It's summer! Get out of the gym and onto the lakefront. Who says a workout has to be work?
NORTH AVENUE BEACH
If Chicago's fitness fanatics have a lakefront mecca, it's the brightly colored ocean liner (actually an eight-year-old $7-million beach house) “docked” at North Avenue Beach (1600 N. Lake Shore Dr.; 312-742-7529). Rent bikes, volleyball equipment, and chairs at the beach house, which also provides showers and an opportunity for some post-workout indulgences at the rooftop Castaways Bar & Grill (773-281-1200).
Join a co-ed or same-sex volleyball team through Players Sports Group, which organizes a seven-game, summer-long season and seeded playoffs at North Avenue Beach; it also offers clinics for all levels of play. The cost for league play is $95 to $545; individual sign-ups are welcome. The eight-week-long clinics cost $85 (773-528-1999 or playerssports.net).
The AVP beach tournament (that's the Association of Volleyball Professionals) takes over North Avenue Beach on July 11th to 13th (http://web.avp.com).
Finally, if your idea of a strenuous workout is pawn to e4, head to the Chess Pavilion south of the beach house.
Getting there: Parking at North Avenue Beach is at a premium. Try the small lot adjacent to the beach, or go a little north at Fullerton Parkway behind the Lincoln Park Zoo. Take the CTA's 72 (North Avenue) or 22 (Clark Street) bus to the Chicago History Museum (at North and Clark); walk east to the underpass beneath Lake Shore Drive to get to the beach.
Based in a Lake View studio (655 W. Irving Park Rd.), the Yoga Boutique expands to the lakefront come summer. Its once-weekly, hourlong hatha yoga class meets by the clock tower at Waveland Golf Course (known today as the Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course; the tower is situated near Irving Park Road and the lakefront). Seeking to meld the active energies of the sun and the passive energies of the moon, the class meets Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. (Take a mat and $15 in cash for the drop-in fee, or preregister for multiclass or monthly packages.) The boutique's rigorous Boot Camp meets Mondays at 7 p.m. at the studio for a brief warm-up before heading to the lakefront for cardio, stretching, and strength-training drills ($15; 773-248-0685 or theyogaboutiquechicago.com).
Stretching from Osterman Beach (5800 north) to the South Shore Cultural Center (7100 south), Chicago's 18-mile Lakefront Trail is a thing of beauty—and, in the summer, as congested as the Dan Ryan. Even the southern half of the trail, which only a few years ago was almost eerily empty, has experienced increased traffic since the rebirth of the South Loop and many South Side neighborhoods. That doesn't mean city cyclists should forgo riding along Lake Michigan. Just keep in mind: The farther you are from (pick one) downtown/the weekend/summer, the less crowded and more enjoyable the ride. Try exploring some less heavily traveled parts of the lakefront, such as the pathways circling the Jackson Park lagoons (at 59th Street, south of the Museum of Science and Industry) or the myriad trails in Illinois Beach State Park (from Zion to the Wisconsin border; 847-662-4811 or http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/parks/r2/ilbeach.htm).
Most beaches and other lakefront destinations are accessible by bicycle. Sheridan Road is a favorite route for northbound cyclists, and the Green Bay Bike Trail and the Robert McClory Bike Path generally provide good access to Lake Michigan from Wilmette to Zion, even though the trails are a little removed from the water. Contact the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation for a map of all area cycling trails ($6.95; 312-427-3325 or biketraffic.org).
Bike Chicago rents adult and kids' bikes, tandems, and in-line skates at Navy Pier, North Avenue and Foster beaches, and other inland locations; it also offers a two-to three-hour lakefront tour, departing each morning from Millennium Park and Navy Pier. Hourly and daily rentals cost from $8 to $45; tours, which include a bike, cost from $15 to $30 depending on the cyclist's age and the day of the week. (For more information, call 773-404-2500 or go to bikechicago.com.)
HOW-TO: Serve, Bump, Set, Spike
4 necessary positions to master before you hit the courts
Serve: Toss ball; in one motion, swing hitting arm up and through
Bump: Extend forearms, angled slightly down; lace fingers; lock elbows
Set: Using your thumbs and index fingers, form a diamond above your forehead
Spike: Pull hitting arm back behind head; swing forward and snap wrist