My second favorite city is officially Chicago. The Laughing Cow invited me to join them at the Chicago event, SELF Magazine’s Workout In The Park this past weekend. Not only did they have me at Chicago, but the icing on the cake was working alongside Lisa Lilien of Hungry Girl. It’s funny, people either LOVE HG or they have never heard of her. Although HG really is a newsletter, I guess you could argue she was the first healthy lifestyle blog I read.
I left on Friday around noon to catch my Jet Blue flight to O’Hare taking public transportation to be budget savvy.
I stopped by Boloco before security and picked up a salad/burrito bowl. After Reach The Beach, I had the best bowl experience and have been craving another ever since. When I saw the store front and knew I could get a salad with mango and chicken, so it was an easy travel lunch decision.
When I got to The Palmer Hilton hotel, I was blown away by how nice it was! Thank you, TLC. Apparently there was a lot going on in Chicago and rooms were a hot commodity. I think the luxury was by default since they were some of the only rooms left in the area. I had dinner with a few of the Laughing Cow marketing ladies at 312 Chicago. I had the Halibut with pureed fava beans and cauliflower. It was delicious!
Before bed, housekeeping turned down the sheets and gave me a forecast card. More hotels should do this. Yeah, I have an iPhone with weather apps but still the gesture was appreciated.
The event began at 11 AM. I arrived at 10:30 to get situated with my crew and duties of the day. I was shocked that people were getting to the event early, lining up at the gate waiting for it to open. We were expecting about 2500 people (99% women).
My job was to basically narrate the event for a camera crew, interviewing attendees, Lisa (Hungry Girl), try the classes and interact with the Cow. I was excited to be involved with TLC in the flesh rather than just online. Have you ever attended or thought of attending an event like this? The Workout In The Park was my first experience. After reading about them for years in the magazine (this was their 18th!) and frustrated they never came to Boston, I was eager to see how popular they were.
I was so excited to finally meet Lisa. I told her that she had posted one of my videos with Diet.com and she remembered it! It was the one with the 4 year-old cheeseburger. I asked her what her preferred method of fitness was and she shared that she loves to watch to TV so walking on the treadmill on an incline of 8 is her cardio pick, in addition to strength training with a trainer 2 days a week.
The day started with a stretching class that lasted about 20-minutes. I recognized one of the instructors from the Fitness Magazine event in NYC last month! Rain taught a bunch of us how to do African Dance with Kickboxing flair which left us bloggers sweaty and in need of a shower before our Mexican Dinner. I couldn’t wait for her session on the main stage.
While the classes were being taught, the vendors along the edges were giving out samples of their products like Reebok, Lucy, Garnier, Smart water and Luna Bar. The Laughing Cow was sampling their new Smooth Sensations Cream Cheese Spreads. As some of you know Cinnamon Cream is my favorite. I couldn’t believe how many people were afraid to try it! People, trust me when I saw it’s the BEST. The Laughing Cow brand rep agreed as well that in the office it was one of the most popular. I got one reluctant attendee to try it against her will, and it was hilarious to watch her eat her own words as she was chewing. She conceded her initial reaction.
From 90’s Fly Girl to Beach Body Bootcamp, the attendees were exercising the entire time! HG told me that in NYC, people were doing the classes but socializing and sampling equally. In Chicago, it was more about the sweat! There was a quiet zone dedicated to Yoga and Pilates, as well as a Reebok CrossFit corner that required attendees to sign up in advance. Every class was sold out and simply packed!
It was a perfect day for the event, 72 and mostly sunny. I felt kind of bad for the cow in the costume since it was rather warm to be wearing a heavy costume but every time I looked over at him, you couldn’t tell one bit! He was so energetic and positive!
I decided he needed to join me for some African Dance. I again, felt bad showing him up since I had done the class just a month prior and loved it. Check out this awesome action Hungry Girl snapped of us and posted to her Facebook page.
After the event, I took some time to be a tourist and appreciate the wonderful city that Chicago is. I stuck around Saturday night to stay with my friend Andrea and caught an early flight home on Sunday. I can’t wait to go back and am so thankful for the opportunity to visit!