I’m all about finding new ways to burn calories – and was feeling a tad burned out on running in recent weeks – so when I saw that SELF magazine was sponsoring a giant health and fitness festival in Grant Park (with a special appearance by Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser) I bought my ticket, got my dear Margo to go with me, and thought – “Woo-hoo! Awesome! This’ll be inspiring!”
And so…Saturday morning I trekked myself down to Butler Field along with (at least) hundreds of women of all ages, races, and types, clad in my workout clothes, armed with my trusty new backpack, and ready to sweat.
And – it was all rather.. meh.
First: Whoever organized the event either didn’t take into account the fact that if you’re going to have as many women working out in the same place, you have to give them room to move, kick, and punch. They fenced off this big area for the festival, and put the vendor/sponsor tents in the same area, which led to clusters of confusion when people in line at booths and participating in the workout were mere inches from each other. This led to women who wanted to participate in the big open classes actually exiting the designated field and standing on the other side of the fence in order to have room to move during the workout. It was just all rather crowded all the time.
[Also, the event began at 11am. We were all told registration began at 9am. So everyone got here in advance of 11am and .... stood around. Then, the gates opened at 11am and everyone rushed in to sign up for the smaller specialized classes happening later in the day, and by rushing for that missed the first mainstage class. Margo and I managed to sign up for a resistance rebounding class - ie, trampolines and weights - but by the time we got to the front of the yoga line all the classes were full. Meanwhile, at that point the line behind us for yoga classes was really long, and clearly none of the staff was going to tell ALL these women in line that there were no classes left, so Margo, being awesome, took it upon herself to let them know they were just wasting their time.]
Second: I know you can’t predict the weather (Especially in Chicago) but having hundreds of women doing cardio on wet grass = mud. Lots of mud. My legs were covered in mud, my socks were just beyond saving (I literally threw them away in Grant Park) and it’s going to take a serious laundering before my beloved old running shoes can see the light of day again.
Third: If you’re going to hold an outdoor fitness evening in the spring/summer that lasts from 11am to 3pm, you should really have water available for sale somewhere, and maybe some form of food available. As it stood, from 9:45am when I got there to 1:00ish when we finally decided we were over it, we had available to us the “complimentary” bottle of water that came in our goody bag – and that was it. In order to find anything to eat, we had to get a .5oz sample of Blue Diamond Almonds and an EAS energy bar, by standing in lines at sponsor booths. If there was a place water was available for purchase, we couldn’t find it.
Fourth: While there were some GREAT trainers from the Crunch gyms leading classes (I have to commend whoever the hee-larious girl was who taught “Latin Rhythms” and the powerhouse ass-kicker who taught “Cardio Tai Box.”) some of the others seemed a little… new at this? Margo and I were mad excited for “Movieography,” which was supposedly cardio dance set to routines from movie musicals – Footloose, Fame, Flashdance, etc. In reality, the class turned out to be a trainer and some backup dancers who certainly knew THEIR routine, but didn’t really bother trying to teach it to the hundreds of us who had no idea what was going on. The trainer mainly yelled “Yaaa!” a lot. Halfway through, I turned to Margo, and she nodded – we were done.
So, like good Americans, we skipped out on our trampolines/weights class (which we had at least 1.5 hours until the beginning of) and left SELF workout in the park to get coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts.
It wasn’t all bad. I don’t feel like I wasted my money – the tickets were $15 dollars and come with a year subscription to SELF magazine, which is like a $12 value, so.. $3 to hang out at the park with Margo, attend two fun classes, and leave with a cute headband from Ford? AND, I got to see Jillian Michaels speak, and she seems genuine and sincere and nice, so that was cool.
Yes, it could have been worse.
But I feel like it could have been SO much better.
SELF Magazine, if you’re listening, Margo and I would like to coordinate the event for you next year. We have lots of ideas -such as partnering with a bottled water company and pre-registration for classes online while you’re registering for the event as a whole – as well as a layout plan that puts the vendor booth and the yoga “quiet zone” out of the mainstage workout area. [How is yoga possible with loud music blaring?].
We’re willing to negotiate.
I’m just sayin’ – you should call us.