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Lakefront Trail  Credit_ William Perugin

THRIVING IN THE CITY: URBAN WELLNESS IN CHICAGO

By Duane Wells

With the end of winter near, many Chicagoans are contemplating spring’s bloom as the hibernal months end and warmer climes beckon the coming season. While they wait, residents look forward to returning to traditional active pursuits and an expanding urban wellness landscape with a holistic approach to physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And Chicago residents have long embraced the opportunity to work out in the great outdoors...with good reason.
 

Through its We Move Chicago initiative, the Chicago Park District -— which manages more than 8,000 acres of open space — promotes, educates, and motivates Chicagoans to adopt a healthier lifestyle by moving more and eating better. Offering fitness and nutrition classes along with 70 fitness centers, the Chicago Park District delivers a high-quality, low-cost workout option for anyone looking to increase their physical activity.
 

Likewise, Chicago offers many options for biking, jogging, running, and walking amidst the city’s landmarks and treasures. One place to engage in fitness is the Chicago Lakefront Trail, the grand dame of the local running scene. Not only does the trail afford runners an 18-mile paved path, but it also offers phenomenal views of the lake and the downtown skyline alongside sights like Navy Pier, the Museum Campus, and Soldier Field.
 

Similarly, a jog on the South Side through the Hyde Park neighborhood offers a picturesque 5- to 7-mile tour that encompasses the University of Chicago and some of the city’s most historic townhomes. At the same time, the Bloomingdale Trail — popularly referred to as the 606 — serves up a scenic path for walkers, runners, bikers, and families with multiple access points across Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park, four of Chicago’s most well-trafficked neighborhoods.

Beyond traditional fitness activities, Chicagoans (like many nationwide) believe that wellness should focus on overall mental and spiritual well-being as much as building muscle and burning calories. Responding to this need, mindfulness and meditation studios have popped up across the city, providing urban dwellers a sanctuary to cultivate inner peace through guided meditation sessions, mindfulness workshops, and stress-relief programs that help patrons find balance in a fast-paced world.

Wellness spas like Lume -— located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood — offer cryotherapy, vitamin IV drips, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and massages. From June through September, Millennium Park provides a unique outdoor studio where Chicagoans and visitors can be energized in the form of Summer Workouts. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, enjoy free 45-minute classes on the Great Lawn including yoga, strength training, Pilates, and more.

Yoga at Millennium Park Credit_ City of

Meanwhile, at Aire Ancient Baths, which is located in a restored 1900s factory in River West, guests are taken on a candlelit journey through traditional Roman, Greek, and Ottoman baths. Baths are provided via a series of thermal pools, warm marble beds offer further relaxation, and various treatments are available including a Himalayan Salt Ritual with a salt body scrub and massage.
 

Even Chicago’s culinary scene is embracing the philosophy of wellness. Many restaurants and cafes now offer nutritious and balanced meal options for various dietary preferences. Additionally, cooking classes and workshops geared toward healthy eating habits have become popular, providing residents throughout Chicagoland with the knowledge and skills necessary for making mindful food choices.
 

Chicago’s urban wellness scene caters to every taste and need. The city has something for everyone, whether you’re seeking affordable fitness options, bike and jogging trails, a spa experience, or a mindfulness practice. The Windy City remains a place where residents and visitors can thrive holistically, thanks to numerous wellness havens promoting healthier, more balanced lives.

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