January 2016 in Review

Holy moly, how are we over a month into the year? So, here’s how I’m doing on all that stuff I said I wanted to focus on:


Health, physical: Get stronger and do more yoga. And see what my knee really can handle these days. Get rid of this bump on my scalp (pretty sure it’s a harmless sebaceous cyst).

I did some yoga, but not enough, and I ran a couple times, but … not that much. I went to Crossfit Academy and need to finish my post about it (with a giveaway for you!) I have not made an appointment for that bump. 

Health, mental: Get back into paper journaling, and possibly see a therapist to talk out some stuff.


Living authentically: I would like to more pro-actively support the values that are important to me – women’s rights, reproductive rights, and sex positivity. And volunteer beyond just the A&BC. And continue to love freely in the ways that are natural for me.

Love: Make time for the ones I love and be a good partner. But always be a good partner to myself and make self care a priority.

These two are the type of stuff I’ll likely talk more about on IRunWithFastWomen.com


Friends: Do the work to try to cultivate and grow important friendships. Including out-of-state friends.

I went to Houston for my college roommate’s wedding. I’m trying to plan a trip soon to visit other college besties. 

Money: In 2015, we reduced our debt by a measly 3%.  I’d like to reduce it by at least 6% this year, or more if we take a more drastic measure (we’re looking at debt management or a personal loan).

Still looking into those drastic measures. 


Travel: Leave the Chicago area for more than 48 hours at least 3 times.

When I travelled to Houston, I was not in Chicago for 48 hours, so we’re counting this on a technicality. 

Culture: Experience at least one cultural thing per month, and check out at least four new-to-me things over the course of the year. Read 20 books, and attend book club (any of the many that I try to be involved with) at least 6 times.

I checked out The Clipper Cabaret and went to a Vaudezilla show, those count in my world. I read half a book (A Hundred* Years  of Solitude … I just couldn’t get into it). 

*Originally wrote thousand … felt that way. I’m sure it’s a great book, but maybe something got lost in translation. 


Dance: Find my space in dance. While I really enjoy burlesque (if that wasn’t obvious), I’m not sure if it’s the best fit for me. […]

I’m taking bellydance class, and from the looks of it, our performance will not involve removing clothing! What! 

Professional: Get paid what I feel I’m worth, and “do math” for a living. Get certified in Google Analytics (it’s free). Do more pro-bono work.

My job is getting more logical and analytics focused which is cool. I started another pro-bono project with the A&BC

Getting outside my comfort zone: Do something once a month that makes me at least a little nervous.

I didn’t think this would make me as nervous as it has, but next Friday, I’m performing my first act that I helped create from conceptualization through costuming and choreography. I’m feeling more nervous about this than any of my recent performances. 


Three Things Thursday

Hello 2016, you’ve been a busy year. Without even trying, I’m suddenly a very busy burlesquer! I taught a workshop this past Sunday, I’m performing in 3 numbers in a show on February 12th – including a duet with Nina that we choreographed! – and I’m taking weekly bellydance classes through which I’ll be performing on March 4th. Bellydance is deceptively hard, by the way. It might not look that different, but it’s a very different way of moving your body – the postures are different for starters, and it’s all built up from there.


The group from  Sunday’s workshop


Nina and I doing our best LoveCats impression


A month ago, I wrote this post. I tried to be vague, and apparently was too vague! And some of you lovelies reached out because you were worried about me. But, I was talking about work in that post. And I’m very thankful to say that things have improved over the past month! I’m lucky enough to have a boss who cares about putting me on projects that actually line up with my interests! So while things are still crazy busy at the office, I’m able to spend more of my time doing the nerdy, left-brained, analytical stuff that I enjoy. And I have a lot more thoughts sort of related to this, on the idea of taking up space, but …


I’m going to start separating my blogging. Mag Mile Runner is going to stay my topical, fitness-focused outlet with the occasional giveaway and sponsored post. I’ve always felt a little weird putting personal, deep-thoughts posts on here alongside sponsored, topical stuff, so those posts always ended up heavily edited or I would just decide not to post. Well, I’m going to put all of that introspective stuff over on IRunWithFastWomen.com, so stay tuned over there for my thoughts on “taking up space.”

Review: On the Go Bootcamp

OTG Bootcamp is a studio I might not have checked out if it weren’t for ClassPass, but I’m so glad I did! It’s easily one of my favorite studios in Chicago.


In a nutshell: Mostly Kettlebells, TRX Thursdays, and some bodyweight exercises here and there. But get ready to swing some kettlebells! They will gladly show you proper form.


Level: Beginners are very welcome! The instructors always take the time to walk you through proper form, and the small class size makes it easy for them to provide corrections during class. However, you pick your own weights, so you can continue to challenge yourself.

Instructors: I have only taken classes with Ryan or Courtney. They are both very friendly and approachable and provide lots individual attention during class, but not in an intimidating way. And maybe they’ll laugh as you post a video of them to Snapchat.


Workout space: They have a large open floor that is soft, so workouts are done in socks or bare feet – leave your shoes in your cubbie. Class size is small, limited to 12, but typically I’m in classes that are 4-8 people. Plenty of room for everyone and plenty of weights available to go around. There are no mirrors, but the instructors are always great about correcting form. Chalk is available for your hands.

The rest of the space: There are showers/restrooms/changings rooms that they share with the fitness studios on the same floor. Cubbies for your belongings.

Overall: I really enjoy my workouts at OTG! Even though they are “short” (warm up, 30 minutes of intense workout, stretching – there is a reason they call themselves “On the Go”), I always leave feeling like I got in a great workout. And super buff. I also really like the instructors, they are just so friendly and approachable!


Workouts: Kettlebells and TRX – all strength
Showers: yes
Lockers and/or cubbies: cubbies
Towels: yes for workout, provide your own for showers
Water: water cooler
Food: they might offer some snacks/protein goodies for sale

Have you been to OTG? Or taken a kettlebells class? 

Sunday with the Pilsen Yoga Tribe

One of my favorite rituals is starting my week with Mariel and the Pilsen Yoga Tribe on Sunday mornings.


Even though I have access to tons of great yoga studios through ClassPass, I always make an effort to join the Sunday morning practice at the beautiful and spacious Thalia Hall.


Mariel is an amazing yoga teacher. She is so incredibly friendly and welcoming, and has created this wonderful community for us to gather every week, stretch and strengthen our bodies … and minds.


I’ve done a lot of yoga, and while I really love how it makes me feel physically, Mariel always leads us through some kind of meditation during the practice. It’s always beautiful and thoughtful and honest.


Today’s practice not only left my hips feeling open (always a plus given  my PT issues) but Mariel kept bringing us back to the idea of speaking our truth. Why do we hold ourselves back? What are we scared of? This is something I’ve been wrangling with for the past few years. As I’ve gotten to know myself more, and who I am and what I need, and gotten far outside the comfort zone of what is expected and “normal,” how do I get comfortable enough to share it? How do I find the strength to speak my truth?

If you love yoga, I highly recommend you check out the Pilsen Yoga Tribe. They meet every Sunday at 10:30am at Thalia Hall, and best of all, it’s free!

Cupid’s Undie Run [Discount Code]

f you can believe it, my next “race” is … Cupid’s Undie Run.


If you can imagine, this isn’t so much a race as it is a 1-mile fun run (in your skivvies, although more layers are allowed) preceded and followed by a party at your favorite college bar and mine, John Barleycorn in Wrigleyville. And the great part is, the actual run is at 2pm. The party is from 12-4pm.

All Cupid’s Undie Runs support the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Last year Cupid’s raised over $3.5 Million to #EndNF.

Wanna join me? Register with code CHICUR$ and save 10% … and feel free to join the Chicago Running Bloggers team! 

The event benefits the Children’s Tumor Foundation, so if you can’t join us but still want to support a good cause, you can make a donation on my charity page.


FitBit Review and Giveaway


For the past 5 days, along with my fellow ClassPass Ambassadors, I’ve been tracking my steps, fitness and sleep via a FitBit Charge. As someone who loves data, it’s been fun to try it out!


FitBit is probably most commonly known for tracking steps … but it tracks so much more. Also, I had no clue how many steps I take in an average day. And when I reach my 10K goal, the watch vibrates and more than once, I’ve stopped and cheered for myself.

I had no idea that I covered 4-5 miles during the average weekday just getting to/from the office and workouts and walking from meeting to meeting. None of these days includes a run, because I haven’t gone for a run since … January 2nd. Oops.

I’m really loving the sleep data. Not just how many hours I get each night, but how often I’m “restless.” And my FitBit has been shaming me into taking the stairs when I might have taken the elevator. Sometimes.


In addition to the steps and distance automatically tracked, you can add additional exercise as well and it adds those calories (although I might be double counting since it still tracks my steps during those exercises). You can also add your friends and track their progress as well … and challenge them!

And best of all … I’m giving away a FitBit Flex to one of you!!


All the steps, activity and sleep tracking of the Charge, minus the Caller ID. Plus this is a fun turquoise color. Or teal. Whatever. It’s fun. Enter via a Rafflecopter giveaway.

No purchase necessary to enter or win. To enter, click the link to Rafflecopter above and follow the steps between 1/18/16  and 1/25/16. Must be at least 18 years old, US only. Prize may not be redeemed for cash.

Review: CrossTown Fitness

My ClassPass membership allows me to check out tons of local fitness studios, over and over again. This post is hopefully the first in a series of reviews of these studios.

First up is CrossTown Fitness, which I have talked about before on this blog, for good reason – it is a great studio! They have locations in the West Loop at Lakeview, however, I have only been to the West Loop location.


In a nutshell: HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts, all day, every day. Every class is different (unless you attend back-to-back classes). But you’ll be working out on the treadmill, rowing machine, using kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, pull-up bars, equalizers, TRX, ropes, and your own bodyweight to get in a great workout.

Level: Their workouts are scalable. You pick your own weights and work at your own pace. I’ve had to pop outside for fresh air more than once during a workout, or walk during a run interval, and no one shamed me. But if you’re up for a challenge, you can definitely be challenged! They also offer personal training sessions, and an open gym for members when class isn’t in session.

Instructors: The trainers are all friendly and approachable, with lots of energy, and always willing to help improve your form. However, I will admit that I get nervous about classes led by Tres, he’s either a Navy SEAL or built like one. I love classes with Betina and Kailee.

Workout space: It is spacious and somehow even in a class with 30+ people, it never feels crowded. All of the equipment has a spot, and participants typically help with clean up after class ends (which goes quickly with 30 people). The equipment is all in great shape.

The rest of the space: There is a waiting area up front, the reception desk doubles as their Cafe, there are cubbies and coat hooks and lots of spots to sit down if you’re waiting for class to start. In back are clean, spacious single-person bathrooms, some with showers, that are stocked with various essentials. There is also a daycare room, obviously I have no experience using it. In addition to selling smoothies and some food, they also sell CTF branded apparel.

Overall: If you are looking for a challenging workout, no matter your level, that is different every day, with friendly energetic instructors, check out CrossTown Fitness! You can sign up via ClassPass if you’re a member, or check their schedule at crosstownfitness.com for their free “community” classes or their great intro deals.

Workouts: HIIT and personal training
Showers: yes
Lockers and/or cubbies: cubbies
Towels: yes for workout, not sure for showers
Water: drinking fountain
Food: available for purchase

Have you been to CTF? Who is your favorite trainer? 

Any particular studios you’d like me to review?