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MORGAN FUNKE, 31
C.R.A.S.H.-B world rowing indoor champion (master women); member, LPJ Chicago Masters rowing team (pictured second from front)
Funke’s gold-medal-winning crew team practices three nights a week on the Chicago River and once indoors. Practice starts at 6:15, and the team rows until 8 or 8:30, depending on the light, completing an eight- to ten-kilometer route through the Loop to Chinatown. Funke, who’s also training for the Ironman competition, supplements with workouts at RowFit, a rowing and CrossFit gym in West Town. “I’m at the gym at 6 a.m.,” she says, “often doing Rowing Boot Camp,” which consists of two- to five-minute rowing intervals interspersed with lunges, kettle swings, and jumping rope. To cross-train, she runs or bikes.
1. FOR BEGINNING ROWERS: The Frances K. Mennone and Bruce H. Smith Floating Boathouse in Lincoln Park holds six-week Learn to Row classes that gently, but thoroughly, tutor newcomers. “It starts with the basics,” Funke says. “By the time you get on the water, you feel really prepared and knowledgeable.” The next session runs May 29 to July 3. North Avenue and Kingsbury Street (enter from the Old Navy parking lot); lpjchicago.com. From $125 EXPERT PICK
2. FOR KAYAKERS: There are plenty of spots to rent a kayak, but Kayak Chicago goes a step further, offering guided tours, lessons (from intro to advanced), and rentals at three locations: the Chicago River (near the intersection of Le Moyne Street and Magnolia Avenue), Montrose Beach, and North Avenue Beach. We’re partial to the night paddle, a guided three-hour tour during which you can admire the reflection of city lights on the river. 630-336-7245, kayakchicago.com. Rentals from $20 an hour; tours from $55
3. FOR CANOERS: Reed’s Canoe Trips sends paddlers down the Kankakee River, a beginner-friendly Class I waterway (a few ripples and small waves) that offers enough scenery and wildlife to keep more experienced boaters entertained. Reed’s provides 17-foot canoes, paddles, life jackets, and transportation (park at the headquarters at 907 North Indiana Avenue in Kankakee). Our pick: a 12-mile tour that winds through the state park. 815-932-2663, reedscanoetrips.com. Tours from $56
4. FOR PADDLEBOARDERS: The only one-stop paddleboard shop in the city, the Great Lakes Board Company brings a laid-back California vibe to North Avenue Beach. For the uninitiated, paddleboarding is a great workout: Try SUPyo, Great Lakes’ yoga-meets-paddleboard hybrid, where students practice poses like side plank or tabletop while balancing on a floating board. On the bike path, south of Castaways Bar and Grill; 773-575-4787, greatlakesboardcompany.com. Rentals from $25 an hour
EXPERT ADVICE: HOW TO EXECUTE A POWER STROKE
“A lot of people think that rowing is upper body, but it is a leg-dominant sport,” Funke says. The perfect stroke can be broken down into three parts: legs, body, arms.
(1) Start seated with your knees at your chest, arms straight, body forward.
(2) Push your heels down and shoot your legs straight. Swing your core back so you are sitting with your torso at 11 o’clock.
(3) Finish by bringing your arms into your chest.
Photograph: Brian Kuhlmann; Assistants: Colin Beckett, John Ruzich; Stylist: Nicole Cap/Ford Artists; Illustrations: John Kenzie