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OUTDOOR FITNESS GUIDE: Four sports that will make you break a sweat and have fun

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Edmund White, Olivia Smoliga, Morgan Funke, and Mike Small

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a workout machine. His seven-day-a-week exercise routine puts to shame that of the “country’s fittest mayor,” Minneapolis’s R. T. Rybak, who, according to Men’s Fitness, claims a mere five. Three mornings a week, Rahm wakes up early, runs to the gym, and swims a mile in a 50-meter indoor pool. Then he does chest exercises and runs two miles back to his Ravenswood Manor home. The other two mornings, he rides 25 miles on a stationary bike, followed by a 15-minute turn on the elliptical, weights, 100 sit-ups, and 50 pushups. On Saturdays,
he bikes 20 miles outdoors. What day of rest? He practices yoga on Sundays.

Compared with that, Chicago’s fitness profile is downright pathetic. We’re currently at No. 12 (behind Boston, New York, and even New Orleans) on the Alliance for Biking and Walking’s 2012 list of athletic cities. And in a recent report by the Trust for America’s Health that ranked states by adult obesity rates, Illinois actually rose a few notches, from No. 28 to No. 23, with a wince-inducing 27 percent.

Fortunately, our chief calorie burner seems intent on making all of us a little more buff. In March he greenlighted a $290 million capital improvement package that will finance new boathouses and athletic fields and the acquisition of 180 acres of open space. A big chunk, $46 million, which includes private and federal funding, will go toward finishing the 2.7-mile Bloomingdale Trail, an elevated bike path stretching from Humboldt Park to Bucktown (target completion: fall 2014). Rahm has also announced a cycling initiative that will create 25 more miles of protected lanes and will add 3,000 bikes to a public share program by late summer. When all is said and done, every Chicagoan will live within a ten-minute walk of an upgrade, the mayor says.

But there are plenty of ways to get your heart pumping outside right now. We zeroed in on four sports—cycling, swimming, boating, and golf—that are popular, best enjoyed in the summertime, and, when done right, make you sweat (no golf carts!). We asked a standout athlete from each to serve as our guides. They shared their personal regimens, gave some pointers, and recommended top spots for novices. We rounded out their picks with our own for a range of fitness levels and budgets. Jump right in—Chicago will get in shape in no time.

 

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Photography: (all) Brian Kuhlmann; Assistants: (top right): Colin Beckett, Lauren Butterfield, Sarah Bruchman. (All others) Colin Beckett, John Ruzich; Stylist: Nicole Cap/Ford Artists. Location (bottom right): Harborside International Golf Center.

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