Fitness Fridays: Ladies Who Lift with Rae Reichlin

I love weight lifting. It’s something I’ve been fascinated by since I had to lift in high school when I played softball. I lifted regularly in college at our student rec center, and even took a weight training class to better my form and learn new lifts and equipment. I truly do enjoy it and I love how strong it makes me feel.

Moving to Chicago put an end to it, however. While Chicago brought me back to running, the steep prices of gyms (I’m sorry, $400 joining fees are outrageous, and some require first and last month up front) has left me slowly drifting away from lifting.

As some of you remember, I tried XSport for a while, but the Piper’s Alley facility was so run down, broken and disgusting with only one water fountain in an enormous high capacity gym and a dirty pool saw me cancel my membership (which was an EXPERIENCE. It involved certified mail, multiple tracked letters, a customer service rep that told me to “just fuck off” and an apathetic sales manager at my home location). I was a member at FFC when I worked in the Union Station location’s building, but as soon as I lost that job the membership was gone. So I gave up on it, and stuck to my flat $40 a month at classpass with an occasional purchased class thrown in here and there.

But then, through aSweatLife, I met Rae Reichlin, the founder of Ladies Who Lift. She very kindly invited me to come experience a Level 2 class myself (since I do have weight training experience). So last Sunday, I drove back from my family reunion and caught her class at Rockwell Barbell, near the North Center neighborhood. I am so glad I made it back to Chicago to catch this class, and as I write this the following Wednesday, the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is real. (NOTE: It’s Thursday as I edit this and they’re still real.)

So let’s break down what very well may be a lifechanging class.


It was pushing 100 with the heat index on Sunday, and Rockwell Barbell does not have AC. With this in consideration, I wore the following

·        Nike Metcon Flyknit 3s: Flat bottomed and supportive, these might suck for HIIT classes with Treadmill portions, but they rock for lifting.

·        Lululemon Speed Up Shorts: These aren’t just for running. Their lightweight and wicking material kept me cool and dry.

·        Chi 1833 Tank: A good old-fashioned tank top. It did the job well.

·        Balega Socks: Also not just for running. These are my go-to socks for EVERYTHING.

·        Nike Indy Pro Bra: Enough support for weight training and a flattering fit.


Okay so keep in mind I was traveling right before this. I had an Arby Beef and Cheddar for lunch on the interstate after I bought gas. Then I supplemented with the following:

·        BPI Aminos with Energy: Caffeine. Enough said.

·        Science in Sport Energy Gels: Carbs, baby. This really gave me a boost. My favorite flavor is Cherry! Use code AMB10BTT for some money off, and RIGHT NOW recovery protein is 40% off! Which brings me to my next point…

·        Science in Sport Overnight Protein with Casein: I used this after I wound down for the evening. It’s 40% off right now and the cookies and cream flavor rocks. Don’t forget code AMB10BTT for additional money off. (I don’t get a kick back if you use that or anything, I’m just an ambassador)


Alright alright. This is what you’re here for, I know. The class. We had 8 stations with a combination of reps or exercises at each. We did what my high school softball team called ladders at a few stations. Lower weight, higher reps, moving down to heavier weight, fewer reps. And yes, there was a tire to flip.

We were split into groups of three and moved through the stations, with Rae coming around and correcting form and giving tips as we progressed. My group started at deadlifts. Ah deadlifts, my eternal enemy. It was here that I started to realize “use it or lose it” is a real thing.

Remember how I said I used to lift? Yeah well it became apparently very quickly that I was no longer in the shape I once was. I saw the weight I could deadlift decreased by 30lbs and my squatting weight by a whopping 60 lbs. So here I was, 8 minutes in and frustrated with myself. The cool thing is Rae doesn’t leave any room for frustration or self-loathing in her classes. She constantly comes around with encouragement and form corrections, and despite my loss of strength, I found myself feeling like a badass. I wasn’t lifting what I used to, but I was lifting again!


The community vibe is an enormous part of the ladies who lift class. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and supportive of one another. I couldn’t have flipped that enormous tire without my partner, that’s for sure. And if the thought of ice breakers makes you nervous, no sweat. Just say hi to your group, chat for a sec about whatever, and get out there and lift.

I really enjoyed the full body aspect of the workout, and I loved trying things I never had with bands and a sled. I found myself doing a lot of my favorite workouts (lawn mower pulls, squats, front squats) and discovering some new faves (hamstring pulls with a big ball, for example). I felt like I’d worked my entire body, and I felt safe in all of my lifts thanks to the form check sand adjustments from Rae throughout.

In Conclusion…

I highly recommend Ladies Who Lift. Highly. Make sure you catch Level 1 first, so you can get the full low down on equipment, form, and really get a sense of the community. Rae has built an amazing thing here in Chicago; it’s a chance for you to get stronger, to become more confident, and meet amazing women while you do it. It’s an opportunity for women to learn the basics of lifting and build from there without the intimidation that a big box gym can sometimes leave you with. It’s an empowering community of badass women getting stronger together, and there is nothing better than that.

Want to sign up? First of all, follow @ladieswholiftchi and @cestlarae on Instagram. You can find a link to the Dabble page to sign up HERE. Be ready to sign up with the links go live! They sell out fast!

Will I see you at a future Ladies Who Lift event?