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7 unique ways to get a workout in Chicago

Written by
Sara Freund
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It can be hard to squeeze in a workout, especially when all you have to look forward to is a sweat-covered treadmill at your local fitness center. But in Chicago you don’t have to force yourself to go to the gym in order to burn calories. Here are some of the most interesting ways to get fit in the city.

1. Six Pack Country Beach Party

It's hard to get out of bed for a workout, but maybe a beach volleyball tournament with a barbecue and drinks will change your mind. Chicago Sport and Social Club hosts all-level volleyball and spikeball tournaments from 9am–6pm this year at VolleyFest. They’ll even have cornhole tournaments for those who’d prefer to have a drink in their hand while playing a sport. (North Avenue Beach, 1600 N Lake Shore Dr, June 25. $80–$200 per team, $25–$35 individual)

2. Aerial Yoga at AIR Aerial Fitness

Haven’t tried aerial yoga? It’s a fusion between athletic conditioning, ballet, Pilates and yoga moves on giant silk hammocks. This Chicago-based company offers a range of classes for beginners and more advanced yogis alike. (AIR Aerial Fitness Lincoln Park, 2217 N Clybourn Ave. $30 per class)

3. Kayak down the Chicago River

Hop into your own boat and paddle through the heart of Chicago while getting a tan and toning those arms. Urban Kayaks will let you roam free in one- or two-person kayaks with hourly rentals. They also give unique tours of the city, including a Sunset Tour, a Paddle and Pints Tour and a guided tour of Chinatown. (Urban Kayaks Riverwalk, 435 E Riverwalk South, 9am–6pm. $30 per person rental, $65–$100 per person tours)

4. Try a hip-hop dance class

Get a workout in and learn Beyoncé-worthy dance routines with a class at Chicago Dance. Over four weeks, you’ll learn fresh hip-hop moves and burn a ton of calories without even noticing. You don’t need any experience, but if hip-hop still isn’t your thing, they also teach classes in swing, salsa and tango. (Chicago Dance, 415 W Huron St, Mon–Fri 3–9pm, Sat 10am–5pm. $60 4-week class, $15 single drop-in class)

5. Grab a Game

Commitment is hard, and a lot of times it's expensive. If you're living the low-budget life, a great way to get fit is with Grab a Game, where you can choose from weekly games or mini-tournaments. Anyone, alone or in a group, can find weekly pick-up games for sports like volleyball, basketball and soccer. (Various locations and dates, $10–15 per event)

6. Venture out on a day hike

The city can be stifling in the summer heat, but you can escape with a trip just a few hours outside of Chicago and explore the Midwest prairie lands and wilderness. The Chicago Sierra Club offers bike tours, canoe trips and day hikes year-round to places like Starved Rock State Park and the Porcupine Mountains as well as sunset hikes through Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary. Check out the calendar here.

7. Join a kickball league

If middle school recess was your jam, then you know one way to work up a sweat is to kick a red rubber ball high over a fence. Get ready to run the bases and pretend you’re a kid again when you sign up for a kickball league at Chicago Sport and Social Club. (Various locations and dates, $880–$1,050 team, $95–$100 individual)

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