Minimum gravity, maximum workout.
Is your sweetheart bored with your weekend Netflix night? Or maybe you finally mustered up enough courage to ask out that hottie from spin class, and you know she won’t be impressed with a sit-down dinner. Whatever the case, you know you need to get a little more creative with your romantic plans. Spring in Chicago is the perfect time to add some adventure to your social life with an active date. Not only will you get to enjoy the nice weather, but you can also burn calories and show off your coordination skills to your (potential) mate – always a good thing.
"Making health-inspired connections is highly beneficial," says Chicago-based personal trainer DeAnna Bellamy of Body Revolution. Bellamy recently launched BODY DATE, personal training sessions that employ fun, unique exercises and workouts that get couples (and close friends) moving and breathing in sync to get sexy together. While she admits that having a healthy partner, friends and associates doesn't necessarily make getting fit easier, she says that trying new things and having that positive encouragement helps clients stay focused and can inspire new workout ideas, which keeps things exciting and fun. "It also allows you to learn new things about your workout partner," she says. "You kind of can't put up a front while you're sweating and trying to catch your breath."
Whether you're starting a new relationship, or trying to start a fire in an older one, these healthy, affordable activities make great alternatives to the tired old bar scene.
Free for Crunch members, $16 for a day pass
Crunch introduced antigravity yoga to Chicago in the fall and it's been quite popular at the Streeterville location of the "no judgements" gym chain (the much-talked-about spot on "The View" didn't hurt). A hybrid of aerial performance, trapeze and yoga, this class utilizes hammocks made of durable fabric to help you invert and get deeper into poses, making it an easy sell for both the yoga enthusiast and the struggling newbie.
Besides learning yoga terms, you and your date will also get a pretty intense upper-body workout from hoisting yourselves up into the hammocks, enjoy a nice detoxifying boost from going into inversions like star pose, and end utterly relaxed after spending a few minutes wrapped up in cocoon pose. You'll both leave relaxed enough to enjoy a leisurely stroll to nearby Navy Pier, or at least be in the right frame of mind to brave the Mag Mile shopping frenzy.
Moonlight Canoe and Kayak Paddle
$45 per person, including boat rental and dinner
Nature enthusiasts and outdoor-sports types won't want to miss Chicago River Canoe & Kayak's Moonlight Dinner Paddle. The trip, which begins at Clark Park (3400 N. Rockwell), offers a chance to see nature in Chicago (think beavers, turtles, ducks and maybe a heron or two) while scoring an easy upper-body workout. Halfway through the trip, the group stops and enjoys a Mediterranean dinner from Noon O Kabab (grilled chicken skewers or vegetarian plate options) before paddling back and wrapping up the three-hour tour. This excursion is decidedly low-impact, as it's designed to offer participants a relaxing glimpse of a new side of Chicago. If you and your sweetheart have previous kayaking and canoeing experience, consider the much longer Peddle and Paddle Bike and Boat Tours, downtown Skyscraper Tour and also Cardio Kayak classes.
You don't need to be a member of an expensive tennis club to enjoy a few games of tennis with your date. The Chicago Park District makes it easy, simple and affordable. Just pay the yearly membership fee ($10 for city residents) and court time at two of the most popular tennis locations - McFetridge Sports Center and Daley Bicentennial Plaza in Millennium Park - is just $17-$24 an hour, depending on when you book. Just think of how many times you'll use the word "love" during a match.
Call (312) 742-PLAY or visit the Chicago Park District website for more information.
If you don't have a partner to play with, or you want to play doubles, Lakeshore Athletic Club's Friday Social Tennis Mixer offers a healthy way to meet some new friends. For $37 ($30 for members), you'll get two and a half hours of tennis, followed by two drinks and pizza. Call or reserve online.
photo: Ronald Leon Hale IV
If both you and your date are fans of yoga and aren't afraid to get up close and personal, AcroYoga may help fuel the fire in your relationship. A mix of yoga, acrobatics and Thai massage, this practice is all about learning to trust one another, have fun and try out a few awe-inspiring poses. One person acts as the base while the other flows into seemingly gravity-defying poses. That doesn't mean the heavier person in the relationship is out of luck; while the "flyer" gets the chance to experience that weightless feeling of aviation, the base person is given a big thank you with a few gentle Thai massage moves. AcroYoga is about much more than turning upside down and showing off how flexible you are, but after a class full of touching, playing and laughing, you'll definitely want to get close to your partner.
Classes take place at Nature Yoga Sanctuary in Wicker Park and at Moksha Yoga (Lakeview) and cost from $16-$17. Second Nature Studio in Lincoln Park offers a donation AcroYoga class on Monday nights.
Hit the Bike
Want to take your mate on a trip, but can't afford the airfare? Escape the daily grind by planning a personal cycling tour around the city. Reserve your wheels from Bobby's Bike Hike or Bike Chicago for about $35 a day, check out the Chicago bike map for detailed paths and create a ride that's as easy or challenging as you think your date can handle. Sweeten the deal with a romantic picnic at one of Chicago's scenic parks, or swing by your favorite restaurant or bar for an energizing snack or refreshing beverage.
If you're not one for mapping, for $45 per adult, Bobby's Bike Hike offers a four-hour, 20-mile "Obama's Chicago tour" of our President's former Hyde Park digs, including a stop at one of Obama's favorite restaurants for brunch.