silly,” she said of her classes. “With everything going on, people are looking for those blissful moments, as short as they may be.”

Other studios participating include DanceRoom Chicago in Portage Park at 5355 W. Irving Park Road; Deep Roots Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Norwood Park at 6178 North Northwest Highway; Studio Fit Chicago in Lincoln Park at 1011 W. Armitage Ave. and others in Park Ridge and Norridge.

Dana Rosenthal, owner of DanceRoom Chicago, said they’ll be teaching a “foxy burlesque hip hop routine” on Wednesday.

Raya said she hopes to make the club crawl an annual offering if the event is successful. In line with her studio’s branding, she wants the classes to be an uplifting experience for any woman with any body type, while encouraging them to get healthy and practice self-love.

“I am super excited that studio owners are stepping up to band together,” she said. “It took a pandemic to do this but they are all so gracious. It’s about women empowerment, self-motivation and love.”

Classes are in-person except for one and each requires a proof of vaccination and masks. People interested in participating in the crawl can sign up online.

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