Full disclosure: if you follow me on Twitter (which you should because duh), you know that I’ve occasionally complained about my cellphone service. Yes, I have AT&T. I’ve had AT&T since it was Cingular and the most advanced game you could plan on your 1.5-pound cellphone was “Snake.” Am I dating myself? Whatever. The point is, we’ve been through our ups-and-downs, but AT&T is the longest relationship I’ve ever had and it’s mostly been pretty good. Fourteen years strong…and don’t hold that one year I decided to go to Verizon against me. I was in college. Probably hungover. Or drunk. Regardless, it was a dark time. Moving on.
So when I was offered to cover AT&T’s flagship store’s fitness and tech event this past Saturday, I jumped at the opportunity. First off, I love tech. Second, I love fitness. And third,
I love free stuff. All of this was happening at the same time. I dropped everything I was doing (which was nothing…) and headed to Michigan Avenue.
The event – especially the staff – did not disappoint. There were free fitness classes all afternoon including a boot camp, Pilates, piloxing and yoga. Between every class, there were even fitness competitions for both adults and children where the winning team got a prize. Towards the back, there was a running coach monitoring people on a treadmill as they tried out the new Pear app. Pear pairs (get it?!) with your smartphone to track your heart rate, calories, and workout time. It comes with a wearable strap that fits so comfortably around your waist that you forget it’s even there. When you’re finished, you see exactly how much work you put it. It’s definitely on my wish list.
I arrived about half-hour before the 1pm yoga class and met with AT&T’s public relations
manager Erin. She gave me a tour of the store, we participated in the balance challenge (ahem – and killed it), and we did yoga.
A lot of times when you’re going to events like this (free, at a retail store, on a Saturday afternoon, touristy area, etc.), the freebies aren’t that great. The offerings are so-so. It’s so crowded that you get basically no face time with anyone involved with the event. And if there are any classes, they are abbreviated to the point of basically nothing and can be written off as “this was a total waste of my time and I demand a that 45 minutes of my life back.” Definitely not the case here. Katie and Jaime from Southport Fitness basically kicked my butt. And it was yoga. Being that I’m a Pilates reformer devotee (and Crossfit newbie), I was surprised at how stretched out and flexible I felt when we were finished. I’m definitely not giving up my dates with the reformer or the squat rack, but I am going to add yoga to my routine.
As all of you fit chicks know, the best way to finish your workout is with some post-workout hydration. Now, as much as I’d love for that to be a mimosa (since it’s technically all fruit – grapes and oranges, people), a smoothie or some fresh-squeezed juice is probably the better way to go. We headed over to the food side of the store and talked with a nutritionist. She gave us a recipe for kale – my favorite green vegetable – and some tips and tricks for how to make whole, fresh foods more fun. We finished our food tour with a stop at the juice station where we had fresh-squeezed juices that were amazing.
Aside from the fitness focus, the store itself is very Chicago-centric. Everywhere you look, there are reminders of this great city. From iPhone cases designed by local designers to city-scape wall art to flashing lights and videos, Chicago is central to the design and feel of AT&T’s flagship store.
The flagship store is set up to be less “consumer sales” and more conversational and fun. With round tables, a huge wide-open space and a robot (a robot!), AT&T’s Michigan Avenue store is both a fun place to drop in to shop, to play or to get a quick yoga workout with Chicago’s most flexible and encouraging instructors.