Browsing Category:

Work Out

doing Chicago: 24 hours of fitness

Posted in Travel, Work Out by

fitness in chicago

Chicago is a city that’s screaming to be explored by foot power – with tons of different gyms and unique classes to check out. There’s nothing I love more than taking a walk around any of our neighborhoods – there’s always a ton to see, and you’ll almost certainly stumble into a fun street festival or farmer’s market in the summer. It’s one of the most fit-friendly places in America, so if you’re looking to see the city while you get fit, here’s a 24-hour guide to Chicago fitness to follow!

9:00 AM: Head out of your room at the Chicago Athletic Association for a run through Grant Park and along the lakeshore. The hotel was built in the 1800’s as a club for society men to shoot pool and work out, and it’s still decorated with a sporty spirit today. Head north on Lake Shore Drive past Buckingham Fountain, Cloud Gate (more commonly known as “the Bean”,) and follow the path up to Oak Street Beach. Part of the Rock ‘n Roll 10K I ran last summer went along the lakeshore and ended in the park, and it’s really beautiful and inspiring if you depend on scenery to distract yourself from running. Take some time to relax on the beach and cool off, then head out to refuel.

Photo by Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park

11:00 AM: Try Wicker Park for brunch – whether you’re looking for something healthy (try Native Foods Cafe) or sinful (Stan’s Donuts is a must-try,) there’s something to satisfy everyone in your group. Afterward, take a walk over to Cup & Spoon (2415 W North Ave.) to grab a glass of their Electric Lemonade – the activated charcoal in it will help out with any tummy trouble building up.

From there, it’s a short walk to the Divvy station at Western & Winnebago. Divvy bikes let you rent for a few hours or a whole day, so check one out and take a spin on the 606 trail. A former el line, it was recently renovated into a gorgeous 2.7-mile trail that’s bike- and run-friendly. Markers line the trail with Chicago history and landmarks, so you can learn as you lean!

1:00 PM: Head back downtown on your bike and grab another quick bite to keep your energy levels up. I’m a really big fan of Sweetgreen (huge, fresh salads) and The Protein Bar for great juices and wraps.

2:00 PM: Continue your tour of Chicago architecture and history with a tour on the river. Kayak Chicago offers several different tours, including an architecture tour, so you can appreciate the gorgeous 1800’s buildings in downtown (and scout out those riverwalk bars to visit before heading home for the night.)

5:00 PM: Green Zebra is the perfect dinner for your fit day. A vegetarian restaurant specializing in small plates, their menu is creative and changes seasonally. The tasting menu is a nice way to make the meal special!

7:00 PM: Finish up your day of fitness with a fun dance class. Stiletto Dance Studio offers classes in bootcamp and yoga, but if it’s a girls trip: head there for the Pole Dancing classes and get your groove on. (Or if you’re still feeling up to it, try stand-up-paddle in Lake Michigan with Chicago SUP. It’s beautiful at night.) In the summer, there are often dance parties in city parks, like salsa, mambo, and bachata classes

Photo by Ardian Lumi on Unsplash

9:00 PM: Head to Logan Square and hit up the local barcade, Emporium. You and your friends can keep up your competitive spirit with games like air hockey or pool, or stick to the solo machines like Pac-Man and pinball. (Try a local Chicago brew, like Revolution, while you’re there – beer is a great way to replenish nutrients your body loses after a hard workout!)

8:00 AM: Since you went to bed so early, you’re surely waking up and feeling great! Before heading out of town, grab some Dark Matter coffee and check out Flywheel. It’s similar to Soulcycle (but more accessible to newbies,) and they often have Chicago-centric classes. If you aren’t going to Pitchfork festival, you could at least go to the Pitchfork Flywheel class! Afterward, head to Lincoln Park’s Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Factory. You deserve it after all that work, and it’s a Chicago institution!

What’s your favorite way to actively explore when traveling? Do you have a favorite Chicago workout spot?

June 1, 2018
/

best workout gear

Posted in Work Out by

I recently got a treadmill desk! For about a year I’d been heavily considering it, trying to determine which model would be the best option, deciding if such a major purchase was even feasible (I do move around a lot, after all.) The Nordictrac Treadmill Desk was my pick, for reasons including reputation and speed (it goes to 6mph, meaning I can use it for running as well as work,) but there are plenty of other more portable and space-saving options out there. When I moved to Chicago, my workout gear took a severe hit – since I wasn’t running much in Nashville, I had gotten rid of a lot of my gear. An in-home treadmill begs for a wardrobe of sweat-wicking saviors, though, so I did a stockpile splurge to re-up. Here are some of my new faves and what I love so much about them!

icyZone Racerback Workout Tanks: I have a long torso, so it’s often hard for me to find shirts that are long enough to be comfortable – let alone workout tops that are comfortable. When these came up on an Amazon search, I liked the colors a lot, so I nabbed them. They’re the perfect length and look really great. After years of wearing lululemon, I can also attest that the quality of these rival many of my Swiftlys.

EMY Strappy Sports Bras: A lot of my shirts have open backs, catering to bras with cute back styles. They’re expensive, though, so these are another thing I’ve let my drawer skimp on. This pack of five for $30 is not only comfortable and true-to-size, but the removable padding also helps my poor undersized girls feel a little more confident. (Okay, so maybe it’s me that they help. Either way.)

Saucony Sport Socks: Along with my long torso and undersized breasts, I have gigantic Dutch feet. It can often be hard to find affordable socks that fit my size 12’s – most women’s athletic socks are only sized to 10, so they come up only midway on my heels. These are thick and comfy, and almost oversized – I’m sure they’d be great for people with normal sized feet, but if you feel like yours are bigger than average, these are the socks for you.

c9 High Waisted Capri Leggings: All high-waisted everything, all c9 everything. My daily pants for the last three years or so have been c9’s high-waist full-length leggings, but since I prefer to work out in capris, I have quite a few of the junior versions in my drawer as well. The high waist is comfortable and makes me feel a little skinny, and c9 always has stylish options for their gear, like the lattice details on this pair.

Contigo Autoseal Water Bottle: My ADIDAS water bottle is finally starting to give up the ghost, but it’s fine, because bf got me the best and fanciest replacement a few months ago. This water bottle is insulated so it keeps things super cold for a long time – even overnight – and it doesn’t leak at all. The handle is really handy too, so when I’m carrying my mobile office (you know, my computer, charger, phone, Kindle, bullet journal, etc. etc.) from the treadmill to the outdoor office, it’s easy to hook it onto my pinky and tote it around.

What are your workout/fitness must-haves?

May 18, 2018
/

run rock ‘n roll chicago: the WORST race I’ve ever run.

Posted in Work Out by
I was provided a sample from Coolcore and promotional credit from Spothero, but all opinions are my own!

A few months ago when I started spending more time with my grandparents, my grandpa asked if I was still running. I wasn’t, but I thought about it often. On a whim, I signed up for the Chicago Rock ‘n Roll 10K – it was National Running Day and that seems to be an annual tradition of mine. My first half-marathon was the Run Rock ‘n Roll Cleveland half a few years ago, so I know the series and had had a great time. I thought I’d certainly have time to train up and get into shape to knock out some consistent 12:00 miles, never mind that my training has ranged from non-existent to inconsistent at best for the last few years. Nevertheless, I was excited to take on a race length I’d never done before!

Leading up to the race, I would hit the elliptical about five days a week for 30-60 minutes… starting about two weeks before race day. (At least I was trying!) The expo was at McCormick Place, which is officially my least favorite place in Chicago. Pro tip: if you’re ever headed there for a packet pickup, enter the Hyatt Regency as the destination, or else your GPS will bring you under the convention center where there’s no way to get in. Dani and I trotted around the expo quickly – the KT Tape line was mercifully short, and the free loot was pretty good. Rock Tape was there as well, but I resisted the urge to cover my entire body in kineseo tape. I’m excited to try the Muscle Mac we got. I also splurged on a race shirt – it’s almost like Brooks heard I was coming.

The night before the race I definitely had some nerves that I didn’t expect. My race day plan had turned into “finish, and don’t fall,” so I wasn’t anxious about hitting a goal time by that point. I did have a vague stretch goal in mind, but I didn’t want to do anything stupid and get hurt. I did the requisite pre-race preparation by getting my gear bag ready, putting the bib on my Fitletic belt, setting out my outfit, and plugging in the headphones to charge. I had received a tank from Coolcore to test out, so I paired that with my much beloved Superfit Hero capris. I bagged up three Olly Endless Energy vitamins to use as chews halfway through the race, then settled into bed to make plans to get downtown for the race. Arranging early morning transportation is one of my least favorite things – will there be Lyft drivers online before 6am? What time does my bus start running? I opted to bypass that and instead pre-book a parking spot by using SpotHero. I parked three blocks from the start/finish line, and it made it super easy to get downtown and save me some grief. If you’re running a downtown Chicago race, I highly suggest opting for that!

Like the last Run Rock ‘n Roll race I did, corrals were well-signed, and gear check was easy to find and navigate. They even had pre-race bananas and water, which was great since I had managed to walk out of the house without water.

I also want to give a big ‘ol shoutout to the lady I stood next to in the corral who was on the phone getting a pep talk from a friend. She said “I’m learning not to compare myself to the runner I once was and to instead embrace the runner I now am.” I’ve thought about that a lot since I heard it, and I was so thankful to be hearing it.

The race started at 6:30am with corral 1, and I crossed the start line around 7:00. It’s a similar start to the Hot Chocolate 5k, and I had forgotten that it starts with a bridge uphill. Woooof. I’d been having some trouble finding new running shoes to replace my long-blown out Asics, so I was running in shoes that I’d only had for two days. Probably not the smartest move, but YOLO, right? By the time I got up that first bridge my shins were SCREAMING, and I had shin splints for the first time in my life in mile one. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to finish the race then.

I kept on, enjoying the gorgeous lake view, listening to my music to keep my pacing… until my headphones turned off before the second mile marker hit. It was really not a great start. I got EXTREMELY down on myself for awhile, thinking about how slow I was, how embarrassing it was that I was even trying, things like that. As we rounded a corner to get a really great view of the city skyline against Lake Michigan and came upon the first band, I realized how lucky I am to even be able to go run even if it is slow. I pulled over to snap a selfie, then trotted to catch back up to the ladies I’d been playing leapfrog with as a pacing trick.

run rock n roll course view

The race, my leg pain, and my splits got better after that. It’s so funny how things can be very self-fulfilling – if I would have let myself stay in the negative, I have no doubt that every step would have been painful. I tried resetting my headphones and they came back on as well. We hit the halfway mark water station, I ate my energy chews, and we merged with the half marathoners. The last band we passed featured a 90’s cover band, complete with a bassist in Zubaz – my soulmate, possibly? As we finally approached the timing clock, I could see that I was very very very close to my goal time… which I then missed by 1:02. I’m blaming that selfie! I’m pretty proud of being able to pull myself out of thinking negative, and for finishing a new distance. 10k is the perfect amount of running to not get bored, like I occasionally did in halfs.

Finish line gear was amazing. Bananas, bagels, chocolate milk (my fave,) Gatorade – they were well equipped with refueling options. Finisher’s village was great – they even had wine this time for those who don’t like beer.

Coolcore tank in Run Rock 'n Roll 10k Chicago

Shoutout to Dani for braiding my hair!

Coolcore‘s tank did an amazing job of pulling the sweat and moisture away from my body. I had actually worn it to a Flywheel class as well, and it did the same there, too. I was skeptical of the sizing, but I was so happy with it – the women’s XL fits loose, so it doesn’t feel like it’s clinging to you and lets you breathe. The only thing that I noticed early on in the race was that it did chafe a bit against my arms because the arm holes are a bit larger than I normally wear, but I’m very happy with it and look forward to trying out some of their shorts or leggings!

run rock n roll

If you’re considering doing any Rock ‘n Roll race, keep an eye on Groupon. A few weeks after I signed up, I saw that they were available there too.

July 24, 2017
/

what’s the best time of day to work out?

Posted in Work Out by
This post is sponsored by Health I.Q.!

When I first started getting really into fitness in 2012, I would roll out of bed every morning at 5:30am to hit the elliptical for 45 minutes before going to work. I kept that up for awhile until I started to explore group exercise classes – almost always taking place at 5:30pm after work, completely reversing my regular routine. It showed me that there might not be a “correct” time of day to get up and get working out, but I did always wonder if it made me a bit lazier by not getting up early and joining the hardcore in the dark, early mornings.

If you’ve ever wondered what the best time of day to work out is, here are some things to consider!

  • The best time of day to work out is the time you can dedicate to it. It sounds obvious or silly, but it’s true! This is something I struggle with. Sometimes I feel like if I don’t work out in the morning or on my lunch break that there’s no point or that all my “free” time for the day is up. This is the most important thing to consider when trying to plan out your workouts.
  • If you need consistency and accountability, make a schedule and find a buddy to work out with. This was a big part of why group exercise was so effective for me. It was at the same time every day, and though I didn’t have “friends” in the classes, there were definitely people I was friendly with and came to enjoy seeing every day. Whether it’s a gym exercise class, a standing date with a friend, or a personal trainer, it can be a worthy investment as you get your fitness in gear.
  • Working out in the afternoon might be the best time of day to prevent injury or sleep interruption. Working out in the morning might be difficult because of sore muscles from sleeping in a strange position, and fatigue can put you more at risk for injury. Being active too close to bedtime can throw your circadian rhythm off. The afternoon might be the perfect time to protect your body and avoid feeling too “awake” to sleep!
  • Consider your safety and comfort when deciding when to work out. Maybe you go to the gym but it’s packed after work. Start becoming an early bird! Live by a really gorgeous park, but feel nervous about a pre-dawn run alone? Watch the weather, hydrate, and go for a spin after it’s a bit busier.

Take the quiz below to learn more about the best time of day to work out and start saving today. Your results on Health I.Q. can even help you qualify for lower life insurance rates!

About Health IQ:

HealthIQ’s mission is to improve the health of the world. In pursuit of this mission, they’ve created over 1,000 health-related quizzes and worked with innovative insurance companies to create financial rewards for health conscious people. To date, Health IQ has helped over ten thousand triathletes, vegans, runners, and other health conscious people secure billions in life insurance coverage, and they hope to expand to other financial rewards in the near future.

About Health IQ’s Learn About Life Campaign:

Learn About Life is a health-education campaign, with the goal of driving more people to learn something new about their health. To accomplish this goal, Health IQ has partnered with a select group of nonprofits and bloggers to produce and promote thousands of health related quizzes. If you’re a non-profit or blogger and want to learn about how you can support this campaign, email cleo.kirkland@healthiq.com with subject line “Learn About Life…I’m In”

July 22, 2017
/

cotopaxi questival discount & giveaway

Posted in Travel, Work Out by
This giveaway is presented in partnership with Cotopaxi!

It’s no secret that I love Chicago and one of my favorite things to do is explore. Whether it’s trying new restaurants, hiking a new trail, or hitting the newest fitness class, I love to check out new things. If I can combine that with fitness, even better! That’s why I was so excited to find the Cotopaxi Questival Adventure Race.

Different than a traditional 5k or running race, Questival lets you “spend 24 hours with your closest friends, in your favorite city, checking a bunch of amazing experiences off your bucket list?” Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Questival is a 24-hour adventure race that invites you to build friendships, push yourself, experience your surroundings, and have a whole bunch of fun. Your team of 2 to 6 people will do exciting, unpredictable, and downright good things you never thought possible. We guarantee it’ll be like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

Cotopaxi is bringing the Questival to Chicago from August 25-26, and I’m already recruiting my friends to head out with me. As I learned in a race a few weeks ago, I am a bit out of shape, but that’s no problem – Questival is accessible even for people who aren’t super athletic.

Not only does the entry fee include 24 hours of adventure, all participants also get Cotopaxi’s Luzon Del Dia Daypack. Every one of these bags are unique because they’re handmade by Cotopaxi employees who get to select each part of the bag (learn more about this in this video!)

I’ve been using it for about a month, and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s a great bag to wear when I head out to tour Chicago, packing up to organize a road trip with friends, or even piling my belongings into it to settle in for a long night at the rock show.

The bag features some really great details, including a Velcro key loop, adjustable straps, and a card holder inside the zipper pocket on the front of the bag. Since it’s built for a hydration bladder, I picked up this one on Amazon, and it’s worked great! If you’re an outdoorsy type or even someone who just carries a lot of stuff around, I highly recommend this bag. (Did I mention you get it for free if you do the Questival race?!)

This giveaway is over, but be sure to visit Cotopaxi and register for the Questival near you! Check back in a few months for a review and recap of the Chicago event.

July 17, 2017
/