Following up with our Explorer of the Month, Pamela Estwick, 4-Star Explorer geared up for a stint in the city. But who would have known that my sorority sister (soror, for short) was living day-to-day as a hidden health-nut hunny? So what was the plan for the day? 4-Star, with a lot of insider info from Pam, crafted a day of events that will help you stay active and sharp both mentally and physically. Trying to start that diet you've been making New Years Resolutions for since '94? Has your workout routine consisted of a series of 'I'll do it tomorrow's? Then let 4-Star show you how its done.
I've been a fan of the character Carrie Bradshaw since I was 13, so allow me please to slip into my fabulous fantasy state for a moment and say I felt so Sex and the City only in that I am a young single lady getting out and enjoying the city. I used to watch every episode faithfully and believed that every woman woke up early on Saturdays and took spinning classes. But as I floated back down to reality I knew the truth was that on any given Saturday you'd be lucky enough to see me awake before noon let alone spinning but there I was at 9:45 a.m. speeding frantically down 55 North trying to beat the morning rush of yuppie familial units making the great migrate from suburbia to take advantage of museums, parks, and art galleries. Yes, the well-to-do couples who are still grasping at the hipster lifestyle while pushing chic baby strollers. And somewhere in between McCormick Place, Lake Shore Drive, and yellow cones I'm trying to feverishly make it to the 10:30 Kundalini yoga class that Pam suggested. Catching a break as the traffic controls cleared the last road blocks from the Breast Cancer Walk that had occurred earlier that morning, I was able to shimmy over to the Columbus Drive exit, make my way over to Wabash, get my favorite parking spot over near Balbo, and had just enough time to speed walk to the class while they were just uttering their first "Ommmmm."
Fine Arts Building
410 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
Now, I was a little hesitant about this yoga class. I've always been pretty limber but as my mother would say, "I ain't no tiny." I wondered would a beginner be able to grasp this particular style of yoga. Kundalini yoga is special in that it connects physical stretching and strengthening of the muscles with spiritual focusing. The particular class we were taking that day was entitled "Rebirthing" which calls for the release of old insecurities leaving the yogi to feel light and free. I don't know about you but there's a past skeleton or two I'd like to permanently be rid of. The exercises weren't impossible to do but some of the positions the master yogi, Shakta, asked us to get into caused me to raise an eyebrow a time or two. Though, we were focusing on a path to enlightenment I couldn't help but be my sarcastic self doing more than quieting my mind as I thought statements like "I ain't doing that lady I paid you $17 for this class" and "Oh yea if the past yogi were so great then why are they dead?" But I don't know what is was, maybe the fuming incense, or the droning gong that Shakta clanged but I eventually stopped fighting it and really got into the session. And I've gotta say I'd recommend it to anyone, it's not high impact but you will feel it for the next 24 hours as the class mantra states. I plan on going back myself but probably to one of the 45 minute classes instead of the hour and half that I undertook. The prices range from $11-$17 and you'll enjoy the charm of the old-timey Fine Arts Building equipped with it's own manual elevator attendant.
We came down from our state of transience and agreed it wasn't our chakras but our stomachs that need fulfillment. We dashed to do every Chicago driver's reluctant pratice of feeding the meter and made our trek towards the financial district where Pam discovered a great vegan restaurant. While on the way we popped in into the Loop's branch of the Chicago Public Library. And once again she amazed me and proved that there was no other candidate for the very first Explorer of the Month by sharing a great urbanite tidbit that would make bookworms rejoice! Apparently many of the Chicago libraries have books that are either outdated or been replaced due to some wear and need a loving home. Everyday they parade a new exhibit of secondhand books. You can take as many as you'd like and though there's no set price on this little treasure a quarter or two is suggested. Finally, a stray you can bring home and you don't even have to housebreak it.
218 South Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60604
Finally, we arrived at the pièce de résistance one of Chicago's premiere vegan restaurants. This holistic cafe which also has chains in other states feature vegan and vegetarian fare with fresh produce brought in daily with the catch that none of the dishes there feature anything that is the product of an animal. That doesn't mean just no meat but also eggs, milk, and many shortening products. You may be wondering exactly what's left to eat at that point but I assure you Native Foods doesn't let the use of no animal products work against them. They have created their own tofu constructed proteins to mirror the taste and texture of popular meats. I ordered the Gyro Bowl which featured Seitan, a tofu replacement for lamb. The faux gyro meat took a bit to get used to but I've gotta say the vegetables were the star of the show featuring some steamed kale that was to die for! Also you can't leave without trying the lavender lemonade! And for the sweet tooth in all of us a nice carrot cupcake will do just the trick but I honestly scrapped the frosting off because the moist cupcake was really all you need.
Overall, the day proved to be a healthnut's dream and for some of you workout wannabes straggling the fence this may be the push you need to "fall" into fitness. After a day of many firsts this exploration proved it's never too late to get into something new. And c'mon you always remember your first.