Group Fitness Class to Try in Chicago: Formula94 with FFC

If you’re anything like me, you love trying group fitness classes in Chicago. You love getting a sweat in, trying out a new class format, and seeing what works best for you. I’ve taken HIIT, barre, Pilates, cycle, and yoga classes. Having tried so many, I thought I was at least familiar with most Chicago group fitness classes. 

That is, until I discovered Formula94 at FFC (Fitness Formula Clubs). 

I was told that the Saturday morning class at FFC Lincoln Park with Lois Miller has a “cult-like following.” Men and women of all ages make a point to show up for this 8am class in Lincoln Park. FFC member Nicole Hinde even told me that, “no Friday night plan is worth missing the Formula94 class on Saturday morning.” I took Formula94 at FFC Lincoln Park; it is also offered at several other FFC clubs.

So what makes Formula94 different from all of those other classes I’ve taken? I signed up because I needed to know.

Saturday Morning Formula94 Group Fitness Class in Action at FFC Lincoln Park in Chicago.

What is it Like to Take Formula94?

Formula94’s name is derived from the fact that the temperature in the room is turned up to 94 degrees, and the humidity up to 40%. I advise you to DRINK WATER (yes, the capitalization is needed) before, during and after the class. Lois doesn’t cue breaks, so take them when you need them! This was especially true for me; I am not accustomed to exercising in heat. 

Class begins with a short 3 minute warm-up. From there, we didn’t stop moving to the 150 beats-per-minute music for the entire 45 minutes that I was in the studio. Throughout class, I switched between 2.5 pound weights and just bodyweight, while Lois led us through constant cardio movements. These movements consisted of side to side jumps, squat jumps, jumping jacks, and kickboxing motions (jabs, hooks, and uppercuts), to name a few. If it wasn’t obvious, Formula94 will make you sweat. The Mind Body Studio at FFC Lincoln Park has floor-to-ceiling windows and mirrors. Both were beautifully clear at 8am, and became unbelievably foggy by 8:10. 

What Makes Formula94 Unique?

In addition to the unique class format, the comradery in the studio for Formula94 is palpable. I was immediately greeted by my fellow classmates at the mats around me. Most of the attendees show up every Saturday morning for Lois’s class. Sarah Salomon, Formula94 aficionado, said that though the workout is incredible, the community within the class is the best part. People whose paths may not have crossed otherwise have now become friends, pushing each other to get stronger every week.

This class was hard, but the encouragement and support from the Formula94 community made it possible and enjoyable. Embrace the sweat afterward and relish in the fact that you got yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning and finished a fantastic workout by 9am! My body was exhausted right after class, but I spent the rest of the day feeling proud of myself for working so hard.

The windows get so foggy during this Chicago fitness class that Lois draws on them during class!

What is the History Behind Formula94?

Led by Group Fitness Director Lois Miller, the FFC Group Fitness Team hand-crafts the majority of the class formats offered throughout their Chicago Clubs. Formula94 is no exception. I talked with Lois to find out just how and why this one-of-a-kind class was developed. 

Lois created Formula94 herself about a decade ago. As a horseback rider who had developed arthritis at a very young age from being thrown off her horses, Lois was committed to finding forms of movement that felt good. She found that her body is better equipped to move in the heat. This lead her to realize that others must be experiencing similar restrictions. Lois was already well into her group fitness career, which began in 1986, when working on the class. She combined this concept of exercising in the heat with other forms of movement that she loves, great music, and weights, to develop Formula94.

Along with feeling good on the joints, cardio exercise in heat and humidity offers many additional benefits. The 94 degree temperature causes the body to have to work harder to self-regulate, forcing a sweat and increasing the calories burned. Sweating itself also removes toxins from the body and reverses the signs of aging. This class rewards participants with exceptional mental health benefits as well, from the physical work, the fun music, and spending time exercising with the amazing group of athletes that Formula94 attracts. Lois developed not only a class with Formula94, but a culture of participants that it has formed.  

Grab 2.5 and/or 5 pound weights for this Chicago fitness class.

How Can Chicagoans Take Formula94?

Formula94, and most other group fitness classes at FFC, are open to all FFC Members. If you’re not a member, FFC offers one-day passes to spend the day at any of their ten clubs. If you are into Chicago group fitness classes like me, use your pass to take this unparalleled class that you can’t find anywhere else.

Formula94 is a challenge. As a group fitness class fanatic, the heat, humidity, and cardio combination had me sweaty and exhausted. However, the unique format had me leaving wanting to come back and take it again. Lois said that class attendees go from “wow, this class is so tough,” to “wow, this class is so tough but I can do it,” to “wow, this class is so tough and I love it” after taking Formula94 several times. The attendance and energy in the room proved this to be true. FFC Members have been obsessed with Formula94 for the past decade and after taking it, I absolutely understand why.

Post Written by FFC Marketing Manager Sydney Meyer.