Fun may come here to die a prolonged and painful death, but that doesn’t mean your exercise regimen has to. Here at the U of C there are several ways to stay fit, most notably the two campus gyms. The Ratner Athletic Center, located on the west side of South Ellis Avenue between East 56th and 57th Streets, is a nine-year old, state-of-the-art facility complete with two floors of weight room, dozens of cardio machines, basketball courts, a Jamba Juice, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The gym itself overlooks Stagg Field and is a great place to feed your inner workout warrior—and it even stays open until midnight during the week. Oh, and it has mirrors. Everywhere.
Our other gym is Henry Crown Field House, a cozier and much older establishment that offers treadmills, squash courts, and a weight room of its own. Henry Crown also has a second floor indoor track that hosts Monday Night Dodgeball (Wallace House brings the balls), the Chicago Basketball League, and intramurals galore. The gym at Henry Crown is a quieter option and appeals to those who dislike having their reflection staring at them from all angles. And although Henry Crown is just a block away (corner of 56th and University) from the much more expensive and modernized Ratner, our ol’ field house has a vintage charm that money just can’t buy.
In addition to the gyms, the athletic department runs a FitChicago program that features a wide assortment of fitness classes, including beginning and intermediate yoga, Pilates, muscle toning, cardio kickboxing, water aerobics, tango, step aerobics, and more. FitChicago classes require a punch card to attend, which can be purchased at the front desk in Ratner for $5 for one class, $23 for five, and $40 for 10.
There are also other University activities designed to stave off weight gain in those colder months, when trudging all the way to the gym can be a much more daunting task. Kuviasungnerk Kangenko, commonly known as Kuvia, is a week-long event early in winter quarter drawing students from the four corners of campus to assemble and beckon in the morning sun with yoga. Afterward, there are mini-classes on things like break dancing and karate with free bagels and Capri Sun available following the activities. Plus a free T-shirt if you make it through the week. Totally worth it.
My own favorite way to keep off the pounds is running the trail along Lake Michigan—weather permitting, of course. If you’re looking for an easy 2-3 mile jog, head east on 55th street out to Promontory Point Park on the lakefront (if you’re one of us, you’ll call it “The Point”; nobody actually knows what “Promontory Point Park” is). Or if you’d like to stretch your run a few miles longer, head north along the trail and enjoy the stunning views of the Windy City (again, weather permitting). Either way, the lake is flexible to your needs and on the best days offers one of the most truly refreshing workouts in the entire city.
In all, the University provides enough options to cover those who are extra serious about their fitness, those who are not so serious, and those who fit all the levels of seriousness in between. But it’s up to you to seek them out and banish the first-year 15.