Top Reasons Chicago Is Such a Fit City

winter fitness in chicago factor 75

We’ve all rubbernecked watching a blonde jog past on Lakefront Trail.

Or drooled over Frisbee players at Wicker Park.

How do these Chicago hotties stay in shape—especially when we’re under eight feet of snow for six months?

I wanted to know: what keeps Chicagoans so sexy? Or…are we as fit as we think?

Our favorite fitness innovators in Chicago weigh in with their winter fitness tips.


1. We’re So Damn Competitive

John Schrieffer_orangetheoryfitness-factor-75Chicago is such a fit city because we have to be.  It is a very competitive city in terms of people needing to stay on top of their careers and social lives, and fitness plays such a key role in in keeping up with the lifestyle.

John Schrieffer | Owner of  Orangetheory Fitness, Wicker Park-Bucktown

 So, John, how do you stay fit?

Staying consistent with exercise is all about finding what works for you. If you have to force yourself into it each time, odds are that you are not going to stay with it long enough to see results. Don’t set yourself up for failure from the start. “Working out” can be anything…from taking the dog for a long walk (instead of sitting at the dog park), a bike ride along the lake, or a game of basketball or golf without the cart.

 2. We Host All the Things

Aparna_HighStride_factor-75Chicago is the stage of world class events, from the amazing Chicago Marathon, to the Shamrock Shuffle (the largest 8K in the world!) and the International Triathlon Union Grand Final. With so many events to test your abilities—not to mention the uninterrupted 18 miles of gorgeous lakefront trail for runners, cyclists and walkers—there’s no winter that can stop us!

Aparna Misra | Co-founder at HighStride

Ugh. Winter. Any advice?

The winter is tough, no doubt, but provides a great opportunity to experiment with reaching new objectives. Every winter I try to find a new indoor challenge—yoga, barre, spinning, or CrossFit—to build fitness in areas where I’m lacking.

 3. We Innovate Indoors

Thanks to long, unpredictable winters, Chicago has become a mecca for boutique fitness studios. The demand to get indoors and workout in like-minded groups helps keep people engaged and motivated. The variety available is astounding. I’ve seen everything from yoga with your dog to treadmill running clubs.

Michael Wollpert | Founder of TRAINology Fitness

What’s your mantra, Michael?

My biggest mantra at TRAINology Fitness is, “excuses don’t make champions!”  It’s very easy to say it’s too cold, dark, etc., but we all feel better after moving, sweating, and hopefully having fun in the process.

 4. Our Neighborhoods Promote Fitness…Or Not

John Contreras_matchup-factor-75I think fitness in Chicago varies by the neighborhood and proximity to downtown Chicago. The further away you get from downtown, the harder it is to conveniently walk anywhere and take public transportation. As someone who lives in the suburbs and commutes in everyday, it’s easy to see the contrast. I believe the environment plays a big role in people’s health.
John Contreras | Co-Founder and CEO at Matchup


How can we overcome our environment?
Don’t do it alone. The more stressful your life is, the harder it becomes to maintain the willpower and self-control to eat right, sleep enough, and get regular exercise. Having a group of people that help you stay accountable and join you in this lifestyle is critically important.


5. Winter Doesn’t Stop Us

Collins_Gretchen-factor-75Despite the winter, Chicago has various recreational sports leagues offered year round. Plus, we have numerous outdoor green spaces available for different types of fitness classes—from winter boot camps, to spring yoga in the park. And, the lakefront! What more could we ask for than the beautiful lakefront for walking, running, biking or open-water swimming?

Gretchen Collins | Director of Fitness at East Bank Club

What’s your winter fitness tip?

Sign up for a summer race to keep you motivated and on track to meet your goals throughout a tough winter. Layer up and go out for a run—the cold weather will force your body to work harder to stay warm and burn some extra calories!

pound-founders-factor-75.pngMake sure you always have a few backup DVDs on hand when weather becomes a potential excuse. Need the motivation of a groupand social.

Cristina Peerenboom & Kirsten Potenza | Founders of POUND


So, to recap…

We are success-hungry, marathon-loving, winter-proof mothaf*ckahs.

We’re no stranger to poor weather and seasonal depression, but we find ways to stay motivated.

Thanks to supportive friends, advice from our fav health peeps above (great interviews guys!), and a fitness-promoting infrastructure, we’re a city of fighters (who are hot as hell). Here’s to you, Chicago! #staysexy

Featured Image courtesy of Chicago Sun Times

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