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Best of Chicago: Health & Beauty

The Editors | January 5, 2017 | Feature

Here, the chefs, shows, shops and more that truly make Chicago shine—plus, smart selections from you, our readers, in categories from cute boutiques to stellar spas.
First Ascent's Avondale location features a six-story wall, the tallest gym dedicated to indoor climbing in the city.

The interest in indoor rock climbing has, excuse the pun, reached new heights. While Chicago has been slow in recognizing what fitness aficionados in cities such as Los Angeles and NYC have known for years—indoor rock climbing is not only a great full-body workout but a lot of fun too—we now have state-of-the-art climbing gyms to call our own, with new ones on the way.

The West Loop’s Brooklyn Boulders Chicago kicked off the trend here in late 2014 with a stunning 25,000-square-foot facility with climbing walls ranging from 8 to 50 feet tall, along with colorful murals, pumping music, yoga, and cardio and weight-training equipment. Those with a fear of heights, take note. “When you overcome that, you can apply it to other things in life and learn you can manage any kind of fear,” says Claire Bao, marketing and events coordinator. “I found that pretty powerful.” Private lessons from $75 an hour, group classes from $49, 100 S. Morgan St., 312.268.0002

When Dan Bartz and his climbing friends got frustrated with having to drive to the suburbs to indulge their passion, they opened not one but two climbing-focused gyms, including a First Ascent in Avondale, which features a 60-foot-wall in addition to yoga classes and fitness equipment. “It’s not just a physical exercise; it’s also a mental one,” says Bartz. “It takes a lot of problem-solving to work your way up the wall.” Private lessons from $75 an hour, group classes from $29, 3516 N. Spaulding Ave., 773.564.9815; 4718 N. Broadway St., 773.275.1212

In 2018, look for Planet Granite to open at least two indoor rock-climbing spaces, each with climbing walls measuring up to 60 feet tall and including full climbing training and fitness and yoga areas. The West Coast-based company brings with it 23 years in the indoor-climbing business to its first locations outside of California and Oregon. 1301 N. Kingsbury St., North Sheffield Avenue and West Diversey Parkway


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