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Summer activities that are secretly a workout

Nicole Ross

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With bikini season around the corner, now’s the time to step up your weekly workout. But if you’re like most people, a cramped gym is the last place you want to spend a bright summer day. Don’t give up yet: we explored the city to find fun ways to get your heart pumping—minus the treadmill.

High Intensity Training

It seems like a cruel joke. Just as the Ray’s student memberships expire, down the street Annette’s reopens its ice cream window. If you don’t want to pay for a summer pass—granted, it is only $42—junior Daphne Resulta recommends taking your workout to a nearby park.

“Both Oz Park and Jonquil are just blocks from campus,” Resulta said. “They’re perfect for high intensity training, and they have enough room for drills, sprints and stuff like that.”

A popular circuit-training plan at DePaul—and around the globe—is Australian star Kayla Itsines’ 12-week Bikini Body Guide, which can be downloaded to your phone. Most of the exercises require minimal equipment, so you can fit everything you need in a small bag and take it to your favorite spot.

“I love Kayla workouts because they’re quick and intense,” junior Megan Spiess said.

Each week of the program is sectioned into three days, each of which consists of a 30-minute rotation of either legs and cardio, arms and abs or a full body workout. Visit Itsines’ Instagram page @kayla_itsines to see participants’ before and after photos.

“There are also Nike workout events in the city all of the time that are fun,” Spiess said.

Rock Climbing

If you’ve driven down Chicago’s famous Lake Shore Drive, chances are you’ve noticed Maggie Daley Park’s 40-foot climbing wall. Just east of Millennium Park, the outdoor wall is the perfect place to harness your inner Spiderman—and engage those core muscles.

Open April through October, the wall is divided into a beginner and advanced sections with three different types of climbing: bouldering, top rope and lead. Rock climbing is a full-body workout, strengthening large muscles in your back and shoulders to often-overlooked areas like your chest and forearms.

Outdoor Yoga

Calling all yogis: Sun & Moon Beach Yoga has classes ($20) on North Avenue Beach—as long as you don’t mind getting a little sandy. For unlimited yoga, you can purchase a summer season pass (valid through September 5) for $150.

“[Yoga] is a really nice break form the normal routine and I feel a lot better after I do it,” exiting junior Monica Supple said.

Take your practice to the next step with SUP yoga—that’s “Stand Up Paddleboard” for newbies. And yes, that means that there’s nothing in between you and the water but a paddleboard and your asanas. Chicago SUP Yoga off Montrose offers classes from $50 for an hour and a half session. The best part: certain classes let you to bring your dog along.

On a budget? FFC Halsted offers free outdoor yoga classes at Belmont Harbor on Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 p.m. to 12 p.m.

Running/Biking Routes

According to Shape Magazine, the spinning renaissance that’s re-emerged from the 90s is at the top of the charts for current workout trends, with little pocket studios like SoulCycle and Fly Wheel drawing fitness gurus nationwide. But warm weather is a well-cherished rarity here in Chicago, and spending a summer day—not to mention this week’s paycheck—inside a spin studio sounds less than ideal.

That’s why Spiess recommends taking it outdoors on a good old-fashioned bike ride. “You can make it as intense as you want, or just get a little exercise riding around the city,” Spiess said.

Grab a friend and a Divvy, or—if you prefer something a little sportier—stop by Lakeshore Bike (3650 N. Recreation Drive). The owner-operated shop adjacent to the Lakefront Trail sells, repairs and rents a range of road, race and hybrid bikes from $10 an hour. Via Lake Shore Drive, the route from the Lincoln Park campus to Lake Point Tower is about a seven-mile trip.

While we’re back to the basics, it appears as though running will never go out of style—that is, judging by the mass of people trotting down Lake Shore Drive.

If you’re a runner or have dreams to become one, Lincoln Park is about as scenic as it gets. Heading east from campus, the route to the Lincoln Park Zoo around South Pond and back has clear views of the downtown skyline and totals about three miles.

And do stop at Annette’s on the way home. You deserve it.

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Summer activities that are secretly a workout