Thursday, January 31, 2013

Swoosh! Nike's NTC Hits Home in Lincoln Park

Nike's NTC Lincoln Park retail space on level one
Fans of Nike Training Club (NTC) can rejoice. The popular app that we know and love (and recently started loving a little more thanks to a smartphone upgrade) just went live in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. On Monday, Nike opened the doors to its first NTC location, a two-story shop complete with retail and studio space, at 833 W. Armitage.

On level one, you have your retail. You'll find your shoes, your training gear, your sports bras, your tops and bottoms, your carry-alls. Basically everything you'd want at Niketown (correction: Nike Chicago) on the Mag Mile has made its way to Armitage. Except for one tiny detail. NTC has all the women's gear a girl could want. No Air Jordans or football jerseys or any of the other stuff you breeze past inside Nike Chicago when your one-track-mind is sending you upstairs to the running and women's sections.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fit-Pic: Olympic Marathoner On Course

How'd you like to end your run by spotting this speed demon in front of you? She's none other than Shalane Flanagan, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in the 10,000m and marathoner extraordinaire. I'd recognize her compression socks and blonde hair anywhere--of course it helped that I knew she was in town. As if chasing Kara Goucher wasn't enough to start off yesterday's run, but now her training partner is running toward me at the end of the run. Two elite runners in one day--and probably two more, the guys flanking Shalane, whom I didn't recognize? I'm just lucky the camera's flash didn't go off (hence the iffy lighting). That would have been embarrassing.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chasing an Olympian: Kara Goucher is hard to catch!

I swear that's Kara Goucher's back side.
Chasing an Olympian is tough work. I know, I just returned sweaty, thirsty and a little achy from a run where I did exactly that.

That Olympian was Kara Goucher, who happens to be in Colorado Springs with Shalane Flanagan, Alan Webb, Lopez Lomong and a few other Olympic-caliber runners. They're training in and around the Olympic Training Center for three weeks--or so I learned from John at the Colorado Running Company (tip: befriend your neighborhood running store. They are pools of information.) and later confirmed by reading Innovation for Endurance.

I ran right by her at first. But there was something about the magenta top, capri tights and Nike Frees (at least I thought that's what she was wearing) on the ponytail-bobbing, sunglass-wearing runner that made me do a double take. This wasn't just an anonymous runner. This was Kara Goucher trying to be anonymous--or maybe simply running. It had to be her. The ponytail swinging. The dark hair. The build. The Nike outfit and Free shoes. Sure it took a few seconds to piece it all together, but when I did, I aborted my run route to follow her. After all, it's not every day you can run with, er behind, an Olympian. If you've followed Fit-Ink for a while you know how big of fans we are (I knew it was bad but I didn't realize we had all these Kara mentions), and you know how excited we'd get at the prospect of being that close to one of our running idols--and semi-running with them. And that's especially true when you've missed literally every other opportunity to run with her from Chicago media visits to running Boston in 2009 and sharing the same course (all stuff Liz has been lucky enough to do while I, in turn, could grow more green with envy).

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Fitness Resolution We Can Stick To

Is there really such a thing as the saddest day of the year? According to a UK psychologist, there is. He has a pseudo-scientific theory that the third Monday in January is "Blue Monday," the saddest day of the year.

It makes sense. We've just ushered in a new year full of surprises. We've welcomed the dead of winter where the cold, grey, snowy weather traps us indoors, and we don't have the holidays to keep the mood bright. We've made our resolutions--and probably already slipped up a few times especially if they border on the high expectation side. And then we're practically expected to fail at sticking to them--one-quarter drop their resolutions after the first week of the year and one-third by the end of January.

So instead of setting ourselves up for failure (or maybe never even attempting by already failing to name resolutions), Equinox wants us to stick it to the man. The fitness club that also calls itself a "temple of well-being" (their words, not mine) is on a mission to embrace fitness as more than a once-per-year goal, and one where we're most likely to fail. They're suggesting we give the January blues the boot.

How? By saying "F Blue Monday" and challenging yourself at the club's January Challenge. The premise is simple. Just workout. And if you're not sure where to start, Equinox can guide you with an entire month's worth of exercise suggestions (I'm already penciling days 4 and 14 as must-dos on my calendar because I've already fallen in love with the other high intensity options).

There's even an extra incentive for newbies.

Step one: Join Equinox.
Step two: Work out at least 12 times this month.
Step three: Accomplish step two and you'll get back the initiation fee you paid.

But hurry, the clock is ticking. Twelve days may have seemed like nothing on January 1, but we're almost halfway through the month. At least the New Year's rush is over--that first 25 percent have already quit their fitness resolutions. Can you do it? The 12 workouts in a month? We dare you!

Video provided by Equinox.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Five and Fabulous at The Bar Method Chicago

Confession: I should have been more vigilant when it came to following the holiday fitness tips from Lis Settimi and Catherine James, co-owners of The Bar Method Chicago. But as predicted, once the family arrived in town, the workouts just didn't happen (probably because I only penciled them into my daily plan, and spent the mornings sleeping and not sweating).

If I could get a Christmas week redo on the fitness front, I would. But since that's not happening, I'll just have to make it count in January. One place where I can do that--well, almost--is the newest outpost for The Bar Method, opening on January 26 in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. Located at 1 East Delaware, the new location makes The Bar Method promises lean thighs, flat abs and sculpted arms--the most accessible workout of its kind in Chicago and the largest Bar Method franchise in the country. The barre-based workout focuses on the largest muscles groups which changes the body faster, offers intervals which are proven to burn more calories, and penetrates deep into the muscles through small movements. Aren't Chicagoans lucky? I think so.

Here's where it really gets good. To celebrate these milestones and maybe even encourage more body-shaping exercise, The Bar Method created The Bar Method Anniversary Challenge: "We're Turning Five...You're Turning Fabulous!" The challenge invites new and current Bar Method clients to a five-week body transformation: 5 classes per week, 5 weeks, 5 studios to choose from. Challengers are eligible to win one of five Grand Prizes as well as motivational rewards along the way to transforming their bodies. 

And it couldn't have come at a better time--we're a little late to the posting party, but the promotion started Monday and runs until February 10. Maybe it's me but I'm digging the new client deal: The new client package that usually offers 30 days of unlimited classes for $100 has been extended to five weeks for $100, at least until Feb. 10. Hello, new year's fit resolutions. 

What a way to celebrate its fifth anniversary, don't you think? And I'm counting the days until I can try it. Gold Coast, here I come. 

Bar Method devotees...who's taking this fitness challenge? What can I expect from the barre-based workout when I try it later this month?

Photo courtesy of The Bar Method.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fit-Pic: Three, Two, One, Snowshoe

It's Sunday morning. It's January. It's after most of the holiday hype has cooled off. So why aren't these snow bunnies skiing? Because January 6 was the first snowshoe race of the season at Beaver Creek Ski Resort. Each winter the Beaver Creek Running Series offers a snowshoe edition with races held on and around the mountain in January, February and March that draw pro and amateur racers.

According to the race announcer, roughly 350 snowshoers took to today's 5K and 10K courses that wound up, down and around Beaver Creek's west side. These athletes make the race look easy. If you watched me on the trail, you'd probably think otherwise (I'm convinced I held up at least a dozen people when our course turned to slippery, downhill singletrack). But more on that tomorrow (and more pictures too)--I'm still warming up after standing around for too long this afternoon in wet socks and layers.


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