Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chicago, The Adventurous City

There are all kinds of athletic activities--traditional and offbeat--that are cropping up all over the place. And if it's something new, chances are people in Chicago are willing to try it. At least that's what a Facebook analysis of status updates indicates. The social network looked fitness-related mentions and check-ins over the last three months, as well as tracked usage of fitness-related apps. What it learned was that Chicago has the most mentions of "starting a new sport," and therefore dubbed it the most "Adventurous City."

While the accuracy of this analysis is somewhat arguable, I will say that being named the most Adventurous City is certainly a positive accolade. Especially considering that "adventure" is such a big trend. I recently spoke with the president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, a global organization driven to help businesses thrive in adventure tourism, and he talked about the array of opportunities out there.

Now, when you think of adventure, what comes to mind? Climbing Machu Picchu? Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef? Skydiving...anywhere? Well, you're right, to some extent. Adventure travel does incorporate those kinds of intense experiences, which usually appeal to thrill seekers. But it doesn't have to be that level of excitement to qualify as adventure travel. It can be a bike tour through a forest preserve, or an easy hike around a reservoir, or even a culture tour of ancient ruins. A trip must have three elements to categorize it as adventure travel. First, it has to have some sort of physical activity, and it does not necessarily have to be extreme. In fact, hiking is probably the most common pursuit on adventure tours. Second, there has to be some kind of connection to nature. Third, it has to include some kind of cultural experience.

Chicago is home to people eager to try new sports, according to the analysis. Luckily, there are plenty of adventurous activities locals and visitors can enjoy in the city. The lakefront welcomes runners, bikers, boaters and swimmers, as well as paddle boarders and rowers. There are also a number of specialty fitness clubs for kickboxing and karate and spinning and so much more. Personally, I'd like to try rock climbing. I went a few times growing up in Colorado, but haven't done it in years. It would certainly be a change and a fun experience.

There are only a few rock climbing walls in the city, and most of them are part of fitness clubs, so I assume I have to be a member to use them. Some locations have a day pass to use the rock walls, such as Hidden Peak, which costs $10 for a day or $7 for a lunch time pass. I may have to do a little more research on it, but it could be a fun weekend activity.

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