Today I sat down and spoke with the most active person I know, my close confidant Scott Solomon. He has not eaten anything fried in 10 years, and hits the gym seven days a week, even during blizzards and on holidays. He shares with me his advice for someone seeking a healthier lifestyle in Chicago.
Solomon (at bat) playing baseball in high school.
Q: So when was the last time you missed a workout at the gym?
A: I honestly can’t even remember. I like to go every day unless I have a prior commitment, but I can usually get in at least 15 minutes no matter what. I prefer to go for around two hours. Exercise invigorates my soul. It is important for me to stay fit. It helps me feel good about myself. Not only do I feel good, I feel refreshed. My mind is clear and I am able to think. It relieves tension.
Q: Wow, that is quite a commitment! Who inspired you to become so active?
A: I took after my dad, who was a swimmer for as long as I could remember. He used to play basketball, baseball, softball and tennis. I wanted to be just like him ever since I was a kid.
Q: So when an Xsport Fitness opened a block from your home, you and your father were first in line to join, right?
A: Yes, we were. I was 14 years old. You are supposed to be at least 16, but they allowed me to join because nobody minded. I didn’t get in the way of other people. Even after my father passed away (in 2008) I continued to go to Xsport every day. I froze my membership when I was studying at the University of Illinois, but now that I am back in Chicago, I’m back at the gym. I’m still locked into my $35 a month contract.
Q: The rates have now gone up to $50 a month for a new member. Would you still say that Xsport is the ideal gym even with a higher price tag?
A: Absolutely. There are dozens of locations in the Chicagoland area, and all of them are included with your membership. They have free parking, a rock climbing wall, a hot tub, swimming pool and basketball courts. I think the included amenities offer a good value for the money compared to other gyms. Although the included facility at U of I wasn’t bad either.
Q: What would you recommend for someone trying to get in shape in Chicago?
A: Well, they could join me. I could take them under my wing. Just kidding. I would say to start out nice and easy. Join a gym. Go three times per week, even if its just walking on a treadmill. There’s the great social aspect of a gym too. I consider mine to be an extension of my home. I have made many life-long friends there. People will not judge you as long as you are out there trying your hardest. If people know you want to be there, people will encourage and motivate you to get to your goals.
Q: Beyond going to the gym, what other activities would you recommend to stay fit?
A: Riding a bike along the lake path is nice, obviously. I would say, though, to get a dog. Not only is taking it for a walk or run great exercise, but its also a great way to meet women. When I went out with my dog, women flaunted over him. They would say how cute he was. Then they would start flirting with me.
Q: Switching gears a bit here, you also keep a strict diet with no fried and all-natural foods. How do you do it?
A: I used to have stomach problems, so I was forced to change my diet. I could probably eat a lot of fried foods and not gain weight because I exercise a lot. Even though my stomach is better now, I keep my diet because it helps me feel better. I think that a lot more people could benefit from a healthier diet.
Q: Any last words of advice?
Join a gym, get a dog, try your hardest and stay away from deep dish pizzas!