Pamper your pet this winter

by Mat Cohen

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs need 30 minutes to two hours of exercise a day, depending on size and breed. Although they don’t say much about pampering, our best friends could use some luxury as well.

When it’s dark at 5 p.m. and below freezing in the middle of the Chicago winter, luxury pet services providers are there for your pooch.

When people get away to warmer places, dog resort Paradise 4 Paws has locations next to O’Hare and Midway. It offers massage therapy, a spa, grooming and 20,000 square feet of space.

There’s also A La Carte Services to spoil your furry friend. For example, its Taste of Paradise package offers peanut butter and frozen treats. The Let’s Play package includes an outdoor hike and the Heavenly Pampering package offers personal cuddle time.

Paradise 4 Paws works with Pooch Hotel, which has locations in the South Loop, Lincoln Park and West Loop. Morgan Fontes, general manager of the West Loop location, said demand for their services increases during the winter.

“We see a big increase for the majority of our services offered, but generally our highest margin is within our grooming services,” she said. “Most of our parents have more family visits over the winter due to (the holidays) and they all want clean dogs to have at home.”

Streeterville dog walker, Jennifer Jakubiak, has a strategy to brave the winter months.

“Proper gear,” she said. “I have down jackets, boots, everything you can possibly imagine to truck in this weather. It’s hard though.”

Jakubiak uses a dog-walking app called Rover and has four dogs to entertain everyday in the cold.

“It takes a lot to have a dog in the city just because it is a lot of responsibility,” she said. “But they love me and I love it.”

Dog owners who don’t have access to an extreme, cold-weather walker can use daycares, winter coats and booties, all feeding the pet industry. The American Pet Products Association estimated the industry to be worth $75.3 billion in 2019.

Dan Rubenstein, CEO and founder of Pups Pet Club, said the winter months are just as hard on dogs as on humans.

“If you’re cold, imagine what your dog is feeling,” he said. “You have layers of sweaters, and jackets, and gloves and your dog is completely exposed.”

Pups Pet Club, which opened a Streeterville location at 316 W. Illinois St. last spring, gets an influx of participants in the winter. Rubenstein has advice for dog owners.

“Use your apartment hallways without destroying them,” he said. “But ultimately, your dog still needs an hour and half of exercise per day.”

As winter lingers, the dogs coming into Pups Pet Club are about ready to burst, just like humans, Rubenstein said.

“In the winter months we kind of hibernate, so when we have an opportunity to get out to the gym or on vacation somewhere warm, we really explode with all this energy and enthusiasm.” 

City Pets, at 432 E. Grand Ave., offers grooming, daycare and winter products. Owner Lisa Harper sells Saltsox Winter Boots to help protect paws.

“We’ve tried all different brands and we like those because they’re durable and they stay on the best,” she said.

Realistic resolutions: Keep ‘new year, new you’ working

Gym managers say setting smaller goals along the way helps

by Mat Cohen

You’re not alone. According to  Strava, a social network for athletes, most people don’t keep their  New Year’s resolutions past Jan. 12. That’s when, just nearly two weeks after the start of the year, lack of motivation creeps out like a monster from under the bed. 

Roughly 55 percent of resolutions are health-related, according to The Personality and Social  Psychology Bulletin, so how can we avoid biting off more than we  can chew in early January?

Head trainer Kelsey Slotter from Planet Fitness at 240 E. Illinois St. has some ideas. 

Slotter says finding other people with like-minded goals can  keep people motivated.

“We offer free fitness training that is included with all our  memberships,” she said. “Utilize group training classes to provide the encouragement, energy and motivation you need to reach your goals during the holidays.”

Lakeshore Sport & Fitness assistant general manager Luis  Davila says having a solid foundation to grow upon and utilizing  a fitness assessment the gym includes for new members, is important for hitting goals.

“It’s important for people to  understand resources when setting fitness goals,” said Davila  who explained that setting smaller goals can help along the way. 

“One thing might not be the answer for the full year and you might  need to change it up,” he said. “I think that’s critical to understand when people are setting their goal.”

Slotter believes enjoying small victories on the path to reaching a  bigger goal is as important as celebrating the final accomplishment.  Planet Fitness has a pizza party planned for January to keep the pressures of a resolution at bay.

“Ten minutes on the treadmill can lift your mood and help you get through the day,” Slotter said. “Schedules this time of year may  not allow for a longer workout, which is okay, but just hit the gym when you can.”

For those with kids, Davila, a  father, says the family member- ship at LSF which includes free  childcare and a family play space is great for him.

“It’s hard for me to even come in and work out in the mornings,” he said. “Having that option during group classes, during your  regular routine, that is an absolutely huge help as far as breaking  a barrier to entry and a commitment to year-long fitness goals.” 

Both locations offer new year promotions on membership. For more information visit and  

Local kids scale walls, shoot hoops as cold weather sets in

by Angela Gagnon

There are plenty of nearby options to help kids stay active as winter approaches.

Lakeshore Sports and Fitness (LSF), 211 N. Stetson Ave., is offering new children’s programming for members and nonmembers. Youth basketball classes, including group and private lessons, are available for kids aged 4 and up. Kids nine months and up can learn to swim, and older kids can hone their skills in the water with swimming lessons in the pool. LSF also has a seven-story indoor climbing wall with climbing lessons for kids aged 6 and up. 

“We want to get everyone excited about working out and being healthy,” said LSF General Manager Jarrett Brown. “We also want to build a sense of community for kids and families in the neighborhood and bring healthy habits home.” 

Besides organized classes, LSF also has a new kids playroom available to all members and their little ones during club hours. According to Brown, the play area provides a safe space for kids to run around and enjoy open play with others. Parents and caregivers are required to stay and supervise their children but it’s a good opportunity to socialize.

For more information on programming and offerings at LSF, contact Jarrett Brown at or call (312) 856-1111. Information is also available at

To keep kids’ climbing skills sharp during the winter months, there are two indoor climbing wall facilities in Chicago that offer youth programs. 

First Ascent, 108 N. State St., is on the fourth floor of Block 37 and offers age-based progressive programs for kids of all abilities. Their teachings provide a structured approach to help kids become skilled and confident climbers. 

Brooklyn Boulders, 100 S. Morgan St. in the West Loop, offers kids climbing classes, private youth coaching, climbing teams and Adventure Days on select school holidays. They seek to instill a strong sense of self-confidence, teach problem-solving skills and improve concentration, movement and spatial awareness. 

For those who don’t mind a little chill in the air, Maggie Daley Park’s ice skating ribbon will open mid-November. Kids can have fun exercising while skating on the unique and festive winding ice ribbon. Admission is free, and skate rental is available for a fee in the field house. 

“Parents can model healthy behavior at home,” Brown said. “Encourage kids to be active. Walk through the pedways together, dance, move around, do any type of sporting activity.” 

Or bundle up and head to Lakeshore East Park to run around in the field or enjoy the new playground equipment.

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

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