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Try workout outside your comfort zone

Windy City Adventure Boot Camp's 'chariot run' drill beach is full-body workout thbuilds power for sprinting. | Contributed

Windy City Adventure Boot Camp's "chariot run" drill on the beach is a full-body workout that builds power for sprinting. | Contributed

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Five to try

Evanston Broomball League:

Windy City Adventure Boot Camp:

Chicago Sport and Social Club:

Barre Bee Fit:

Chicago Curling Club:

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Updated: July 25, 2013 9:56AM

Graham Hallen gets befuddled when he tries to understand how broomball became his preferred game of choice. After all, soccer had been a constant in the 29-year-old’s life since childhood.

But when he started playing the recreational ice game with friends three years ago, he felt his soccer league games “got in the way of broomball, which was insane,” Hallen said.

And, yet, he swapped his cleats for chunky-soled shoes and a stick. In addition to playing on two teams with the Evanston Broomball League, Hallen, of Des Plaines, travels to compete in tournaments.

“Sometimes we stick with what we know because we’re good at that,” Hallen explained. “For people who play sports growing up to get into something new and figure it out is awesome. To rediscover the passion of sports is pretty neat.”

That willingness to try physical activities outside of one’s comfort zone is, in a sense, characteristic of Windy City dwellers, at least according to Facebook. A recent study by the social networking site found Chicago to be the “Most Adventurous City” in the United States based on how many people added “started a new sport” to their profiles. (The sample size of 200,000 Facebook users represents a tech-savvy fraction of the population, and the study assumes most everyone online is honest.)

However, one need not look any further than the city’s parks and lakefront to find Chicagoans escaping the confines of the gym workout. The chance to spend more time outside her Logan Square home inspired Jackie Noto to sign up with Windy City Adventure Boot Camp six years ago.

“I was just looking for something different,” she said. “The gym was boring.” In addition to hitting weekday boot camp classes at 5:30 a.m., Noto, 48, incorporates paddleboarding and outdoor running into her regimen. She only heads inside when the weather is bad.

Jason Erkes built his business banking on people wanting to socialize as well as work out. So far that formula has worked. The Chicago Sport and Social Club president said the fact that the city boasts the largest provider of recreational sports leagues in the country demonstrates residents here are looking to shake up stale routines.

“If you’re going to be in a gym on a treadmill with your headset on, you’re certainly not socializing,” Erkes said. “Being able to hit a volleyball or head out to a football field gets you the physical activity but also the social activity a lot of people crave. It’s an important factor in people choosing what their activity is.”

Nanci Reggi, 25, said she canceled her gym membership after discovering Barre Bee Fit in February. Classes at the boutique fitness club’s studios in River North, Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast feature cardio and strength-training exercises that revolve around a ballet barre.

Reggi heads to the studio five days a week not only to work out, but also for the group experience.

“For me it’s replaced the treadmill, but it’s more than just fitness,” she said. “I view it as a lifestyle change.”

Carolyn Lloyd said finding an activity she genuinely enjoyed and could stick with was a game-changer. After picking up curling in Philadelphia eight years ago, the 36-year-old Chicago transplant was relieved to find a similar community here. Curling has not only led Lloyd to lose 80 pounds in the last year, she said, but playing has helped improve her emotional resilience.

“One of the things I like about it is that I’m never going to have to quit,” Lloyd said. “It’s really kind of indescribable how special this game is.”

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