November 28, 2018

MSC Social: Fit Body Boot Camp

Queen of the sidelines. Date unknown.

In elementary school, my dad was the coach of our local AYSO soccer team. I was a sorry sight on the field, and truthfully, I only showed up for the orange slices and Capri-Suns. A few years later, I was floundering through the seventh grade and desperate to be a Clarendon Hills Middle School cheerleader. Since I’d learned how to mount and toe-touch on the recreational community squad, I thought I’d be a shoo-in. But to my utter despair, all of my friends made the elite middle school squad — I was the only one who didn’t. I cried for weeks. Lastly, there was the cross-country team at my high school. It was the sole sport at Hinsdale Central that allowed anyone to join without trying out. My best friend and I showed up to the first day of practice in our baggy t-shirts and Nike shorts.

“Okay, one mile. GO!” yelled the coach, standing in his tracksuit on the field. I balked at him. Weren’t we supposed to warm up to the running part? Maybe some power walking, or stretches? 

That afternoon, I ran three laps and pretended to run the fourth. I quit the next day.

All of this to say: I’ve never been a sports person, and I’ve spent most of my life trying to find some sort of physical activity that I truly enjoyed. In college, I added many more workouts to my resume: a half-marathon, Crossfit, yoga, miles on the elliptical machine, sprint triathlons. And in recent years, I’ve visited what seems like every gym and studio in Chicago: Barry’s, FlyWheel, Studio Three, Lincoln Park Athletic Club, CorePower, Lagree, FFC, Pilates ProWorks, and basically anything else available on ClassPass.

I literally can’t believe I’m posting this online, but here’s me in my cheerleading uniform. I was a Hinsdale Falcon, a.k.a. a proud member of the recreational, no-cut squad. Spring 2005.
Here I am with my humble fans after the “Tri-the-Illini” sprint triathlon. Fall 2011.
This is me after my first & only half-marathon (Courtney was & is v loyal). Spring 2012.
I just had to throw this pic in for good measure. I’m eating a bowl of Cheerios in the Newman Hall dining room, post-race.

This past winter, my buyer’s agent, Courtney, started working out at a place called Fit Body Boot Camp. She discovered the Lincoln Park gym through ClassPass, and after falling in love with the fast-paced classes, she quit the app and signed up for an unlimited membership at Fit Body. One sticky summer day, Courtney brought me along for a quick midday sweat session.

It was hard. Gosh, it was hard. There were burpees and lunges. There were squat jumps and army crawls. There were dumbbells and TRX bands. But the class flew by. Forty-five minutes after walking in, we were stretching on the blue carpet.

“Did you like it?” asked Courtney, still trying to catch her breath.

“I’m dead,” I answered melodramatically.

The next morning, I was sore from head to toe. But something inside me wanted to go back again. I signed up for an introductory membership at Fit Body, telling myself that I would give it three weeks to decide if I liked it enough to keep going. You know how this story ends. Twenty-one days later, I was all in. Following in Courtney’s footsteps, I quit ClassPass and signed up for an unlimited membership.

I’ve been working out at FBBC 3-4 times a week since September, and although I still struggle through the workouts (modified pushups forever!), I feel faster and stronger. Courtney has inspired me from day one, and it is so much fun to workout with the person I work with.

“What if we did the next MSC Social here?”

Courtney and I were in the middle of a warmup, bending down to touch our toes. I looked at her, incredulous. “Do you think that would work? Would people be into it?” I wondered aloud, mulling over her idea. Our first-ever MSC Social took place at a millennial-friendly nail salon in the spring. We were ready to do it again.

“Everyone loves free workouts,” she replied. “We could make it fun. Mimosas, treats, coffee, RXBARs…”


We laughed, and the planning began. The owner of the Lincoln Park location, Kyle, had recently opened another gym in Old Town. It was brand new, and we thought it would be the perfect place to host our social. Kyle was incredibly enthusiastic about the idea. We marked the calendar for the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Andrew can attest to how nervous I was the night before. I checked my Weather Channel app constantly, worrying that the forecasted snow showers would stop people from showing up. We sat cross-legged on the floor, taping my business cards to RXBARs (chocolate sea salt and chocolate chip, obviously!).

“Melanie, you need to relax,” he said, ripping off a piece of tape. “This is a laid-back event. No pressure. And it’s not like you’re the one leading the class.”

He encouraged me to breath deep and trust God — the solution to every anxiety.

The next morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn, excited and ready. I tugged on my favorite workout leggings, put my hair in a ponytail (then a bun, then a ponytail again) and laced up my Nikes. At 10am, it was time to go. With MSCBARs and two carafes of coffee in tow, I walked from the car to the entrance, praying all the way.

It was a blast. All of it. I loved greeting my clients as they arrived, hugging each one and catching up with those I haven’t seen in a while. There were buyers and sellers from every neighborhood: West Loop, Rogers Park, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, South Loop, Old Town, and many more.

To make the morning even sweeter, a few more special people worked out with us: my dad, Andrew, my BFF, Courtney’s husband, my lender, my cousin (who happens to be a past buyer!). I loved hopping from group to group, joking with my clients as sweat poured down their faces.

We ended the 45-minute workout with coffee, mimosas, quiche, protein shakes and MSCBARs. Kyle, the owner, was amazing. He led the class, hosted us, and sliced up the quiches. When guests lingered at the end of the morning, Kyle was patient and accommodating. I can see what makes him a successful business owner.

Thank you to all who participated in this MSC Social. Thank you to Kyle and his Fit Body crew. And most of all, thank you to Courtney, my partner in crime and in fitness.