No matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah or Festivus, this time of year finds many of us stressed out, eating everything in sight and spending too much money. But you don't have to drown your feelings in a glass of spiked eggnog or try to hide those extra winter pounds with bulky sweaters; Chicago's holistic mind-body fitness and spa community has all the earth- (and wallet-) friendly classes and services that you need to stay happy, healthy and glowing into 2009 and beyond. As a bonus, we've found some ways to get that holiday buzz without regretting it in the new year.
From sweaty workouts to sweaty saunas and steam treatments, these all-inclusive spots give you the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the season without having to, well, hustle around to several different places. Best of all, you'll get all the relaxation of a retreat/secluded spa without the cost.
Located in the Gold Coast, Exhale was one of the first all-inclusive mind-body centers in Chicago. Start off with yoga or the signature Core Fusion class, an intense toning and tightening total body workout that borrows moves from dance, yoga and pilates. After all your hard work, reward yourself with a body treatment. Try the Fusion massage, a bodywork treatment that combines traditional Swedish techniques with therapeutic oils and hot compress. It's best when followed up by a pedicure using Exhale's exclusive GRN earth-friendly line or Eliza's Eyes eyebrow shaping, eyelash curling and lash and brow tinting to flatter your face.
How to save: Exhale takes 25 percent off massage and facial appointments on Tuesdays, 50 percent off all 8 a.m. spa services and Eliza's Eyes is $100 instead of $150 for the month of December. If you fall in love with the spa, which you likely will, join with a friend in December or January and each of you will pay a discounted monthly membership rate of $160 (includes classes and 20 percent off spa services). Spend $150 or more on one receipt before February 15, and you'll get your choice of a complimentary mind-body class or an add-on with your next facial purchase.
Soulistic Studio & Spa
At Soulistic, it's all about the individual. Class sizes are kept small, there are private showers/bathrooms (no big locker room here) and even a private, better-for-your body infrared sauna. The class schedule offers pretty much everything, including African Dance, Capoeira, Nia, Circuit contact kickboxing, pilates and a slew of yoga workshops. The spa services are just as varied; the organic Hungarian skin-care line Eminence is the perfect line for this eco-conscious studio. Try the Skin for all Seasons facial, a treatment that uses enzymes, antioxidants and botanicals from seasonal fruits and veggies to balance, revitalize and give skin a glow.
For serious detoxing and rebalancing, meet with Soulistic's ayurvedic therapist. She'll analyze your dosha (mind-body constitution) and make dietary, herbal and yoga suggestions. In addition to consultations, Soulistic offers an exotic menu of healing (and very relaxing) ayurvedic treatments. Try Abhyanga Pinda Sveda, a massage that uses grains, herbs and oils wrapped in cloth to stimulate the body and induce detoxification.
How to save: Soulistic has put together four incredibly affordable packages that allow you to sample all the different offerings for up to 20 percent off. The Mind Body Rejuvenation Package includes a 60-minute private yoga, pilates or personal training appointment, a 60-minute spa service and a 30-minute session in the infrared sauna for just $150 (normally $190). The three-and-a-half-hour Ultimate Relaxation Package includes reflexology, thai yoga therapy, a facial and sauna session for $250 (normally $300). See the site for other options.
Unless you're a member of David Barton Gym, you may not be able to sweat it out before your spa treatments at Allyu, but you can still have a full day of holistic, green pampering. New for the season is the Pumpkin/Milk Body Mask and Cinnamon/Clove Sugar Scrub. Natural and made by hand, this treatment starts with dry skin brushing to stimulate important lymphatic drainage; next comes the mask, which breaks down dead skin cells, and finally the sugar scrub, which stimulates the senses and reveals fresh, soft skin. After the scrub is applied, customers take a quick trip to the shower to rinse and renew, and then return to the treatment room for a relaxing, full-body application of organic aloe, yerba mate and essential-oil moisturizer.
How to save: Create your own mini spa package by adding on a session in the infrared sauna for $20. Take an extra 20 percent off any massage booked in conjunction with the wrap and scrub or receive a free marine peel upgrade with a 60 or 90-minute facial.
Yeah, we know. You can workout and stretch out, but sometimes you just need a good cocktail to help lift the spirits. Here are our top picks on where to imbibe - healthily.
What Nacional lacks in earth-friendly design, it makes up for with its use of fresh ingredients, natural foods and supporting local farmers markets. The River North restaurant recently unveiled two new cocktails.
First, there's the the low-cal Suba, a South Beach Cuban Libra Martini made with Bacardi Light, celebrating their recently launched weekly Friday night event, Miami Nights.Then there's the Look Better Naked Margarita, made of Reposado tequila, agave nectar (much better for you than sugar), egg white and the South American berry acai. Truly one of the world's best superfoods, Acai only grows in the rainforests of Brazil and is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that will not only make your taste buds sing but also help tame those nasty free radicals. Plus, after a few of these, you won't have any problem hitting the dance floor and burning some calories while dancing to South Beach-inspired house music.
How to save: If you're not a weekend warrior, head to Nacional on Tuesday for the Tapas and Latin Jazz special. For $9.95, you get to enjoy a special tapas tasting selected by the chef and the Latin jazz stylings of the Dave Hiltebrand Trio. Also, head to Nacional after work on Fridays and enjoy complimentary South-Beach inspired ceviches and tapas from 5-6:30 p.m.
Butterfly Social Club
Under new ownership, Butterfly Social Club has expanded its once unique and ambitious organic drink menu to include traditional beers and liquors. But, a quick flip to the back of the drink menu reveals that the organic, raw and non-alcoholic cocktails are still there. The jungle cacao is 100-percent raw, organic and non-alcoholic. It's the perfect mix of raw cacao, coconut meat, Amazonian herbs, agave nectar and it's great for those looking to get a supernatural buzz, satisfy their sweet tooth and give their body something good. If you need something with a little more kick, the Ginger Mojito is absolutely to die for; the fresh mint, organic rum and ginger give the cocktail a refreshing kick.
How to save: Unfortunately, Butterfly doesn't run any promotions or specials with their superfood cocktails, but you can save your stress levels by getting to the club earlier before it gets too packed. Also, be warned that you'll need a little patience to get a drink here. The bartenders are slow, but the cocktails are worth the wait.