Well, the people have spoken. Another blog has been requested. I haven’t written one since my time has sadly come to an end in Chicago and there are many entertaining updates that must be shared. I finished my internship a few weeks and ago and since then spent some much needed time back home with family and am now settled back in Durham where I plan to stay until I get fully healthy and back to playing!
Reflecting back on my time in Chicago I’ve realized I truly came a long way. Looking back to day 1 getting heckled by a homeless man, I never would have thought I’d come as far as I did. I came to Chicago with a few goals:
1. Make the most of my internship
2. Explore as much as possible
3. Find a friend with a boat
And I’m happy to say I accomplished all of them.
My internship was definitely made the most of. I helped contribute with Walk On! America, a cross-country non-profit bike trek initiative that raised over $400,000 for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities community.
Highlights of this project included...
A work trip to NYC for the grand finale finish.
A Trip to Nasdaq in Times Square.
A 7 hour Nelly/Kanye filled car ride with my co-worker @JohnClarke
And a 5-star co-worker Karaoke performance duet
I went to Omaha, Nebraska to work the College Home Run Derby. When we weren't shagging balls or helping set up for the event, they let us get some batting practice in ourselves. I got to re-live my Baseball glory days. Fun fact: I was once the only girl and pitcher on my rookie baseball team and made the boys cry when I struck them out.
My second goal was to get as much exploring in as possible. I’d say I did just about everything you could do in Chicago in 3 months, including my fair share of eating… thanks to my culinary expert coworkers, I made my way through Chicago one restaurant at a time. One thing I quickly learned when moving to a big city by yourself is that you have to be comfortable doing things on your own. And that also includes eating alone from time to time. I use to be super against this and refused to be seen eating solo, but it didn’t take long for me to get over it and just embrace it.
While I did, in fact, have friends I promise, I went on plenty of solo ventures in Chicago. Best one of the summer happened to be my last day in Chicago. I couldn’t not go to a Cubs game while I was in Chicago. So while I didn't have a wingman because most people work on Fridays, I went anyway. Bought the cheapest ticket I could find, hopped on a Divvy bike and made my way to Wrigley. Got myself a Cubs hat, Chicago style dog and I was a happy gal. I even upgraded my way up to some seats behind home plate… the key is to just act like you belong. I now get why Cubs fans are obsessed.
Another not so typical form of exploring I did in Chicago is what I like to call "Gym Hopping". While my office did have a gym I could use, I also wanted a place with a pool so I could swim for rehab, a court for ball handling, then some spin and yoga classes didn’t sound too bad either. Naturally, I’m a cheapo so I’d rather not spend a ridiculous amount of money on a place I’m only going to use for a couple months. Sooo, after some research, I found out most places give out free gym trials anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks. Perfect.
I’m proud to say I finessed my way into 7 different free gym memberships. At times it was stressful… long gym tours, follow up calls, detailed interview questions (what are you looking for in a gym, preferences, etc). but other times it was quick and simple. “Here’s the gym, enjoy!”. I really appreciated the quick and simple.
I will say, I do feel a bit guilty about my deceptive story... “I’m visiting for a week, plan to move back in the fall, looking for a great gym!”, BUT, to repay those gym membership employees I deceived…I will happily endorse Chicago Athletic Clubs and FFC to anyone looking for a nice gym in the Chicago area! Truly state of the art, everything you need and more! I’ll keep the other gyms unnamed that I wasn’t a huge fan of.
Throughout my gym-hopping exploration, I definitely realized a few things. Gym Culture. Is. Real. There is definitely a hierarchy “level” of gyms and characteristics that fit each one. From best to worse, I've decided these characteristics are most fitting:
1. Gymtimidation 2. Sausage Fest 3. Just sad 1. Gymtimidation. This represents the higher end fitness clubs. These places have it all. A gym obviously, but also any class you can imagine, spas, work out pools AND recreational pools, sundecks, grills, bars, virtual golf, you name it. I’ve heard the Planet Fitness “Gymtimidation” marketing slogan before but never really understood it or felt it until my first high-end Chicago fitness club experience. And I was certainly “Gym-timidated”. Anytime I work out, my outfit remains the same. Basketball shorts and a t-shirt. Hair in a ponytail or bun. And lots of sweat involved. If I’m feeling like dressing up, I’ll keep my pearl earrings in. I walk into my first Chicago Athletic Club… and I am embarrassed. These girls are dressed to the nines in lulu lemon multi-colored spandex, the cutest razor back sweat resistant tops you can find, stylish braided hair, full makeup and maybeeee a slight sweat glisten. Then there are guys rocking their Lulu Lemon tops and the newest lightweight-hyper dunk-fitness technology-flynit-drifit Nike shirts while judging the other guy's weights and slyly checking out the girls on the ab mats. This place was a whole social scene in itself and I was just taking it all in.
2. 2. Sausage Fest. This represents the mid-level gyms where 80% of the population is men. I did feel slightly uncomfortable being the only girl in the weight room but at the same time slightly more at ease I wasn’t working out beside Instagram or Lulu Lemon models. These gyms have everything you need to get a solid work out in, but unfortunately no afternoon rooftop yoga or evening BBQ’s. One downside to the sausage fest gyms is there’s always that “one guy”. The one guy who is just too into his workout, whether its huffing and puffing, beating his chest, jumping up and down to hype himself up, or worse.. playing the fake drums. True story, I witnessed a man so hype that he was having a full on air drum solo before his next bench press rep. It was unfortunate.
It was also here where I experienced my first “Pre-workout” drink gone wrong. I’ll admit, I’m a caffeine addict, so when I saw a bottle that said “EXPLOSIVE ENERGY”, I thought to myself… I need it. So I’m drinking this thing before my spin class, and all of the sudden, pins and needles. Starts in my arms... goes to my face. Everything itches and I can’t stop it. So I’m basically squirming/ scratching my body for 30 out of my 45 min spin class, considering calling my mother... before it finally starts to wear off. Never again. If you try it, I recommend drinking moderately.
3 Just Sad. No other way to put it, these gyms are just sad. Sticky weights, dirty mats, smelly people, etc. I only went to a couple of these out of pure convenience of location. I went swimming at one, only to find out after my swim the gym offered no towels. I walked back to my apartment afterward and could have easily been mistaken for a wet dog. Just sad...
My third goal of the summer was to find a friend with a boat. I remember clearly the first time I saw all the beautiful boats tied up to each other in the harbor while I was taking the bus home down Lakeshore Drive. They say when you know you know... and I knew. I told my mom week 1, “I’m finding a friend with a boat somehow, someway”. 10 weeks later, God was on my side. I found a friend/co-worker (s/o to Sammie) that came through.
Since Chicago I spent a short time home, where I finally put on my camp I may have been blowing up your social media feeds with, I apologize. Having never done something like that, I was obviously nervous, but it was executed flawlessly with some awesome help and was so much fun! The 75 girls (and few brave boys that showed up) were so stinkin cute and fun to coach.
I’m now back in Durham where I plan to call home until I’m fully healthy and ready to start pro-bball life. No more gym-hopping needed! Cameron and the basketball facilities here make a great replacement. Now that I’m back the real work begins. I still have a long way to go in my recovery, but being at a place like Duke makes it hard not to be motivated to get back to playing. Chicago was great, but If I want to play professionally, I unfortunately can’t be in such close proximity to deep dish pizza. Lou Malnati's, you will be missed...