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Whether you’re training for a spring race or you want to counteract the effects of winter weight gain, Jenny Maloney, Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer from Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago, has 10 eating tips to help you get leaner, move faster, and feel better.
1. Maintain Portion Control
Use your hand as a guide to measure out your food to ensure you’re eating the right amounts of the necessary daily nutrients your body requires:
Your palm size determines the amount of protein you require.
Your fist size determines the amount of veggies you should place on your plate.
Your cupped hand determines the size of your carbohydrate portion.
Your thumb size determines the amount of fat you should consume.
2. Planning Makes Perfect
Set aside some time each day (or each week) to plan and balance out your meals ahead of time. This helps you avoid last-minute scrambles for meals where you often end up with less-than-healthy options on your plate.
The supermarket shelves are stocked with overly processed, nutrient-poor foods that can easily derail a healthy lifestyle. Purchase real, whole, minimally processed foods with 5 or fewer ingredients whenever possible.
4. Spice It Up
Make an effort to eat a variety of foods each day. Just as it’s important to switch up your workouts to prevent boredom and to keep your body from entering a fitness plateau, changing up your meals will ensure your body is getting the various nutrients it needs to help you reach your fitness goals.
5. Avoid Sugar Bombs
Sugar is found in large quantities in the most unlikely places, from bread to peanut butter to yogurt and pasta sauce. Read labels before placing items in your grocery cart and look for 5 grams or fewer of sugar per serving.
6. Know Your Numbers
Don’t skip your annual physical and ask your doctor to order bloodwork to check for vitamin or mineral deficiencies. You might not be reaching your fitness goals if your body isn’t getting what it needs from the food you’re eating.
7. Stay Fueled and Hydrated
Drink water before, during, and after your workout to stay hydrated. Eat before and after exercising as an energy-boost, to increase the performance and quality of your workout, to preserve muscle mass, and to help with recovery.
Choose a healthy afternoon snack to avoid dips in your energy level. An afternoon snack can also prevent you from overeating at night.
9. Eat for Energy
Go for carbohydrates, fat, and protein at each meal and snack. Carbs will give you immediate energy, while protein and fat will give you sustained energy.
10. Be Consistent
This is the key to both reaching and maintaining your goal in a healthy way. Find what nutrition and exercise plan works for you and stick with it.
Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer Jenny Maloney from Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago shares why what you eat after your workout is just as important as what you eat before exercising.
Following a vigorous workout, your muscles and tissues need to repair so your body can avoid injury and prepare for your next workout.
What and when you eat can help make this an efficient and effective process. Try to eat within 30-60 minutes after exercise. If your workout includes resistance training, go for food high in protein and carbohydrates.
If you don’t have time to eat a real food snack or meal, protein powders and energy bars are a convenient option. The market is loaded with options, though, so read labels and find one that works for you.
Choose a powder or bar that has the most natural ingredients and stay away from the more processed and sugary ones. On the nutrition label, look for 5 grams or fewer of sugar, 5-20 grams of protein (more protein for muscle-building), 15-30 grams of carbohydrates, and 5-10 grams of fat.
Whey protein is quickly absorbed and tastes great in a smoothie.
Try this Recovery Smoothie recipe with whey protein powder:
1 cup milk or milk substitute
2 small, pitted dates
½ cup ice cubes
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 -1 scoop of whey protein powder
Blend and enjoy!
Dena Levy, a 14-year member of Midtown Athletic Club in Rochester, NY, turns 50 years young on Sunday, March 22.
In January of this year, Dena decided to commemorate her milestone birthday by recommitting herself to a once vigorous fitness routine that had in recent years been thwarted by injury and illness.
Dena decided to complete 50 workouts in the days and weeks leading up to her 50th birthday.
There was just one challenge, which she didn’t realize until after setting the goal. She had just 53 days to fit in the 50 workouts before March 22.
With a determined spirit and an unwavering desire to make 50 her best year yet, Dena is on track to reach her goal by Sunday.
We sat down with Dena to learn more about her 50 For 50 project.
Q: What inspired you to set this goal?
A: I had surgery on my Achilles about two years ago and since then, I’ve had a difficult time returning to a consistent workout routine. Each time I got started, something would happen (chronic pain in my foot, pneumonia, etc.). I used to work out regularly, so I was very frustrated. At the end of January, I decided that before I turned 50 I would get back to a regular routine, and so I came up with “50 for 50.” The only problem was that I discovered I had just 53 days to get in the 50 workouts. But I think having so few “rest” days available actually made the challenge more intense, which served as great motivation.
Q: Do you have a fitness goal in mind for your 50 workouts?
A: My goal is to get back to a regular routine after the challenge is over, where I work out 4-to-5 times a week. My next goal is to run a 5K in the spring. I haven’t done one since I had my daughter almost 9 years ago.
Q: What’s a regular workout at Midtown like for you?
A: I work out with Dina (personal trainer Dina Smock) once a week, and then generally I use the treadmills. Sometimes, I will mix it up by using a bike or an elliptical.
Q: How many workouts have you completed so far?
A: As of today, 47.
Q: How have you kept yourself accountable?
A: The best decision I made was to tell people about this challenge. Doing so has kept me accountable. I also put together a small “50 for 50″ Facebook group so I can report to my friends and family where I am and what I have done. It’s a pretty shameless attempt to get encouragement, but it definitely helps. And my daughter made count-down chain for me and every evening she takes off one of the loops from the chain. This has actually helped a lot because we can see how it keeps getting shorter and shorter!
Happy birthday, Dena! We are incredibly proud of your resolve and commitment to improving your health, and we have no doubt that 50 will be your healthiest year yet.
Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer Jenny Maloney from Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago is talking real food, healthy fats, food allergies, and seven other top nutrition trends for 2015.
We’re six weeks into the new year, and setting and meeting health-related goals is still tops in the minds of many. Whatever your health goal might be this year, staying on-trend will get you on the right track to weight loss, a healthier immune system, or a more fit you by the time the year comes to a close.
1. Eat Real Food
This year, fad diets are out, and real foods are in. Consume as many real, minimally processed foods as possible. Grab an apple and some almonds instead of a granola bar and give your body some real nutrients. Also, Big Food is taking notice of increased consumer spending on healthier, organic foods and is making changes to offer more healthful options.
Farmers markets have been around for years and we know that local food is a great, healthier choice. Studies show that grass-fed meat and organic produce have more nutrients than their conventionally grown counterparts. More restaurants are featuring local foods and ingredients and supporting area farmers. In 2015, more people than ever before will shop at farmers markets, food co-ops, and purchase meat and produce from a CSA.
3. Have Some Fat
Healthy fats, including those found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado, have long been known to contribute to overall wellness. But new research suggests that butter and steak in moderation are just fine too. Studies have found that sugar, and not saturated fat, is the main contributor to heart disease, so use real butter and whole milk in moderation when cooking.
Over the past 10 years, the number of people suffering from food allergies has skyrocketed. Help is now more readily available for those who have sensitivities or allergies, and with better testing comes relief once the culprits are identified and eliminated from the diet. In addition, restaurants and grocery stores are more allergy- friendly than ever before.
5. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods, such as kefir, kombucha, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchiare, are natural probiotics, or good bacteria that helps balance the gut. These healthy bacteria are good for digestion, help absorb nutrients, and are hot in 2015.
6. Coconut and Date Sugar
We already know that we are consuming too much sugar, so many are looking for sugar alternatives or healthier, less processed versions like coconut and date sugar. Keep in mind, though, that while you may get slightly more nutrients from coconut and date sugar, your body will still break them down as sugar, and sugar consumption should be limited. Aim for a maximum of 5-9 teaspoons a day no matter what kind of sugar you prefer.
Quinoa has long been identified as a supergrain, and now others like millet, amaranth, kamut, farro, spelt, and chia (actually a seed), are growing in popularity. Grains are a good source of fiber and B vitamins, and complement a meal nicely.
8. Leafy Greens
Kale is still in, but the other leafy greens are rising. Try Swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens for variety. These greens are packed with nutrients like antioxidants, calcium, and Vitamins A, E, and C.
9. Nutrition Labels and Facts
Nutrition labels are becoming more user-friendly and easier to understand. More restaurants are providing nutrition information for their food, and consumers are better informed and can use the information to make healthier decisions about what they eat.
Awareness of genetically modified foods (GMOs) is growing. More products are being labeled “GMO-Free” because savvy consumers are seeking out these products and buying organic foods to ensure that there are no GMOs.
National Fitness Director Scott Hopson outlines the Top 4 Fitness Trends for 2015 to provide you with some ideas to jumpstart your routine if your fitness resolutions have begun to lag.
1. Fusion Classes and Small Group Training
“Gone are the days where people are searching for a solo and singular fitness experience,” says Scott. What’s hot are hybrids: Spinyasa (spin and Yoga Vinyasa), small group training, multi-station OMNIA workouts, and water-dry land classes.
Why? “Because they’re fun!”, says Scott. Fusion classes and small group training allow you to try something new and exciting in a less intimidating, social environment, which increases your comfort level by providing a social space in which to work out.
And once you’re in, you want to come back because of the connections you’ve made with others in your class or small group.
“We’re finding that members also feel badly when they miss their group workouts, because they feel they’ve let down their friends in class who count on them to be there for moral support. Once you find your community, you don’t miss workouts often because of the friendships formed over fitness,” says Scott.
Wearable technology that allows you to not only track your heart rate, but also your daily stress level and training zone provide you with the data you need for an effective workout.
The younger generation is suffering from adult diseases (Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Cholesterol) and older adults are living longer with disease. These two facts make biofeedback data essential to maintaining or improving health. Our coaches are trained to work with members on effective biofeedback such as Polar, and MYZONE technology is currently available in two clubs, with more to come. The on-screen data provided by these tools allows you to see the exact effectiveness of your workouts with medical-grade accuracy.
“Knowledge is power,” says Scott. “The data we provide via these tools makes you accountable for your health, which is key to making the lifestyle changes needed to improve overall fitness.”
Yoga and Pilates classes will be hotter than ever this year. According to Scott, “People are more stressed than ever before, and they’re turning to Mind.Body classes for balance, connection, and centering.”
While certain extreme workouts at smaller studios and gyms may serve to break you down by encouraging overtraining and under-recovery, Mind.Body classes elevate your spirit through helping participants learn to slow down, breath more completely, and focus on total wellness. This is something people will focus on in 2015 more than ever before.
Parents are realizing that the earlier they introduce their kids to a fitness routine, the easier it will be for them to continue leading active lives as adults.
“To adapt to the growing interest in youth fitness, Midtown has created a model based on child development,” says Scott. “Our Youth Fitness coaches and instructors focus on the entire child, including cognitive, emotional, and gross motor skills, to ensure that our programming perfectly fits kids in every age group.”
We’re also working hard to transform each club’s Kidtown into an area of active, focused play so that when kids are visiting, they’re engaged in physical activity to grow both their bodies and their minds. Several clubs have kids fitness equipment from Exergame Fitness and Pavigym installed, with more clubs following suit in the future.
We’re one month into 2015. If your commitment to your fitness resolutions isn’t as robust as it was 30 days ago, mix up your routine with a fusion, small group training, or Mind.Body class. Your body will thank you for it.
Look no further than Midtown Athletic Club in Willowbrook, IL member Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem.
Late last year, Heidi joined an online weight-loss challenge program that required her to log a 30-minute workout every day, for one month. She decided to use Twitter to hold herself accountable, figuring that if she announced her workout to her followers, then she had to get it done.
We sat down with Heidi to ask her some questions about her workout challenge:
What was your challenge goal?
I wanted to get fit, but I don’t believe in weighing myself on a regular basis. Weight loss should be slow and steady. I step on the scale once per month and instead, I focus on how I feel, my energy level, and how my clothes fit.
What were the biggest challenges of your 30-day workout commitment?
With 2 young boys, ages 2 and 4, and a full-time career, I’m exhausted by the end of the day. It was hard to get the energy to get to the gym, but I did it!
What was the key to your success?
Being organized! I had to have everything prepared for myself and the boys the night before. I set out clothes, prepped food, had my music playlist ready and my iPod charged. All it takes is one little excuse to find a reason why it won’t work today and I wanted to avoid that all together.
How did you keep yourself motivated to do a workout every day for 30 days straight?
I kept telling myself, “It’s just 30 minutes. I quickly discovered that no matter how busy I was, with the proper planning, I could squeeze in a quick, 30-minute workout each day.
And I did!
Midtown offers a working mom many conveniences, the biggest one being Kidtown. I love having the ability to drop the kids off in a place where they are safe, happy, and well-taken care of while I work out, go to the spa, sauna, and steam room, or relax in the tennis lounge or café. The ability to grab a nutritious snack or meal for the kids in the M Café when I’m really short on time is great too.
I also love the people at Midtown. Many of the associates and members took notice of how hard I was working during my challenge, and I really appreciated that. I also love to use engage on Midtown’s social media channels because I received a lot of support to keep it up there as well.
Heidi summed up her 30-day workout challenge with this: “The goal to be healthy is great, and for me, it was about setting the goal and reaching it!”
We’re so proud of you, Heidi.
Tweet Heidi at @heidi_mcsista.
We all have holiday traditions, from Aunt Sue’s green bean casserole to fireside carols to the annual donning of the matching sweaters.
However, a lot of our traditions around the holidays focus on heavy, fat-laden foods. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Traditions are important, and the holidays are a good time to indulge as long as we do not indulge to excess.
Still, it is a good time to assess whether your family has any healthy holiday traditions, namely involving physical activity. If not, then why not consider starting one?
Growing up, we watched my father every Thanksgiving morning amble through a Turkey Trot 5k. A former college basketball star measuring 6’8″ in height, he was by no means a runner and it was often humorous to watch him lurching down the final stretch. Nevertheless, he loved how running that race (which was, in fact, the only race he ever ran each year) made him feel on Thanksgiving Day.
As soon as we were old enough, us kids joined him, engaging in a friendly competiton with eachother for place and time. There was something special about knowing no matter the weather — and we had our share of unseasonably warm days as well as days with a foot of snow — we knew where we would be Thanksgiving morning. After an endorphin high of running a race like a Turkey Trot in a huge crowd of like-minded runners, the rest of the day was gravy (pun intended).
There are, in fact, many different ideas for holiday traditions involving fitness, with new opportunities forming each year. It’s not important what you do as long as you do your best to mix the holiday, family and friends (or even pets) with fitness. Here are some ideas for healthy traditions you may not yet have tried:
1. Run a Holiday Race
Did you know that the first “Turkey Trot” was started in Buffalo during Thanksgiving of 1896? Back then it had only six runners, but today that same Buffalo race regularly has over 10,000 participants. Now there are Turkey Trots and Jingle Runs all over the country, of differing lengths and terrains. The feeling of having accomplished something will make the food taste that much better.
2. Backyard Touch Football
This is a fun, special tradition that many families have already incorporated into their holidays for generations. Instead of sitting on the couch in a food-induced coma, head out for your own friendly-family or neighborhood competition.
Children especially will cherish watching adults take part in a fun family game with them.
3. Take a Holiday Walk
There’s no sweeter image to me on holidays than when I see entire generations of a family out walking down the road in a big pack. The sight of an elderly grandmother pushing a stroller, uncles and aunts engaging in jesting banter, and mixed-age children running ahead just seems to be one of the best ways to unite as a family. Even if it is only you and your dog celebrating this year, take a special walk -perhaps on a nature trail- and enjoy the time to reflect on the holiday and giving thanks.
4. Engage in a Seasonal Activity
The holidays are a great time to let your inner child run free. Whether there are young ones with you or not, there’s no reason you can’t go tobogganing, ice skating, or build a large snowman. If you live in a warmer climate, look for indoor ice rinks that offer open skating for the public. All of these activities will have you sweating off enough calories for that pumpkin pie you ate.
Holiday traditions don’t have to be focused only on sugar cookies and stuffing. Embrace a tradition involving physical activity and your holiday will combat stress, lift your mood, and make the time richer and brighter. More importantly, you may not end the holiday season five pounds heavier and feeling like a sloth. It is never too late to start a new tradition!
Does your family have a healthy holiday tradition or story?
When Derek Hendrickson met Sarah White at a friend’s Memorial Day barbeque in 2010, they quickly learned that among other common interests, they shared a passion for working out at Midtown.
Soon after the barbeque, the pair began noticing eachother in group fitness classes, on the weight room floor, and at Midtown events. Derek and Sarah began dating in March of 2011.
They often had dates at Midtown.
Derek says, “Sarah and I each picked classes that the other was already taking. Sarah joined Tony’s Saturday morning spinning class with me and I would follow her upstairs to take Christine’s Zumba class.”
It was during these workout dates at the club that Derek and Sarah got to know eachother, and they fell in love. They were engaged on December 31, 2012 and married on August 16, 2014.
“We knew that a great part of our story happened at the club and when it came time to pick a venue for our wedding pictures, we both selected Midtown as our first choice!” says Derek.
Choosing their photographer was an easy decision as well. Ben Ferro, Membership Director and a longtime friend of the pair, is a seasoned professional photographer and owner of Ben Ferro Photography. Ben (who was also the photographer for Sarah’s brother’s 2007 wedding) jumped at the chance to take Derek and Sarah’s unique wedding photos in the club.
The couple provided Ben with some general ideas on where in the club they wanted their wedding photos taken, and Ben expertly set up the shots both inside and outside of Midtown. Derek and Sarah’s bridal party included three Midtown members.
“Spending time at Midtown helped us get to know each other better and grow closer. Midtown was such an integral part of our story that it seemed only natural to have it be a special part of our wedding day,” says Derek.
Now that the pair is married, Derek and Sarah continue to work out at Midtown five days a week, both together and apart. Both love MXT and Group Power. Sarah enjoys No Limits, while Derek’s recently begun taking Tabata classes.
“We’re always on the go and see Midtown as a place that helps us stay fit and balanced through the exercise classes, equipment, and healthy food options,” says Derek.
Congratulations, Derek and Sarah. We wish you a lifetime of good health and happiness.
Their desire to improve their health and wellness, to increase their fitness levels so they can live life to the fullest, and to work hard doing so are what inspire us.
Mary Archibald’s story is no exception.
At 55 years old, Mary just summitted her 10th 14,000-foot peak in Colorado all by herself.
In her email to Midtown Athletic Club at Windy Hill General Manager Karen Foley, Mary writes, “Midtown is a very big part of my life.”
She credits the club with keeping her in excellent shape and with preparing her to battle snow, wind, and clouds for almost 7 hours to climb to the top of Mt. Bross.
“I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t have Midtown and the awesome variety of ways to work out (tennnis, spin classes, treadmills, yoga) to keep my interest,” says Mary. She loves that exercising with others serves as a motivation to complete tough workouts.
Mary also enjoys the social aspect of the club and the many great people she’s met. She’s also a big fan of the wine-tastings.
We are too, Mary. We are too.
A big congratulations to Mary on her remarkable achievement as she demonstrates the benefits of a fit and active lifestyle.
We’re so proud of her.
Ahhhh, summer. The extended daylight hours beckon runners onto the open roads, but soaring heat and humidity can take their toll on your running mojo.
Here are 6 tips to beat the heat while running this summer.
1. Run Prepared
Summer running might mean you’ll require fewer articles of clothing, but don’t skimp on gearing up. Apply non-drip sunscreen to protect your skin before you head out. Grab a pair of sport sunglasses with nose grips to help with sun glare and to give you a better view of oncoming motorists.
When going on long trail runs on runs in less populated areas, always make sure to tell someone your route and when to expect you back, or run with a cell phone. Stash some cash in case you become overheated and need to stop for a drink or to use for cab fare home.
2. Run Early or Run Late
Experienced runners like to say that the best time to run is when your shadow is longer than you are. In other words, avoid running between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s intensity is at its greatest. If you suffer from respiratory problems, remember that air quality is usually better in the morning than it is later in the day. Plus, early morning runs mean fewer cars and less traffic noise.
If you must run when the sun is up, pick a shady course. Think tree-lined streets over winding country roads. And if you’re running at night, remember your reflective vest.
If you’re running in the heat for more than a couple miles, you will need hydration mid-run. Invest in a hydration pack (found at any running shop), or drive your route in advance and strategically hide partially frozen water bottles along the way (don’t forget to drive back to collect them when you’re done!).
You could also plan a one or two mile route around a focal point, such as your home or Midtown. Run laps of this same route, stopping for a drink each time you pass. Having extra water to pour on your head and neck is a huge psychological bonus, so don’t be afraid to run through a sprinkler when passing!
One of the worst things you can do to your body is dehydrate it. When you overheat, your recovery time will be much longer as your body will need time to heal.
4. Dress for Success
Your old cotton tshirt isn’t the best choice for running in the heat. Technical fibers will move moisture away from your skin, producing a cooling effect. Many of the newer fabrics also have the bonus of built-in UV protection. Don’t underestimate the importance of moisture-wicking socks, either. Keeping your feet cool and dry will prevent blisters.
On long runs in the heat, you need to remember your important friends: sodium and potassium. These and other electrolytes keep your digestive, nervous, cardiac, and muscular systems functioning properly. The more you sweat, the more electrolytes you’ll lose. If you’re running long, consider refueling with sports drinks such as Gatorade or Accelerade during the run, and post-run as well. Recent research, however, suggests that sports drinks, which are often high in sugar, might not be the best post-workout drink, so you might opt for milk, coconut water, or a piece of fruit to replenish electrolytes.
6. Know the Warning Signs
Don’t try to be a superhero. There is a clear line between proving mental toughness and putting your health in jeopardy, and unfortunately many runners allow themselves to cross it. You are not weak for rescheduling a run on a hot day or for stopping early; rather, you are smart.
Don’t expect your pace to be the same as you manage on brisk, mild days. Watch for symptoms of heat disease: intense heat build up, headache, nausea, clammy skim, muscle cramps, and feeling faint. If any of these symptoms strike, stop immediately and head for a drink in the shade.
Enjoy the summer weather and the myriad psychological and physical benefits of running outdoors. Stay safe, smart, and cool and you’ll reap the benefits of running all year long.
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