Park District Brings Back Free Fitness Week

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

The Chicago Park District announces Free Fitness Week to return to 69 fitness centers across the city from September 3 to September 8. New and competitive fees for all of the centers’ memberships will also make access to fitness facilities more affordable and achieving wellness goals reachable.

Starting on September 3, Free Fitness Week participants may visit any of our fitness centers, try-out the equipment, and pay only $5 for a single-day pass.

Upgrading to a Chicago Park District fitness center membership will also be more affordable.  Fitness centers offer several membership options that cater to diverse needs and exercise and training preferences. Reduced fees for single site, monthly, 3 month, and annual passes will also be available at all fitness centers. Patrons may set up an account before registering either online or in person. There are gold card membership options that allow people to explore and workout at any of the Chicago Park District’s fitness centers citywide.

The cost of monthly passes has been reduced in many parks and range from $10 to $22. Three-month passes vary by park from $30 to $60 and annual passes from $100 to $225. Accessibility is key to making fitness accessible to as many patrons as possible.  There are over 40 fitness centers that have accessible equipment for people with disabilities. Hours of operation can vary by location.

The Chicago Park District has 69 fitness centers, many with new and improved equipment that include computerized treadmills, cross trainers, upright bikes, recumbent bikes, free weights and benches, cable cross-overs, multi-station weight machines and core focused equipment.

From yoga to bootcamp, there are over 750 fitness classes in our Fall Session, which kicks off the week of September 9.  Online and in-person registration is open.

For more information about Free Fitness Week and our wellness programs, visit

High rise gardens can offer healthy benefits

(Published July 13, 2019)

By Angela Gagnon

Staff Writer

Starting a garden in a high-rise building might seem a little daunting, but it doesn’t take much to enjoy the fruits of the labor, literally or aesthetically. Plants are also a natural air purifier, adding the benefit of cleaner air inside your home. 

Even a very small space can be outfitted with vertical or stacking planters, or small pots can be placed on windowsills or out on the balcony. Plants essentially need sunlight and water, so that is a good place to start. 

“First, figure out what type of lighting you have and which direction your windows face,” said Juan Quezada, co-owner of Plant Shop Chicago. For most plants, you’ll want to choose the sunniest, best windowsill in the house, ideally with southern or eastern exposure. 

“Plants are living things that require care and commitment, so you’ll also want to consider your schedule when building your garden,” Quezada said. 

If you often travel or don’t spend much time at home, you’ll want to choose plants that can survive without daily watering. Cacti and succulents are beginner-friendly plants that don’t require much water and are a great choice for a low maintenance garden. They also take up very little space. 

According to Quezada, ferns are easy to care for because they don’t need direct sunlight but need to be watered frequently. Snake plants do well in the sunlight, but are drought tolerant and don’t require much water.

For edible plants, an herb garden can also do well indoors and provide a useful nutritional component for anyone with a penchant for cooking. Choose a long planter and add herbs such as chives, thyme, mint or lemon verbena, which do well in the sunlight. 

Seek out a local garden center or nursery to help getting started. Christy Webber Farm and Garden offers in-home consultations with designers who come to your home for a fee and help with the process. They encourage residents to bring in photos of the windowsill area so in-store consultants can help create the perfect garden.

Pets need regular teeth brushing to stay healthy

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger

Staff writer

Most people know they need to take care of their own teeth but few realize dogs and cats also need dental care.

“If we don’t brush our teeth for a day, we get that film on our teeth, that film is plaque,” explained Dr. Jennifer Stecher of Good Vets, 227 E. Grand Ave. “If an animal doesn’t their brush teeth, they naturally create plaque. In time that plaque forms into tartar.” 

In addition to tartar being bad for a dog’s teeth, it’s bad for the rest of the animal as well. 

“Any time we have animals that have periodontal disease, everytime that animal swallows, that means the bacteria is going from (their) mouth into their stomach,” Stecher said. That can cause gastrointestinal issues or even affect other organs such as  the heart, kidney and liver.

Stecher recommends brushing a pet’s teeth at least every other day. 

“Brushing is the best thing you can do for your dog and cat at home,” said Dr Gonsky of West Loop Veterinary Care, 815 W. Randolph. “Most dogs and cats can be trained to accept toothbrushing very well, and can look forward to it.” 

West Loop Veterinary Care is working on a video  to help pet owners learn how to brush their pets’ teeth.

While there are numerous products available, such as dental chews, Stecher said they are not a replacement for tooth brushing. Dental chews may not reach all the teeth since animals tend to favor one side of the mouth for chewing, she said. 

In addition to brushing teeth, both doctors recommend having the pet’s teeth examined by a veterinarian. A veterinarian can help advise the owner decide  the best course of action for their pet’s dental well being.

Full dental procedures,  necessary to properly clean the gum line, polish teeth and get X-rays, require the animal to  have anesthesia, Stecher said. 

“it’s more dangerous when they are fully awake,” she said. “It’s the safest way to do a dental procedure.”

“I think pet owners need to know that their pets’ oral health is as important as their skin health, joint health or any other system in their body,” Gonsky said. “Our pets don’t have the capacity to tell us and the signs of discomfort may be very subtle. Regular communication and examination with the vet is the key to helping keep your whole dog or cat and their mouth healthy.”

Photo credit: Krista Scarlavai

Getting the bike ready to roll

(Published April 1, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

After a long winter spent cooped up inside, getting back on the bike is the easy part.

The tricky part comes before you saddle up. After a long season in a closet or storage space, most bikes need at least a small tune up.

Dan Ioja, fleet manager at Bike and Roll Chicago, repairs bikes at their facility in Millennium Park. He said some bikes just need minor repairs a bike savvy person can do at home, others could need more serious work.

“It depends where you store it,” Ioja said. Ioja should know—as the bike repair expert at Bike and Roll, he sees all kind of bikes that have been stored in all kinds of places.

If a bike is stored in a garage or an area exposed to cold, dry air, Ioja explained, the cables and tires could be dried out and other parts of the could be suffering from oxidation.

However, just because the tires need air, that doesn’t necessarily  mean there is a problem. Tires lose air over time.

“The wall of the tube is so porous it’s going to lose pressure,” Ioja said. “But if the tires are completely deflated, the tire walls could have cracks.”

The first thing a bike owner should do is air up the tires, lubricate the chain and make sure the brakes work.

Ioja said bike manufacturers recommend a tune up at least once a year, so this could mean a trip to the bike store.

“Spring is the time when a tune up is recommended to make sure the bike is prepared for riding season,” he said.

Other manufacturers, especially companies that make high-end bikes, recommend major overhauls every few years. Carbon frames with carbon seat posts, need the seat posts to be removed and reset every few years.

With 400 members, Bike and Roll Chicago mechanics have seen all manner of bicycles. Ioja said non-members with questions is welcome to bring their bike by.

“We keep people on the road all through the year in all kinds of conditions,” he said.

Liam Doring, a bike mechanic at Bike and Roll, cleans up a bike. Photo by Jesse Wright

Tuneups at Bike and Roll start at $69 and a full overhaul is $200. Flat tires are fixed for $16 plus tax.

BYODog to Yoga helps rescue animals

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Most yoga classes offer a somewhat zen experience with calming music, dim lighting and deep concentration, but a recent class held by Chicago based Rescue in Style
had a very different atmosphere. While holding the downward dog pose, yogis may have looked down to find an actual dog staring back at them.

Rescue in Style partnered with Joriki clothing and ALIVE Rescue to host a BYODog to Yoga class on Dec. 14, inviting yogis to bring their beloved pups along to the studio. As the humans stretched and twisted in an all–levels yoga practice, a group of furry friends ran excitedly around the studio.

BYODog to Yoga class brings pups to the mat. By Taylor Hartz.

As dogs barked and growled over the instructor and zen music, laughter erupted throughout the class as pups popped up all over. Animal lover Dannie Levine attended
the class with Zoe, her Beagle, and Tonks, her Beagle and Boxer mix. Levine adopted Zoe and Tonks, after she started volunteering at Paws in Lincoln Park.

“I love to bring the happiness of dogs and the love of animals to other people,” said Levine, who added that Zoe is an emotional support pet that helps her with anxiety and depression. Another help for anxiety and depression, said Levine, is practicing yoga.

Despite the chaos of the dog filled studio, Levine was able to stay focused and balanced—most of the time. “I mostly practice yoga at home so I’m used to having dogs around,” Levine said. “This is a fun way to bring that out of my home and into a new space.”

The class was held in a studio in Humboldt Park, at 2950 West Chicago Ave. Rescue in Style donated all proceeds from the class, which cost $20 per human and dog duo, to ALIVE Rescue, a no-kill non-profit shelter in Roscoe Village.

The mission at ALIVE Rescue is to save animals from Chicago shelters that have high euthanasia rates and may otherwise not be adopted.

“We follow through on our commitment that every animal deserves a full life by choosing to take in animals that other adoption organizations may overlook, including seniors, unpopular breeds, and pets with special needs,” said the organization, which opened in March 2008.

The rescue mission said events like this are a great way to raise awareness about the
pets awaiting adoption in their shelter. Christine Nendick, founder of Rescue in
Style, has volunteered in shelters around Chicago for years. She lives in the city with
her two adopted cats, Roni and Cheese. Christine founded Rescue in Style as a
way to combine fashion and adoption, and hopes the organization serves as a resource
for anyone hoping to adopt.

All proceeds from the BYODog to Yoga class went directly to the shelter. The partnership with Joriki clothes offered yogis a chance to shop for new athletic gear, with a portion of all proceeds also going to the shelter.

Christine said raising awareness for local shelters is also a main goal when hosting a
class like this. “I’ve partnered with many shelters in Chicago and truly admire all the work
ALIVE Rescue does for the animals in our city,” Nendick said. “I try to raise money
and awareness for rescue organizations across the city in hopes of showcasing all
the amazing work they are doing on behalf of our adoptable friends.”

On top of all the good this class will do for local animals in need, Nendick said she hopes it was also an active, enjoyable experience for yogis and their pups.

“It may not be the most serious yoga class, but I can guarantee it will be the most fun,” she said.

A new year, a new lifestyle

Take your New Year’s resolution to the next level with Lakeshore Sport & Fitness

What will you be resolving in 2018?

If you are like most people, your New Year’s resolution might include a health and wellness goal. Lakeshore Sport & Fitness, nestled in the heart of New Eastside at the corner of Lake and Stetson, 211 N. Stetson Ave., has some key tips to sticking to your
resolutions and achieving those goals.

New Year, new you!

Behavior based goals are easier to achieve and monitor. Instead of simply resolving to lose 10 pounds in one month, resolve to work out three times a week for four weeks, 30
minutes each time and limit meals after 6 p.m. “Failure happens when you aren’t able to monitor the behaviors that it will take to achieve your goal,” said Lakeshore Sport & Fitness General Manager, Stacey Coleman.

Keep it interesting
Boredom can also lead to failure. Now that you have your goal of working out three times a week for 30 minutes, how many dates with the treadmill can you go on and still stay

Lakeshore Sport & Fitness is one of the most robust and interactive health clubs in Chicago. With 120,000 square feet of sport, fitness and social space, the club never gets boring. Lakeshore Sport & Fitness makes mixing it up easy. Stop by for a heart pounding cycle class, scale the country’s tallest indoor rock wall, run on the indoor track, swim laps or relax during a candlelight yoga class. There is no need to have multiple memberships to get all of your needs. Lakeshore Sport & Fitness has it all under one roof.

Connect with like minded people
Relationships and community play a large role in living the lifestyle you want. Whether you want to play squash, golf, join a basketball league, or simply enjoy a nice dinner and drinks with friends, Lakeshore Sport & Fitness can connect you with a community of other
likeminded people.

Offering 100 weekly group fitness classes ranging from yoga and Pilates, to cycling, kickboxing, dance and HIIT, being around people that share similar interests helps
keep you excited and on track with your work out. Social Programming Director, Luis Davila, organizes club events and mixers that connect you with new and old friends, as well as team training groups that compete in races. “Being a part of a community really  helps motivate and encourage people to stay on their path,” Davila said. Make 2018 your year! Lakeshore Sport & Fitness is here to help.

Lakeshore Sport & Fitness
211. N Stetson Ave.
(312) 856-1111 /

Get fit and make friends in 2018 with Simply Social Sports

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

When the clock finally strikes 5 p.m. after a long workday, how do you choose
between happy hour and the gym? Well, what if you didn’t have to? That’s exactly
the idea at Simply Social Sports (S3) Sports Leagues.

With eight new leagues starting up in February, S3 Sports Leagues aims to combine sports and socialization. The co-ed leagues for this winter include bowling, whirly ball, dodgeball, indoor kickball, singles skeeball and volleyball.

“You’re there to be social, physical, active, get in shape and get out there,” said founder Ben Shimon, “We have a pretty unique concept we’ve got going that kind of hits on a whole bunch of potential new year’s resolutions.”

Chicago resident Eric Larson, who moved to the city just a few years ago, said S3 Sports has been the best way to make friends. “I would estimate about half the members are Chicago transplants, so it’s a great way to find a community,” Larson said.

Larson also enjoys attending the after parties that often include food and drink specials and karaoke. He also said players will also host house parties for their team, adding more social events to the calendar.

Once the leagues sell out—which they do each season—Shimon makes up teams
of half men and half women who are all in the same age range. Teams meet once
a week to face off in their game of choice, before all heading out for drinks sponsored by a different bar each week.

“Some people come out of it with a couple friends or with a couple dates or a boyfriend or girlfriend,” said Shimon, who added that he has seen S3 Sports spark a lot of relationships.

Registration is now open for winter leagues, with more information available on

Local fitness expert keeps residents in shape

By Shanti Nagarkatti for New Chicago Fitness

With 14 years of fitness industry experience and more than a decade as a Certified Personal Trainer, Anita Reyna, owner and founder of New Chicago Fitness, is helping
the residents of New Eastside keep fit.

Anita Reina (bottom left) and the New Chicago Fitness team. Photo courtesy of New Chicago

“I’m great at helping everyone,” Reyna said. “From athletes, to those recovering from in-
juries, to weight loss or muscle gain, any age group or health setback, you name it.”

Exercise has always been important to Reyna, who trained friends during college
and held summer jobs at fitness facilities.

After graduation, she decided to pursue opportunities in the fitness industry, work-
ing in Chicago gyms. In 2009, coinciding with her move to the Aqua building,
Reyna started her own personal training business, New Chicago Fitness.

NCF’s team consists of professional
personal trainers, massage therapists, and
boxing instructors operating out of New Eastside. “We all know each other and
treat each other like family and friends,” Reyna said.

In addition to personal training, NCF offers boot camp classes, like boxing and workout classes. On Saturdays, she leads a half-hour Abs Class from 10:00–10:30 a.m.
at the Aqua gym.

“We offer nutritional advice and get into the details to develop a well-rounded
approach. We help you create new and better routines that actually fit your life,”
said Reyna.

Reyna recommends clients come to Aqua’s 80,000-square-foot fitness facility within the Radisson Blu Hotel, 225 N. Columbus Dr., for an initial consultation.

For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit www.newchicagofitness.
com or call (312) 841-1377