Category Archive: Inspiration

Strong Body, Strong Mind: Remember Who You’re Here For


Our fitness editor talks about finding deeper meaning — and personal connection — in workouts.

It’s hard to work out simply for the sake of it. No matter how much you enjoy your fitness regimen (and I sincerely hope you at least sometimes find pleasure in exercise), it’s easy to put off a gym session until tomorrow, until next week, until January 1.

You might go to bed telling yourself you should wake up early to go for a run. But how many times do you hit snooze and linger in bed for an extra hour? I’ve lost count of the number of times that knowing I should simply wasn’t enough.

When it comes to goal-setting in fitness, identifying your why is a common first step. And for good reason: If you can connect your actions to something meaningful — be it improving your health to live long enough to meet your grandchildren, accomplishing a lifelong goal of completing an Ironman, or having the strength to carry all the groceries into the house in one trip — you improve your chances of showing up and doing the work to achieve these goals.

Saying I should get up to run has set me up for failure and disrupted my sleep. But identifying my why — for instance, my love of watching the sunrise on a cool morning or building up the stamina to run a race two months down the line — is plenty to get me moving. This links my workouts to something beyond just working out; it takes me out of some momentary discomfort by focusing on something I truly want or believe in.

In recent years, though, I’ve found yet another powerful source of motivation: naming my who.

The first time I worked out with someone else in mind was in 2010, when my cousin Louisa asked if I’d run a half-marathon with her to celebrate her 50th birthday. I wasn’t a runner and had never imagined running a 5K, let alone a 13.1-mile course. Yet I agreed without hesitation.

The reality of training hit me only later, but by then I was committed. I often tried to convince myself it was OK not to run — because it was hard, because it was hot, because it was cold, because I was tired, because I was self-conscious. But each time, I remembered that every step leading up to the race celebrated Louisa. It was easier to show up for her than to show up for the training, or even for the race. By showing up for her, I ultimately showed up for myself.

More recently, I was invited to name a new who: Kelly Richards. You might not know Kelly, and neither did I, but as soon as I heard her story I felt connected. The manager of Life Time’s Target Center club in Minneapolis, Kelly is a triathlete who loves dancing, Bitmojis, New Kids on the Block, the Seattle Seahawks, and her friends. And back in August, Kelly was involved in a horrifying bike accident that caused serious brain injuries. In a moment, she went from a fun-loving, big-hearted athlete to a woman in a coma fighting for her life.

Her colleagues rallied around her to design a benefit workout with a party atmosphere. Rally for Richards — a triathlon of sorts, comprising an Alpha workout, a cycling workout, and a yoga session — raised money for Kelly’s treatment and hoped-for recovery.

Additionally, it gave the people in her life a chance to come together to support her and each other.

That night, dozens of us worked out side by side, breaking a sweat and pushing our physical limits. But the workouts were more than just exercise.

“Remember who you’re here for,” drilled one of the coaches leading the Alpha crew as we slogged through an interval circuit of box jumps, kettlebell swings, burpees, jumping rope, and rowing. It was an effective workout, a challenging combo of strength and conditioning moves.

We all showed up to work out, and work out hard, but none of us was there for the workout itself. We were there for Kelly. For her family. For her friends. For each other. For ourselves.

Since then, as Kelly has made slow progress, I think of her — still a woman I don’t know personally — every time I feel my commitment to my workouts falter. I remember that if she could, she would. And I know that every step, every lift, every rep is a shot of positive energy. For her. For the people who love her. And ultimately, for me, too.

When it comes to working out, who are you here for?

 , RKC, is an Experience Life senior editor.

Original Article can be found here:

Made In Chicago – Champions!


10K and Half Marathon State Championships Coming to Chicago

Chicago, IL  (March 22) — The Byline Bank Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K, and Chicago Half Marathon & 5K produced by Life Time® Healthy Way of Life, are partnering with the USA Track & Field (USATF) – Illinois Association to host state champioinships. Together with Life Time, the nation’s premier healthy living, healthy aging and healthy entertainment brand, USATF – Illinois will be a driving force in providing a premier race experience for local developing athletes.

Set for Sunday, May 20, the Byline Bank Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K will host this years’ USATF – Illinois 10K Championship. While on Sunday, September 23, the Chicago Half Marathon & 5K will host the USATF – Illinois Half Marathon Championship.

“Life Time has grown the interest and demand for a quality race experience using an athlete first approach and including participants of all abilities” said Gregory Evans, Long Distance Running Chair for USATF – Illinois Association. “USATF Illinois is proud to bring the national governing body to the Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K and Chicago Half Marathon, adding another level of benefits to the participants and other race partners.”

“Partnering with USATF – Illinois is the next step as we continue to build on providing quality, premier race experiences for our athletes.” said Life Time Run Brand Manager, Dan Lakin, says of the USATF – Illinois partnership,  “Life Time is dedicated to improving our local communities, and providing events that are best-in-class. Whether an elite athlete or a beginner,  Life Time and USATF provide a vehicle to foster athletes at every level along their healthy way of life journey. We’re excited to to welcome the State Championships to Chicago at this years’ event and for years to come.”

An estimated 8,000 runners are expected to participate in this year’s Byline Bank Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K and another 13,000 are expected to take on the Chicago Half Marathon & 5K this September.  In addition to age group and masters awards; each race will offer a prize purse to the top 3 men and women:

10K Championship Half Marathon Championship
1st Place $500 $1,000
2nd Place $250 $500
3rd Place $250 $500

To place in a championship race, registered participants must be a current member of USATF at the time of the race. Information on USATF membership and it’s benefits may be found at

About the Byline Bank Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K

The Byline Bank Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K, in its 10th year, benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Participants will run either 13.1 miles or 10K (6.1 miles) starting along famed Grant Park traversing South along Columbus Drive, and run through Museum Campus and along Chicago’s beautiful lakefront before finishing in Maggie Daley Park. In its inaugural year, 1900 people signed up for the race, today it is one of the most in-demand racecs in Chicago selling out at just over 8,000 participants.
More information is available at

About the Chicago Half Marathon & 5K
The Chicago Half Marathon & 5K, in it’s 22nd year, highlights Chicago’s south shore. Stepping off from historic Jackson Park, participants traverse through Hyde Park before navigating along a traffic-free Lake Shore Drive. The Chicago Half Marathon is a flat and fast course offering up stunning views of Chicago’s famed skyline and a triumphant finish at the foot of the “Golden Lady” (Statue of the Republic).
More information at

Both races are part of the Chicagoland Half Marathon Series which includes the Byline Bank Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K (May 20) and the Chicago Half Marathon & 5K (September 23) and awards participants for completing 2 half marathons within the same year. 

About Life Time®, Healthy Way of Life

Life Time champions a healthy and happy life for its members across 131 destinations in 37 major markets in the U.S. and Canada. As the nation’s only Healthy Way of Life brand, Life Time delivers an unmatched athletic resort experience and provides a comprehensive healthy living, healthy aging and healthy entertainment experience that goes well beyond fitness to encompasses the entire spectrum of daily life for individuals, couples and families of all ages. For more information visit 

About USATF – Illinois

USATF – Illinois seeks to promote the sport and its local athletes across the state, and is one of 57 USATF Associations across the country. Visit for more information.

Based in Indianapolis, USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world’s oldest organized sports, the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the No. 1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States. Information on USATF membership and it’s benefits may be found at

Cruisin’ in the USA

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had never experienced such a sense of pure, ecstatic joy up until my 12th year of life when I received what would be a life changing gift: my first bike. As my hands shook, I did my best to delicately remove the red ribbon my mother had attached to the handlebars. I could barely see what I was doing through the tears welling up in my eyes. Having asked for nothing else for three whole Christmases, birthdays and heck, even national holidays (Labor Day sales always had the best selection), this light pink Schwinn Talula cruiser before me was the stuff of dreams.

Complete with a basket and bell, I could not wait to take it out and ride it into the sunset. Or, how it turns out, ride it around the block a couple of times before I had to change for church. Your first bike is a rite of passage. The possibilities and freedom that it allotted you as a young adolescent to explore the neighborhood and meet new friends; the independence it bestowed as you rode it to school. These are still the same sensations and attributes that cycling continues to provide even as adults.

Pedalin’ Prowess

In recent times, there has been a steady boom in the integration of cycling back into our daily lives. The boom is largely responsible for the new onslaught of bike sharing programs, commuting options and the reemergence certain sports, such as triathlon, to keep cycling in the mainstream. It is the flexibility and accessibility of these features, coupled with its environmentally friendly consumption and health benefits to its users that it continues to claim and revolutionize our cities today. In just Chicago alone, there are “200-plus miles of bike lanes and 13,000 bike racks…(With a plan to have) a total of 645 miles of lanes by 2020.” Below we look at some of the newcomers to the bike scene, the benefits to cycling and the importance of sharing the road.

Goin’ Green and Fightin’ Fit

The health benefits to cycling are numerous. The calorie burning from just an hour of riding a bike can be anywhere from 500 – 650 calories. It is great cross training for new swimmers as the intensity and range helps build your lounges and air intake. Riding a bike works on multiple muscle groups from your quadriceps to your calf muscles; helping to keep you on point, in one swift pedal, with leg day. The beauty of biking comes from your environment. We often get lost in our heads when running or lifting weights but biking keeps you present and keeps you energized as it allows you to take on challenges as they come: hills, crowded pathways, the open road. As we mentioned earlier, it helps with cross training from other sports such as swimming and running as it eases up the exertion placed on your arms and feet.

In cities like Miami, where public transportation is more of a hassle than a benefit, new bike lanes in the downtown area and public parks have allowed for a cleaner, more affordable option to get around. According to the National Household Travel Survey, “Americans older than 25 accounted for most of the increase in cycling…” Millennials seem to be the driving force behind the sustainability and fitness efforts behind the recent surge.”We are more aware of the pollution crisis and the affect our negligence will have on future generations. We are living through stronger storms and more volatile weather all due to global warming. If there is anything to be done, it needs to start now.” states Chelsea Walsh of Biscayne Bay. In an effort to combat our ever increasing air pollutants, many jobs have offered stipends or perks to those employees who commute to work. In addition, these new lanes and special parks are being built in once abandoned and derelict areas of the city that will be transformed with beautification projects that include gardens and compost areas.

Learning to Share the Road

While there has been a reemergence in the pastime, there are still dangers to contend with when out on the road. When bike sharing first emerged, there was a major outcry against programs such as Divvy and Citi bikes as many stated that it would flood the already brimming crowds of bustling cities.. Having to be aware of tourist pedestrian traffic while in your vehicle is one thing, but adding speed and inertia has led to countless accidents and hospitalizations. Whether the error lies on the cyclist or the vehicle varies in each situation but for the most part the fault is two-fold. Ride sharing benefits the city as an extension of tourism but riders are novices to the layout and without proper protection. They are more focused on finding where they’re going than to their immediate surroundings. At the same time, there are more experienced bikers who neglect the rules of the road and will swirl past traffic and stop lights to beat traffic.

Many vehicle drivers forget to share the road and will make lane changes or turns without being cognizant of our bikers. I know I’ve been the recipient of foul and imaginative slew of words when cutting off a fellow cyclist. Bike lane improvements have been proposed in many cities to add items such as buffers, plants and cement partitions to further protect both entities on the road. The latest study, published as a research letter Sept. 1 in JAMA, documents “a rise in cycling-related injuries and hospitalizations among adults from 1998 to 2013. Adjusted for age, reported injuries rose 28 percent, and resulting hospitalizations increased 120 percent. There was also an increase, to 56 percent from 40 percent, of accidents that occurred on streets.”

Safety First

Education plays a vital role if we want to make any progress in fully and efficiently integrating cycling into our daily lives. While the idea of buying a car without seat belts is bizarre, slow progress has been made in properly educating newcomers to keeping safe. Yasamin Sabeti, a local Chicago resident brings up a good point: “One of the things that scares me the most is seeing so many cyclists without helmets. It is the only protection you have between outside negligence and your brain. Not sure why this is still an option and not a requirement.” There are many gadgets out there today to keep you protected and safe; ranging from lights to side mirrors to reflective clothing. The industry is growing with the popularity rise, with many local bike stores seeing a surge in both attendance and sales.

The surge of sports such as triathlon and cycling have also helped to educate the populace by bringing the importance of safety to the forefront. Many events are certified by upper governing bodies such as USA Triathlon, who adhere to strict guidelines when competing in one of their events. Kids will see their favorite celebrities in protective gear and will follow suit. Many schools are hoping to implement videos and programs into their curriculum in an effort to bring light to the severity of negligence in the same manner that drunk driving videos have done to first time drivers.

In essence, there is much innovation coming forth from the cycling world and it is interesting to see how cities and their populace continue to integrate and grow with the surge. Whether you’re an active commuter or a novice unwrapping their first bike with shaking hands, there is no denying the many strides that have been made for our favorite pastime.

See below for links to amazing biking programs in a city near you!

Miami, FL

Chicago, IL

New York City, NY

Denver, CO

San Diego, CA


Works Cited
Brody, Jane. “Cycling 1o1 Needn’t Be Collision Course.” 21 Sept. 2015

Musical Motivation

Have you ever noticed that when “your” song comes on when you’re working out, you feel a rush of adrenaline and a newfound sense of endurance?
Where does this come from? Why is music such a motivating factor when it comes to our workout performance?

The study of music and its relationship to working out was not studied in depth until the mid- 1990s due to the technological advances that made it possible for more and more people to listen to music on the run. Now, scientists have been studying the impact that music has on improving athletic performance.

One of the more widely accepted views on why music makes working out easier is that it serves as a mental distraction. The music we listen to serves as a distraction from the fatigue our body is facing and the exhaustion that comes after about 10 minutes of cardio and weightlifting. According to the Guardian Report, the distraction that comes from music can boost athletic performance by 15%.

Not only does the music you listen to distract you during your workout, but it can also help control and pace your run too! The songs you listen to while you run, bike, walk, or lift weights can help stimulate the motor section of your brain in order to help set the pace for your workout! According to the Huffington Post, “clueing into these time signals helps us use our energy more efficiently, since keeping a steady pace is easier on our bodies than fluctuating throughout a sweat session.”

So, next time you hit the tredmill or bike, make sure your playlist is one that is going to keep you motivated and “in the zone” throughout the duration of your workout!


Works cited:
Hughes, Virginia. “Why Does Music Help Us Exercise?” National Geographic.
Staff, Experience Life. “Music=Motivation.” Experience Life.
 “7 Reasons You Should Listen to Music When You Workout.” Huffington Post.



2017 Chicagoland Series Medals

This past weekend, we unveiled the 2017 Chicago Spring Half Marathon and Chicago Half Marathon medals on their respective social media platforms to an uproar response! We are thrilled to see that you are just as excited for these events as we are. But, did you know that these medals are pieces of a whole? Check out the video below as we officially introduce the 2017 Chicagoland Series Challenge medal and see how they all come together to highlight the beauty and splendor of our beautiful city of Chicago! Will you take the challenge?


Official Medal Reveal Video


Chicago Spring Half Marathon


May 21, 2017


Chicago Half Marathon

September 24, 2017


2017 Chicagoland Series Challenge

The 2017 Chicagoland Series Medals



Saying No to the Plateau!

Don’t let the plateau get you down. Keep your head up!

For those of you training for the upcoming Chicago Spring Half Marathon in 2 weeks (or any race in general), there comes a time in your training when you hit that “blah wall.”  You know the one we’re talking about- the point in your training where you no longer find any excitement or challenge in your routine. Or even worse, where it seems that you are not making any progress whether its gains or losses. Ladies and gentleman, we have with us here today: The dreaded plateau.

Now, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. This is a good thing and it is absolutely normal. In fact, you should be proud that you have stuck through your training and put in 100% day in and day out to even get to this plateau. The truth is, there are many reasons why we reach a plateau; it can be anything from boredom to an unbalanced diet. Your body is constantly changing and while training, we put it through a rigorous path of exertion. Let’s look at some reasons why we hit a plateau and the best ways to shake some life back into our routine.

Mind Games

First and foremost- do not get discouraged! Most people will hit a plateau, believe they are not making any progress and give up. Don’t you dare! You’ve made it thus far and you should not give up on the progress you have made. Running is all mental. Sure it takes stamina and endurance but we all know it is a persistent ’84 year old couple bickering’ between you and that annoying voice in your head. Don’t let it get to you. Often times, our discouragement comes from not achieving the ‘X results’ we thought we would see by ‘X time’. Please remember that everyone is different and while Stacy from the gym was running at a 9:30 pace by Week 10, that doesn’t mean you will be too – and that’s perfectly ok. Focus on you. Take encouragement from your own personal victories. How far have you come in the past couple of weeks? Think of where you were when you started your training and where you are now. Reminding yourself of your own small victories will help clear the cloud of discouragement that overwhelms the spirit during a plateau.

Eat, Sleep, Run, Repeat

Our bodies, like machines, are a finely tuned and oiled machine; we get what we put into it.  A big reason behind a plateau is our lack of adjusting our eating and sleeping patterns to match our training patterns. We won’t get into how many calories you burn while running as this varies immensely depending on distance, terrain, weight, etc. What we will focus on is the fact that the calories burned running should be compensated with your daily calorie intake. Do not make the mistake of cutting back on calories while training. Your body will not perform at optimum level if its running on vapors. This will lead to lack of energy, decreased endurance and you called it- the plateau. In addition, make sure that the calories you intake are good, healthy calories. Protein and vegetables will take you a lot further than a night out at the local pizza joint.

Lackluster and stalled performance can also be a sign that you are not getting enough ZZZ’s at night. Let’s be real. It is the sweet embrace of soft sheets and the tender peace of counting sheep that we look forward to after a long day of adulting. Yet, sleep is the first thing that we shove headfirst to the backseat as we go through our non-stop and chaotic daily lives. Sleeping is essential when training. Just as a machine gets routine maintenance, your body needs routine rest. The key word being routine. Depending on your schedule, the optimal 7 hours a night may not be possible. Keeping your sleep amount consistent will allow your body to get the most from your rest.

Cross Training

Hitting a training plateau is the equivalent of hearing your significant other say “we don’t do fun stuff anymore.” It is your body telling you that it is time to spice things up! This is a great time to incorporate cross training as it helps immensely to refresh what may seem like a stagnant routine in addition to helping those who feel like they are getting “stuck” – whether it be physically, emotionally or mentally.

Why cross train?  Well, it can improve your aerobic fitness level, increase power, improve performance, help with injury prevention or even rehabilitation, and certainly help with any boredom factors.  When you incorporate cross training, you focus on other muscles and moves that aren’t usually dominant during running.

Recommended Cross Training Activities

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Stretching
  • Plyometrics
  • Strength Training
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Water aerobics or water jogging

You want to avoid activities that put a lot of strain on your knees or that are overly weight bearing.  As always, if you try something new, be careful and monitor your body’s response!


All the Awesome To-Dos in the New Year

Reprinted with permission from Experience Life

· Dec 29, 2016

Do you set too-big goals and resolutions? What I’ve learned from life coaches on how to get real.

My New Year’s–resolution lists looked the same for years: Lose weight! Save more money! Take a trip! Spend more time with friends and family! Read more books!

They were broad, overarching ideas that seemed like the right things to aim for — the goals we all tend to set our sights on.

It wasn’t until I met with a life coach that I started to understand why these goals remained on my wish list each year, with little progress made toward completion.


First, I had to ask myself: Why were these goals important to me? Were these my goals, or other people’s consensus on the goals we should set for our resolutions? So I took stock of each one.

  • Lose weight: I’d like to feel good in my body and move freely without pain. I’d like to be strong so I can accomplish other fitness feats.
  • Save more money: Because why not? Someday my car is sure to need replacement, or we could use the money for an excursion, and it’s always nice to have a security blanket.
  • Take a trip: I love to travel, and there are so many places I’d like to visit. But the biggest barrier always ends up being: How to afford it?
  • Spend more time with friends and family: Is it really about more time or making that time we have feel like more quality time? I bet we’d all wish for more time for visits, but we all have demanding schedules, so really, it’s about setting plans that allow for deeper connections.
  • Read more books: Always worthwhile, but I do read a lot. Maybe I can skip this one?


Next, my life coach and other experts would say I need to make these goals more specific and doable. What actual steps will I take to accomplish them — each day, each week, and each month? What are my mini milestones to celebrate along the way?

  • Lose weight: Specifically, I’d like to lose 30 pounds in six months. It can be a very doable goal when I will: plan meals and pack healthy food for the week on Sundays; lift weights two to three times a week and walk three to four; set a timer to get up from my desk every hour; drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day; go to bed by 10 p.m. each night. Reevaluate my plan each month based on my progress, and decide on additional resources I may need to acquire, such as a workout buddy, personal trainer, nutritionist, etc.
  • Save more money: I will set an auto-deduction from my checking to my savings account for $50 per month, and will reassess in six months to see if I can increase the amount.
  • Take a trip: The savings will help with this, but instead of setting my sights on Fuji, how about a shorter, smaller, and cheaper trip to San Diego?
  • Spend more quality time with friends and family: Call up my loved ones and set up a fun adventure where we can make some great memories.
  • Read more books. Nix this goal and stay focused on the others.


This tip I found the most helpful for the big one we all talk about: lose weight.

When we think of this goal, one life coach told me, it’s all about deprivation. It’s about what we’ll force our bodies to do and what we’ll restrict instead of what we’ll gain and how our bodies will improve.

Instead of “losing weight,” she told me, say, “I want to get stronger.” By recasting this goal as one that will build on where you’re starting from versus what you’ll strip away, it makes it more desirable for your brain. It’s one of power — “I’m just going to get better in this body!”

Now, I will admit that it was hard for me to embrace: As a woman, I feel like society has long encouraged us to get smaller, slighter, more delicate. More recently, as we have been emboldened to love our curves and muscles, and to stand in a place of power, it’s become easier for me to go for that goal. And a surprising fact I learned from weightlifting, which you can read more about in “Lift to Lose Weight”: Building muscles helps you lose weight. Double win!

This excellent — and FREE! — six-month workout plan for our “Strong, Fast, and Fit” program offers a simple format for success with support.


Set mini goals and celebrations along the way, and for crying out loud, cut yourself some slack!

This bit of advice was the nicest any coach ever told me, the ever-crazed perfectionist. We’re all trying our best, and we should get an A for effort. As we move forward toward reaching our goals, they may evolve, or we may decide they weren’t crucial to our values after all. Once we get there, we may find our vision is different than we imagined, whether good or bad in our eyes.

Know that it’s your vision and your dream, and you can dictate what that looks like at any point, whether you’re setting New Year’s resolutions or revising a 10-year plan.

During my interview with author Danielle LaPorte, she shared this refreshing take on balance: It doesn’t exist. (Hear more from her in the video below.)

Really, I realized that this concept of “balance” was some magical ideal that we all shared, like the typical New Year’s resolutions. There’s been a mutual agreement that “balance” is desirable and amazing, and we think we know what it looks like, but really, it varies for everyone. It can’t be defined because it’s your own interpretation.

So as you consider your New Year’s resolutions, think about your own values that guide your vision.

Happy dreaming!