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In junior high, I ran a thirteen minute mile. Not because I walked it and not because I twisted my ankle at lap three--although both of those things happened, but because being told to run in a circle so some national whatever could keep tabs on my fitness level pissed me off. At least that’s what I told my gym teacher. Accustomed to my insubordination, he responded with his usual expression of befuddled anger, eyebrows lifting as if to flee from his bulbous nose.

What I didn’t tell him was that running outside intimidated me.

Even after I began taking endless angsty teenage walks and pedaling to nowhere on my parent’s old exercise bike, even after I moved on to slow jogs on the treadmill I dragged to college with me, and years later spinning classes at Gold’s Gym in LA and finally a yoga practice facilitated by Chicago studios like Bloom, I was still afraid to run outside where people could see. As a spinning instructor, I sweat and screech daily in front of hordes of gym-goers, so self-consciousness couldn’t have been entirely to blame. Yet I kept grinding away on the treadmill despite longer runs and faster miles.

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A girl never forgets her first gym.

Maybe my reluctance to run outdoors owes something to the more general anxiety I harbor: I’m afraid of getting lost. I’m afraid to be alone. I’m definitely afraid of squirrels. The Immense Outside brims with walkers and mockers and kamikaze drivers, with wind and sun, and sometimes even waves strong enough to knock a runner over. I was afraid of all of those things, and yet, once I finally made the decision to run outside, those are the things I embrace. They make each run different. They make me feel like I’m on an adventure. And running despite my fears makes me feel liberated, returned to myself, a new version of something very familiar. I never made a clearcut choice to become a runner; rather, years of incremental shifts became a sudden solid choice. Sometimes that’s how change works: one day, you simply try something new.

Chicago is a great place to have made that decision. And I’m not the only runner who knows it. This is the first in a new Our Town series highlighting one Chicago Runner a month. We’ll be asking runners of all levels for tips on music, routes, gadgets and more. You’ll hear firsthand what makes a runner, and maybe discover your own impulse to run (away from squirrels.)

October's Runner: Kathie Bergquist

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Photo by Bret Grafton

“Dance is in my blood,” says Chicago fitness professional Haley Stone. “My mom has a BFA in dance, my sister went to Juilliard on a dance scholarship [and] I’ve been in love with the dance since I was four. It seems really natural with me to fuse my passion for dance and fitness.” As the creator of WERQ which she founded with Julie Steffen, that’s just what Stone has done. “WERQ,” she says “is a dance term. It means you are killing a dance move, dancing with your heart on your sleeve, and living that moment on the dance floor.” Stone spoke with Our Town about group exercise trends, fitness secrets and WERQ’s growing popularity in Chicago and throughout the US.

Our Town What attracted you to the fitness world?
Haley Stone I’ve participated in sports since I was about eleven, but it was in college where I truly got hooked on Group Fitness classes. One of my favorite instructors suggested I get certified. I worked a “real job” for a few years and teaching fitness classes was always an a la carte gig. I decided that the fitness world motivated and challenged me in a way my full time job couldn’t, so I committed to the fitness industry full time and love it.

OT What have been the most significant changes in group fitness over the last decade?
HS What I love about the fitness world is the ever-changing trends. Currently, metabolic conditioning and dance fitness are the popular kids on the block. Step and choreographed kickboxing…not so popular anymore. You have a lot more men participating in classes, which I think is thrilling. To be able to teach men, women, young, old, pregnant, obese and more in one class is a true challenge.

OT What inspired you to create WERQ?
HS WERQ has been in my head for a long time. After working at various gyms and teaching loads of different formats, I just thought I can do this, and if I fail, I’m no worse off than I am right now. My friend and fellow Fitness Pro, Julie Steffen and I were driving in my car after a high-energy class we had taught together. It was apparent to me that we could work together as a team in the fitness studio and in business, so I spilled the idea and she immediately got it. The name, the bigger picture…everything and we began to hash out the details of WERQ.

OT How is WERQ different than Zumba?
HS I get this question all the time. Zumba is Latin and international rhythms with core dance moves you see in every class-salsa, merengue, cumbia, raggaeton. WERQ is all pop, rock, and hip hop, top 40 hits, most popular songs of today. When people already know the songs, they catch on to the steps quickly. Plus, we change up the dance moves so that your body doesn’t get used to doing the same thing over and over and risk repetitive use injuries. Beyond the basics, WERQ has a unique warm up that previews the moves you see in class to “burn the circuit” in the participants’ muscle memory. The cool down combines yoga-inspired static stretching with balance poses for increased ROM and injury prevention. Another major difference, WERQ Instructors are all certified Group Fitness Instructors and are educated on how to deliver a safe and effective WERQout. Once you take a WERQ class, you’ll feel the difference immediately.

OT What if you are the worst dancer ever?
HS Every new person says “I’m the worst dancer ever.” Doesn’t matter. The point of WERQ is to move and have fun doing it. My advice to new people is always the same; give yourself time to get into a groove. The first time you take WERQ, it will be a lot for your brain to handle. But instructors only rotate out a few songs at a time, so the next week, you’ll get to do the same songs again and you’ll be better. The vibe in a WERQ class is fun and free. Give yourself permission to throw your arms in the air, sing along, move your feet and WERQ.

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Recently Salon.Huffington/Slate-Gawker.Jezebel ran a piece claiming that the average Valentine’s day celebration costs upwards of $400 dollars. (XoJane was too busy live blogging a pill-popper’s death rattle, out fat-accepting Nomi Lamm and posting dispatches from asexuals who promote egregious footnote abuse to weigh in.)

To me such extravagance feels smarmy and overwhelming although I did just start Netflixing Gossip Girl for the first time and watching Blake Lively flit around the upper east side being hoarse and vaguely Grecian is enough to make Gandhi sneak out to buy a pair of Tori Burch flats. And I’m no Gandhi. (God, I say that all the time!)

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Really though, the point of Valentines Day is not profligacy, the holiday’s purpose is much more exceptional, far more significant: Valentine’s Day’s sacred function is to allow me to buy as much glittery pink heart adorned clothing and jewelry as possible. Also to provide me with a blog topic and here we go.

Sure it’s Valentine’s Day but that doesn’t mean you have to go the expected route, reserving a table at Blackbird and burying your significant other under mounds of Margie’s Candies. Instead I’ve made you a list of personalized alternatives.

Valentine’s Day Roundup (Off the Beaten Path Edition)

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1. If you grew up wanting to star in (insert one) The Red Shoes/Save the Last Dance/Saturday Night Fever: This weekend River North Dance Chicago’s Harris Theater engagement offers two world premieres, "The Good Goodbyes" featuring choreography by RNDC Artistic Director Frank Chaves as well as the first U.S. commission by Italian choreographer and Artistic Director for Spellbound Dance Company, Mauro Astolfi, entitled "Contact-Me."

River North Dance Company member Lauren Kias says this weekend’s premieres are “based around love and passion.” Specifically, “Good Goodbyes” she says “is a warm and cheerful piece celebrating relationships we have with very special people in our lives. Sultry and romantic pieces by Sidra Bell and Frank Chaves, a comedic scat driven solo by Robert Battle and a intense suite of tangos choreographed by Ruben and Sabrina Veliz round out the six piece Valentines day performance.”
Visit rivernorthchicago.com to learn more.

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Recently the New York Times published a sort of expose about the yoga industry, an odd phrase considering yoga’s spiritual roots. Yet, as more Americans flock to the increasingly mainstream discipline, yoga has become quite the sacred cash cow, more comparable to Starbucks than say, Buddhism or my own personal spiritual practice, peanut butter-covered spoon licking.

Actually an excerpt from William J. Broad’s book, The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards, the Times piece seems to me provocative in the way of a local news story that promises to “expose the secret killer in your cheese drawer.” In other words, it’s more alarmist than educational.

You can check it out for yourself here (although if you practice yoga everyone you’ve ever met has already forwarded it to you) but beneath the sensational language and terrorizing examples of allegedly yoga-induced injuries, the article basically says the following:

1. More people are doing yoga now than before; therefore there are more injuries.
2. Some yoga teachers are either inept or, intoxicated by that potent mix of open chakras and power, push students beyond their limits.
3. Yoga students both new and experienced don’t have the balls to tell an ersatz authority figure to back the hell off and maybe while they’re at it pop a breath mint. (Yoga teachers really like garlic; it’s an antioxidant, you know.)

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As someone who has practiced yoga fairly consistently for five years and was born shouting “you’re not the boss of me” you’d think I wouldn’t be susceptible to the faux dominion of some bendy chick in a Lulumon fur coat. (Lulumon does not actually make fur coats, but the yoga tanks they do produce are just about as expensive. Plus wouldn’t it be funny if yoga teachers wore fur coats?)

You’d think this, but you’d be wrong.

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“I was always picked last in gym class,” a friend told me recently. “I bet you never had that problem.”

I wanted to answer her, but I was lying face down on the pavement having tripped over one of those epic Chicago sidewalk cracks. Or maybe the memories were the culprit: oodles of hideous PhyEd recollections unspooling like paper towel from a never-ending roll. From the fourteen-minute mile I eked out in middle school to the scornful looks my classmates cast each time I folded my arms and sidestepped a volleyball, my adolescent gym class experience exploded with humiliating moments.

My friend doesn’t know that though. Like Don Draper, I shed my shabby past in favor of a sharp-suited present, only my suit is made of spandex and I don’t get half as many girls. But also like Draper, the dregs of my shameful origins have settled inside my current self, tainting my day-to-day. What I mean is, I really hate other group exercise instructors. Okay, hate is too strong. But when amongst them, I find myself casting an eighth grade side eye at their glossy ponytails and dazzling diamond solitaries. (They’re always engaged.) I never feel blond enough or thin enough or peppy enough. So maybe it's my junior high self whom I hate.

Here's what I love: being a Spinning instructor. It combines all of my interests: Mix tapes, an audience and silver Velcro-closure shoes. Of course I’m joking. There’s so much more to Spinning. For example, there’s bossing people around. But truly, my favorite part of being a Spinning instructor is motivating my students. Helping each achieve his or her goals.

Recently, I attended a training taught by NuFIT gym owner and Keiser National Trainer Angie Asmann. Despite Asmann’s million watt blond hair and seriously chiseled shoulders, I found Asmann approachable and warm. Not only was she was nice enough to speak with Our Town about fitness, entrepreneurship and indoor cycling, but she’s promised to help me dye my hair blond.

Our Town What led you and your business partner Jen Kamps to open NuFIT?
Angie Asmann NuFIT is Nutrition and Fitness. You need to have both pieces to live a happy and healthy lifestyle. I wanted to make a difference and change people’s lives.

OT What separates Nufit from other health clubs?
AA NuFIT is committed to customer service and personalization. We have created a family at NuFIT. I love watching people transform physically and emotionally.

OT You offer a group X rowing class. How does that work?
AA NuFIT is one of fifty clubs in the world that has put in the Indo-Row program. Indoor Rowing works nine major muscle groups and is the perfect total body workout. People row together in an Indo-Row class and the support and enthusiasm is unbelievable.

OT What’s your personal workout routine?
AA I teach an average of eighteen classes per week, run a business and am raising my eight-year-old daughter, so I do not have a routine for myself. I do, however, do a lot of exercise via my classes so that keeps me fit.

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I’m a taste-maker; at least that’s what my mailman tells me. When I opened the door to collect my mail this morning, he looked me up and down and said, “You got your own style, girl. Don’t let anyone tell you not to show it off.” So before Chicago’s elite rush to follow my lead, I want to be clear that although I’m intrigued by GenoVive, a new DNA based eating plan, I am not specifically endorsing it. However, I did speak with Beverly E Swango, a former NASA employee and current GenoVive Director of Product Development to see what this new diet might offer.

Our Town Do animals in the wild naturally follow a DNA-based diet?
Beverly Swango All living organisms essentially follow a DNA-based diet. Animals adapt to their environment or they don’t live to reproduce. Those animals whose genetic makeup best allows them to make use of available food have a health and survival advantage over animals who are [unable] to process the food that’s readily available.

OT What makes humans different?
BS Our diets are not driven by simple availability. They’re affected by flavor, customs, our social interactions, and lately the amount of time we have available to plan, purchase, prepare, and yes, even consume our foods. Each human has a unique body chemistry determined by our genes. In the last decade, scientists decoded the human genome and gave us the ability to study our individual DNA. Identifying an individual’s specific set of gene variants known to be associated with various aspects of weight management helps us choose the best source of fuel. As we explored the association between weight management and DNA we discovered the emerging science of nutrigenomics, the study of how genes and nutrients interact and how this affects our body’s ability to function. Research in this area is expanding daily and is providing us with the ability to make better food choices based on our specific genetic profiles.

OT Mediterranean and Japanese diets are known to be healthy. How does GenoVive compare to natural ethnic diets? Does one’s race/ethnicity tie into one’s DNA and perhaps naturally influence the way we eat?
BS A key point to remember is the Mediterranean diet is health-promoting for Mediterranean populations, the Japanese diet for the Japanese population. We know that aspects of the [both] are very healthy and that the use of monosaturated fats such as olive oil or Omega 3 Fatty Acids found in fish have a basis in their ability to interact with our DNA to reduce the effects of inflammation. In creating the GenoVive diet we studied recommendations by the major medical associations, the RDA’s (Recommended Daily Allowances), as well as ethnic diets. Race and ethnicity play a role into one’s uniqueness, but [are only] part of the story. In working with the program, I invited my sisters to be tested to determine their dietary profiles. I was surprised to learn that of four immediate family members only two were similar in their resulting profile recommendations and that we also differed in our exercise recommendations. Finding that even family members, who share the same genes from the same parents, have different diet and exercise profiles really drives home the importance of one’s unique set of gene variants.

OT Can I expect to have a completely different meal plan than another person since I have completely different DNA?
BS Our current meal plans fall into four categories. Optimal Balance (OBL) - The basic guidelines of the US “Balanced” diet with an emphasis on calories from Carbohydrates, moderate Protein and moderate Fat. Fat Optimized (OFC) – Emphasis on the “Reduction of Fat,” moderate protein, and Carbohydrates as the balance of calories. Carbohydrate Optimized (OCC) – Emphasis on the “Reduction of Carbohydrates,” moderate protein, and the balance in fat. Fat & Carbohydrate Optimized (OFCC) – Emphasis on the “Reduction of Fat and Carbohydrates.” The protein is increased as a result of the reduction of the other 2 major macro-nutrient groups. [All] the meals are pre-assembled into daily menus to assist the customer in maintaining their recommended meal plan.

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Hey Chicago! Wanna get fit? Yeah, me neither. Actually, that’s a lie, I totally do. But here’s the thing, I lose interest quickly. One general solution I’ve found for my capricious nature is to dress the dog up as a different author everyday. This maintains my interest and gives the dog something to do. But when it comes to fitness, it turns out my short attention span actually benefits me. Bodies are smart, efficient. They find shortcuts, ways to do the same moves yet expend less effort; hence the dread plateau effect. Nothing to do with a landmass, exercise plateaus occur when your workout becomes routinized; you’re plodding away on the treadmill each day, wondering why your practice has lost its effect. So what’s the key to fitness? Make like your workout is (are?) the Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and mix it up. (Dorkiest reference ever!)

One possible option this summer? Camp David, the David Barton Gym boot camp. Running Wednesdays and Saturdays from June 1st to September 1st, Camp David features
cardio drills, agility training and core strengthening, all performed outdoors. Our Town spoke with David Barton himself about the program and his own routine.

Our Town
What can a gym-goer expect from your boot camp?
David Barton Camp David workouts are designed to focus on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as a means of melting fat fast. In order to do this without cardio equipment or weights we selected ‘whole body’ type movements such as sprinting, jump squats, and pushups to maximize the rate of fat oxidation. These movements utilize multiple joints and recruit a large amount of skeletal muscle fibers. Combine that with the appropriate intensity and you’ve got the perfect formula to “Look Better Naked.”

OT By the way, how’d you come up with your ‘Look Better Naked’ slogan?
DB ‘Look Better Naked’ came to me in a dream

OT Some dream. So, why is interval training effective?
DB Interval training has a greater fat burning effect during the twenty-four to forty eight hours following the workout. It’s also better for heart health than a steady run on the treadmill.

OT How long does a session last?
DB One hour. [Chicago groups] meet at the gym and then run to Erie park as a group.

OT Is the boot camp suitable for newbies?
DB All of my classes designed for everyone. The trainers [ensure that] everyone can work out with the appropriate intensity for their fitness level.

OT How are David Barton trainers selected?
DB At DavidBartonGym, exercise is an art form with human flesh as the medium, dumbbell as the tool, and trainer as the sculptor. Each recruit must be able to perceive a body’s underlying potential, what the muscle looks like under the skin. These skills must be so internalized that a trainer can visualize and predict anyone’s results. Finally, each trainer must pass the test of training David Barton himself. Some make it. Some don’t.

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I can’t be the only one. I can’t, because it happens to all of us. No, not getting Katy Perry’s "Teenage Dream" stuck in our heads. Death. I don’t remember how I found out about death, but from the age of four on, I feared it. Not a quiet terror, but a sobbing, sleepless, wake up the neighbors who call the police because they suspect I’m being hacked to death by my parents kind of panic. Now I knew that each person, each animal and tree and--God help me-- the planet itself held within it an expiration date, I couldn’t comprehend how my friends went on playing foursquare and eating glue.

Though my death fixation lasted a decade, ultimately, through some peculiar combination of imagination and denial I managed to force my dread to the periphery of my consciousness, where it reached up to bop me over the head only every few months. Recently however, the apprehension has sidled center stage again, upstaging my usual obsessions. While it’s a relief to no longer worry that the eunuch vampire from "Let the Right One" In lives between my washer and dryer, this mortality anxiety sure is taking up a lot of my time.

While very few people join me when I run nightly down Foster street screaming, “We’re all gonna die,” I know others like me exist and it’s for you I’ve compiled this list.

Things to do in Chicago When You’re Terrified to Die

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1. Attend A.J. Durand’s Queer Yoga Workshop at Yogaview.
Running every Saturday July 2-July 30 from 2:00-3:15p.m., this class is specifically geared to provide queer folks curious about yoga with a safe, supportive, and fun environment. If you’re lucky, the practice will lend you peace and clarity. If you’re like me, you’ll have to flee the room because shavasana means corpse pose.
(Note: Heterosexuals can achieve a similar state of serenity by drinking twenty beers at a Cubs game and then preventing the Clark bus from moving more than two feet at a time.)

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2. Visit XOJane, the new website launched this week by 90’s alternative women’s magazine darling, Jane Pratt. If you had a subscription to "Sassy" as a teenager, the familiar names of her contributors and editors will induce a form of nostalgia, which, if you are lucky, will fill you with awe as to how far you’ve come. If you’re like me, you’ll drop to the floor moaning as if trampled by time’s grime march.

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3. Come to A Taste of StoryStudio, an evening of wine, cheese, and StoryStudio classes designed to help students interested in honing their writing skills at this Chicago mainstay. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. sharp May 20. If you’re lucky, you’ll come away pleasantly buzzed and brimming with inspiration. If you’re like me, you’ll spend the night certain the end of the world is mere hours away.

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4. Sample free frozen yogurt at the opening of Red Mango’s new Loyola location. The giveaway runs 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., also May 20. If you’re lucky, you’ll enjoy a delicious, low fat desert in the vicinity of an institution of higher learning. If you’re like me you’ll convince yourself it’s possible to choke to on yogurt. Or maybe freeze to death from the inside.

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5. Adhere to out-of-touch-rich-celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow’s list of places to visit while in Chicago. (This item is kind of like if a genie granted you three wishes and you used one to wish for a bunch of extra wishes, because it allows me to refer readers to a slew of other Chicago options while technically not exceeding five selections. I’m very clever.) If you’re lucky, you’ll have a number of lovely dining experiences and learn how it feels to sleep on 100,000 thread count sheets. If you’re me, you won’t be able to afford any of Paltrow’s suggestions, but the smoldering envy you’ll experience just might distract you from your mortality.

A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually. IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by followingOur Town on Facebook and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

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I have a theory. Actually I have many, including one where all those random ipod glitches are part of the Computer Race’s master plan to accustom humans to automatically responding to seemingly haphazard signals. For the purpose of this blog however, let’s focus on my Gateway Exercise Theory. You’ve heard of gateway drugs. Pot, for example, is said to open the door to cocaine and heroine, though in my observation, it’s more often responsible for arguments over whether fast or slow moving zombies rock the hardest and over-reliance on the word “dude.”

I think everyone has a Gateway Exercise which, once discovered, helps you gain physical strength and mental confidence, thereby allowing you to try other forms of exercise, even those outside your comfort zone. To uncover your GE, think back to your childhood. What activity was effortless, fun? Me, I loved riding my bike, it felt easy in a way running didn’t—after all, I was sitting down. Predictably then, Spinning is my GE, though I worked out unhappily for a decade before I realized it. Once I started Spinning, it felt natural to branch out. Now I practice yoga, weight train, run and both teach Spinning and take classes. Best of all, I know if the fast-moving Zombies invade, I’ll be able to outrun them.

For physical therapist Shawn Babiarz, biking and swimming were GE’s of sorts, but when he found himself in a workout rut, he decided to further broaden his horizons. Says Babiarz, “I needed to come up with a piece of equipment that challenged my whole body and kept me mentally engaged.” After some trial and error, Babiarz developed KoreFit™, a system which “takes the principles of Pilates” and uses the “Variable Stability System to transfer air between both halves of the KoreFit™ creating a dynamic challenging platform.” Babiarz adds, “You control this challenge by turning the control knob in the center of the unit, allowing you to increase or decrease the amount of air that flows through either side of the KoreFit™.” Essentially then, KoreFit™ amplifies a formerly static workout by, among other things, engaging your abs at all times.

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Mostly, I work from home. Enviable, sure, but my motto is, why dwell on the positive?
Telecommuting, from the old Latin meaning ‘three days, same clothes,’ has a whole slew of pitfalls. Just off the top of my head, I count five:

1. Listening to the dog bite her nails all day. Sounds like she’s part woodpecker.

2. Proximity to peanut butter. I’ve reformed, but not too long ago I couldn’t keep a jar in the house without eating the whole thing and having to call in sick to work the next day. Office job work, not telecommuting which is Greek for only makes contact via facebook. I limit myself to a few spoonfuls now, but I never forget that spreadable temptress is waiting.

3. Distraction via housework. Even a year ago I might have pooh-poohed this very serious issue. But when my biological clock ticks, it sounds like laundry being folded. (You have to listen carefully to hear it). I still don’t want kids, but man do I love to iron.

4. The compulsion to break for yoga. What’s ninety minutes, I think. Besides, the dog gets so caught up watching me she forgets to bite her nails.

5. Reality television. I don’t have cable, so it took me longer than most to rope this bucking bronco, but a few months back I hit some sort of tipping point. I’d been hearing the name Rachel Zoe for years, and suddenly I had to know more. Although it meant watching the show in eight-minute increments on Youtube, I made it through four seasons. Turns out, Rachel Zoe was my gateway drug. Next came the Kardashians, available on Netflix instant. (Khloe is my favorite. I’m happy to discuss.) Then, just because I could…"The Real Housewives of New York City." Before I continue, a clarification: I don’t watch TV rather than work. I do both at once. Don’t judge. I still spend a fair amount of time waltzing with my muse, but some of my writing jobs involve entering data, editing press releases, all activities that have been scientifically proven to benefit from having skinny women with New York accents shouting in the background. Cheaper to hang out with the housewives than move to New York.

It was in this way I came to learn about a Ms. Bethenny Frankel.

KerryMaiorca-250.jpgBY SARAH TEREZ-ROSENBLUM

African-American history month, I get. Women’s history month too; both represent necessary and legitimate reactions to the white male-centric hetero-normative hegemony of antidisestablishmentarianism. (Editor’s note: That was just a cavalcade of big words. She has no idea what she’s talking about.)

But sometimes I question the American impulse to devote finite periods to specific groups or activities. Example: National Talk like a Pirate Day. “Trendy” in the way of mustaches, haiku and Betty White, the Sept. 19 holiday devoted to (what else?) speaking like a pirate seems in bad taste given the recent rise in Somali piracy. But I’ve buried the lead in a shallow grave; this blog’s topic is actually National Yoga Month. More justifiable than Pirate Day, perhaps of less socio-politically supercalifragalisticexpialadosious (Editor’s Note: Ignore her; she’s doing it again) than all those history months, NYM was conceived by California organization Yoga Health Foundation to attract novice yogis to the spiritual and physical practice.

Here in Chicago, studios like Bloom Yoga are bending over backward and then binding to offer special deals and events. Owner Kerry Maiorca (above), who was inspired to open Bloom in 2004 to “create a yoga studio that would be welcoming and unintimidating to all students, regardless of their fitness level or previous yoga experience,” says NYM has spurred a surge of new students.

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David "Honeyboy" Edwards
9 p.m. at Hideout; $12
"Living legend" can be an overused term, but it's hard to think of any other way to describe 95-year-old "Honeyboy" Edwards. The singer/guitarist has been playing the Delta blues since the Great Depression and is one of the few people alive who can talk about the great Robert Johnson from personal experience. He's been recording since World War II and continues to tour regularly, but this will be his last scheduled stop in his hometown till next February.

Rundown Alzheimer’s
7 p.m. at U.S. Cellular Field; $15-$70
The Alzheimer’s Association has raised nearly $10,000 for this event, which features a two-mile run inside the Cell, followed by a concert by Brad Cole. There will also be raffles and prizes throughout the night.

Orgone
8 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $10
Orgone’s distinct blend of hard-edged funk, disco and Brazilian- and African-inspired grooves have impressed some of the industry's heaviest hitters, resulting in a wide array of collaborations ranging from hip-hop giants De La Soul and Pharcyde to R&B sensation Anthony Hamilton and New Orleans funk legend Eddie Bo. For their show at Lincoln Hall they will be celebrating their newest album, Cali Fever, and since this is one of only three stops in the Midwest, expect them to be at their best. The Right Now, Nootka Sound and The Dirty Diamonds DJs open.

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BY SARAH TEREZ-ROSENBLUM

September seems a ways off, but not if you plan to run Chicago’s 14th Annual Half Marathon and 5K at 7 a.m. on Sept. 12. As far as I’m concerned, the early bird catches the syphilis, but for those of you who fancy waking up at the break of dawn to run 13.1 miles, now’s the time to start training. Well, now or five weeks ago, because according to multiple unnamed but very official websites, the optimal timeframe in which to train for a half marathon is nine weeks.

Sponsored by New Balance, Gatorade and Ryder, the event sold out in 2009 and is only accepting 20,000 runners this year. According to the website, highlights include a “scenic view of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan,” and a “commemorative long-sleeve T-shirt,” less than persuasive if you ask me. The lakefront is there whether you’re sweating and chafing or just sitting on a beach blanket sipping lemonade, and Village Discount sells long-sleeved shirts for less than a buck.

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Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

For two miles, one man after another -- six total -- stopped to help my friend Sam this weekend on the Lake Front path. Clad in a coral sundress, she was a damsel in distress when her blue Schwinn road bike’s crank fell apart and she was forced to walk the “piece of $^*&#” (her words) home.

One man, in his 40s, asked her three questions in this order: first, her name; second, if she could walk it home; third, if she was “married, single???”

Taken a-back by the straight-forwardness, immediately, I thought, biking must be sexy.

And if you, too, believe that to be a universal truth, try this week’s date ideas as soon as possible!

RICH MAN: Bicycling and charity work --makes ya look good, makes ya feel good. Have both at the Friends of the Parks’ L.A.T.E Ride on the overnight between July 10 and 11.

Register for $45 per person for this 25-mile benefit ride, where 9,000 cyclists will meet at the Buckingham Fountain at midnight Saturday-into-Sunday and bike through the skyscrapers downtown, the Lake Front by starlight, and many city neighborhoods to end with the sunrise over Lake Michigan and then an all-you-can-eat breakfast at Goose Island after (an additional $7).

All money benefits Friends of the Parks, a 34-year-old not-for-profit parks advocacy group. And I’m not gonna tell you this will be an easy ride, but event coordinators claim the the 25-miles will be all flat roads (except for bridges) and is “doable for cyclists of all levels.”

POOR MAN: Anyone who has not experienced Chicago Critical Mass must!

Thousands of bicyclist take over the streets for this free monthly bike ride across the city. There is a certain amount of rebellion (A big proverbial “Suck it!” to the motor vehicles in the Loop, some of who will honk in dismay) and a certain amount of care-free youthfulness to the event (lasts around three hours through the ups and downs of city neighborhoods). People yell “Happy Friday,” some dress up, some come shirtless, some bring boom-boxes and play Michael Jackson -- all of which will put a smile on the face of you and yours. Rain or shine on the last Friday of the month, meet them at 5:30 p.m. at Daley Plaza, Dearborn and Washington, this Friday!

Also, North Side Critical Mass (Young Lincoln Statue, 5959 N. Clark) meets every second Friday and Pilsen (Tenochtitlan Plaza, 18th and Loomis)and Wicker Park (Polish Triangle, Milwaukee and Division) meet every first Friday.

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Fuerza Bruta: Look Up
Friday-Sunday at Auditorium Theatre; $65-$80; get tickets here
This collision of music, emotion and kinetic aerial imagery resembles nothing less than a fantastic mash-up between aerial theater and a late-night dance party. Be warned: There is no seating, so you'll be on your feet right on stage for the entire hour-plus show.

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Photo via shoutoutlouds.com

Shout Out Louds, Freelance Whales
8 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $15
It's a tired old story – scrappy indie band bangs a sound so evocatively fresh, yet fragile, for a record or two, and then some coastal producer with a record of success ruins it all by trying to take it to the next level. To producer Phil Ek's (Built To Spill, Band of Horses) credit, though, the Shout Out Louds threw a curveball with 2010's "Work," ditching the punk Swedish angst that made "The Comeback" and "Very Loud" the new go-to Nordic sound, for, well, placid themes about work. And not the fun kind of work, but the working for a paycheck kind of work. Ek does make it blossom pristine, but we'll be surprised if these new tunes get major play during this show. Meanwhile, NYC's Freelance Whales have yet to change their tune, offering a charming, almost twee blend of banjo leads, twinkling bells and off-kilter harmonies, pogo-ing somewhere between Matt & Kim and Dashboard Confessional.

Chuck Palahniuk
6 p.m. at Harold Washington Library Center; free
The always interesting author of Fight Club (among other guy-lit classics) is back with a new novel, Tell-All, a visceration of old Hollywood focused, in part, on the exploits of writer Lillian Hellman. Pre-signed copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Chicago Moves Day
11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Daley Plaza
It's time to get in shape -- Da Mare says so himself. Join other Chicagoans for this seventh-annual rally featuring workout sessions in a variety of styles, from bhangra (11:10 a.m.) to body combat (12:30 p.m.). If you can't make it downtown, head to any of the Chicago Park District's 66 fitness centers citywide, where you'll get free admission today.

Cadbury Creme Eggs. Marshmallow Peeps. Ham. Easter is not exactly the healthiest of holidays, meaning you're probably well on your way to derailing all the good you did during your Lent-inspired abstinence.

That's why YouSwoop.com's Wellness Week -- the first of what will be many themed weeks of deals for the site -- comes at a great time. Each day through Sunday, you'll find a different body-focused promotion, from a coupon for heart-healthy sushi to a four-week detox workshop. Check out the full list after the jump.

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Planning on biking to work tomorrow? Your craziness will be rewarded, assuming you work near downtown. From 6:30-9 a.m., the Active Transportation Alliance will be giving out free Caribou coffee to riders who stop by its office at 9 W. Hubbard, in honor of Winter Bike to Work Day (via Chicago Reader).

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Look outside.

Ok, now stop whimpering. You're a Chicagoan, not a D.C. resident! A little snow isn't going to stop your life...but you will have to adapt (that stickball game you were planning might have to wait 'til the plows come take care of your street). In case you weren't quite ready for this blizzard, we're compiling a handy list of all the things you can do in the Chicago area when it's snowing. Have ideas to add? Let us know in the comments.

  • Sledding. Time Out Chicago's got a great guide to area hills. Just be careful - a co-worker here took a spill last week and broke a bone!
  • Skiing. Yes, contrary to popular opinion, there are places to ski in the midwest. Centerstage runs down all the options for bunnies and experts alike. (Cross-country, too.)
  • Museums. Make the most of your indoor time with an educational visit. The Local Tourist has compiled a list of all free museum days in 2010.
  • Workouts. Don't feed us that line about needing an extra layer of fat. These fitness options at local gyms will keep you on track instead of in hibernation. Check out these winter sports leagues, too.
  • Drinking and Eating. This is what you were waiting for, right? Nothing like sitting by the fire with some booze and comfort food. Here are some great places to do just that. (And since you won't be flying anywhere anytime soon, some where you can pretend you're on vacation on a tropical island).
  • Reading. The Chicago Reader's annual fiction issue is online for your pleasure. For more inspiration, check out Jonathan Messinger's Books of 2009, or locally based sites like Bookslut and PopMatters.
  • Sex. Heat things up in the bedroom with advice from our favorite sex columnist, Anna Pulley (aka Centerstage's former Carnal Consultant)
  • Loafing. If you just want to sit and watch TV, that's fine, too. Visit The TV Paige for ideas...and buy tickets now for the B-Fest a full 24 hours of bad movies in Evanston. Of course, that's in a few weeks -- hopefully, this storm will be over before then.

What else you got, Chicago?

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Riot Fest
Through Sunday, various theaters, prices vary ($70 for a three-day pass to Congress Theater)
Several rockin' shows (not to mention a bowling tourney) are spread out across five venues (Congress Theater, Metro, Subterranean, Double Door, Cobra Lounge) during this fifth-annual fest. We're talking mosh-inducing rock and punk including Chicago's own Screeching Weasel, NOFX, Alkaline Trio, Naked Raygun and more. Oi!

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