Pandemic spring cleaning

By Mat Cohen and Daniel Patton

Spring cleaning comes every year, but with the addition of Illinois’ stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone in Chicago has extra time to take precautionary health measures. Local organizations and businesses are taking extra steps alongside residents to start fresh as summer begins to roll around.


The Chicago Transit Authority

The CTA has created a new “Coronavirus Info” page on its website detailing their response to the current health crisis.

Daily procedures for CTA train stations include cleaning and disinfecting fare gates, turnstiles, Ventra machines, escalator handrails and elevator panels.

The daily schedule for buses and trains includes cleaning and disinfecting seats, straps, handrails and fare boxes. The vehicles also undergo routine deep cleans that include intensive floor scrubbing.


The Chicago Loop Alliance

Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) and Power Washing Systems took to the streets March 25 to wash sidewalks, trashcans and any other public structures from Ida B. Wells Drive to Wacker Drive.

In a news release from CLA, Bill Mologousis, president of Pressure Washing Systems, said the company is taking extra measures for everyone’s safety.

“We’re not just allowing this wastewater that’s generated from these cleaning operations to enter the storm sewer system and maybe create an environmental impact,”Mologousis said. “Anyone can pressure wash this into the sewer, not many companies have equipment that will prevent it from going into the sewer system.”

CLA will team up with Pressure Washing Systems to clean and disinfect sidewalks, trashcans, and other infrastructure each week in the Loop. The process will use a quaternary disinfectant cleaner called QuatSan, which is “effective at killing a variety of bacteria and viruses, includingCOVID-19,” according to a news release.


McHugh Construction

The company responsible for raising Vista Tower 1,200 feet into the air is “still working,” according to a recent post on its Facebook page.

Construction is among the categories that are exempt from Governor Pritzker’s March 20 stay-at-home order.

But McHugh is also “taking significant steps to ensure we are extra vigilant as the situation involving coronavirus continues to rapidly evolve,” the post continued. Among them: requiring employees who have a house member that is sick with respiratory illness to stay home, limiting business travel and large gatherings, allowing employees to work from home, and monitoring supply chains and CDC guidelines.


Local Residents

On the residential side, Mission 2 Organize and Organizing With You are professional companies that offer many different services, including virtual sessions to help people de-clutter and organize.


Mission 2 Organize

Schae Lewis and Bahar Partow founded Mission 2 Organize a decade ago after reassessing their own lives and deciding they’d rather work for themselves. As the business took off, the duo quickly realized they were getting five-star Yelp reviews and adding value to people’s lives.

Pooja Gugnani shared a similar experience when she founded Organizing With You.

“I noticed I was helping people to get organized and I felt like I could add value,”Gugnani said. “I decided to look in to setting up a business.”


Organizing With You

Organizing With You has just celebrated its 10-year anniversary. It offers reorganization in any area of the home or business and helps with time manage mentor relocation. The company also offers customized virtual organizing, a process that begins with clients walking Gugnani through their space while she develops a maintenance plan.

Gugnani said that in Chicago, where space is limited, it’s important to stay clean and organized to help with mental clarity, especially after a big life event or the new stay-at-home order.

“It will increase mental and physical well-being,” she explained. “After a death or a divorce it can truly help, it can save a lot of time and help with mental challenges.”

Visit and for more information.

Organizing With You is offering a first-time client special in honor of its 10-yearanniversary.

You can also visit Mission 2Organize’s blog with many helpful tips at

Streeterville doctor’s class helps expectant parents know what to expect

by Stephanie Racine

Expectant parent classes can cost a substantial amount in downtown Chicago. For example, classes at Northwestern Hospital cost from $50-$120.

 But Dr. Daniel Weissbluth, a pediatrician who has an office in Northwestern’s campus in Streeterville, is out to buck the trend.

We figure it should be free,” he said. 

Dr. Weissbluth’s office offers free prenatal classes on topics including CPR and infant safety, breastfeeding, sleep and newborn care. 

“We saw an educational gap and we wanted to fill it,” he said.

The classes include important information for new parents. Dr. Weissbluth said most first-time parents are unaware of the sleep deprivation that comes from having a new baby.

New parent Jessica Kushner took the classes at Dr. Weissbluth’s office in preparation for her son Lorenzo, born Oct. 14, 2019. The most valuable class she took was Newborn Care: The First 48 Hours and Beyond, Dr. Weissbluth said. Newborn Care covers the delivery process in the hospital and what to expect once new parents arrive home.

“I would have been walking in blind,” Kushner said.

The internet is inundated with information about having a baby, but Dr. Weissbluth’s classes gave Kushner a baseline of truth, she said. 

The classes are intended for first-time parents and family members who want to attend are welcome—as long as they register in advance. 

The instructors offer their email address for participants to follow up with any questions they may have. Dr. Weissbluth’s office is also available for information. 

“We encourage questions,” Dr. Weissbluth said. 

Northwestern Hospital offers free tours of their triage, labor and delivery and postpartum floors at Prentice Women’s Hospital. Registration is required. Visit for information. 

For other expectant parent classes, UChicago Medicine offers free classes at their Hyde Park location. Visit for information.

Dr. Weissbluth’s Streeterville office is at 737 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 820. For questions about the free classes or the practice, call (312) 202-0300. Register for classes at

Dr. Weissbluth also has offices in Bucktown and South Loop.

Treating yourself has never been so active

by Mat Cohen

River North has become a haven for luxury workout studios.

From the Red Room of Barry’s Bootcamp to the cryotherapy at GOAT Climb & Cryo and the infrared heat of Yoga 2.0, the neighborhood has plenty of top-of-the-line fitness options to treat yourself to a new kind of workout in 2020.

Yoga 2.0 opened its doors in May of last year at 215 W. Ontario St. The loft-style studios, located on the second floor with artistic murals in the lobby and Limitless Nitro Brew on tap, has taken yoga to the next level.

“Considering the area, there isn’t really something like it that exists for yoga,” director of content and branding, and Lululemon ambassador Manny Garcia said. “People have different experiences, but there really isn’t one for yoga, and we wanted to make it.”

Yoga 2.0 found the best products to offer, including filling the room with triple-filtered humidity that’s cleaner than tap water.

“Every detail was thought out for the entire studio, from our rental mats being the best mats on the market, to the EO products in the bathrooms,” Garcia said. “And when it comes to the class experience you have to reserve the mat space, so that takes the pre-class stress away. Everything is done for you.”

GOAT Climb & Cryo, which opened in June, sits right across the street. The studio uses versaclimbers to provide a full-body workout, as well as Cryotherapy to offer innovative recovery sessions. Being so close allows the studios to work together.

“It builds a community,” Garcia said. “So many of our students take class with us, but might also go boxing, or pilates in the area. It’s such a fitness forward community, which makes our typical student outgoing and want to socialize.”

On Thursdays, GOAT members get to take class at 2.0 on discount and members from the yoga studio get Cryotherapy on discount.

Mayweather Boxing and Fitness, a new gym opening this month at 219 W. Hubbard, will be offering the gold standard of fitness just like its leader, boxing champion Floyd Mayweather. This is the first franchise in Chicago, but there are plans to open three more.

The space will have treadmills, rowers, strength equipment, as well as boxing equipment. There will even be virtual reality set up where you can be trained by Floyd himself, box against him, or partake in a number of different workouts.

A big reason the franchise wanted to be in River North was the mix of residential and business buildings in the area.

“It was a no-brainer for us to look at the neighborhood,” franchise owner Sara McSpedon said. “I think there’s (workout studios in the area) because the mix between the residential and the business, it’s very rare to find a neighborhood within downtown Chicago that has so much of both.”

If you’re in the area and you’d like some more options, you can also visit Studio Three, Shadowbox, Row House, Studio Lagree, Kick@55, Solidcore, CycleBar and many more.

Pamper your pet this winter

by Mat Cohen

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs need 30 minutes to two hours of exercise a day, depending on size and breed. Although they don’t say much about pampering, our best friends could use some luxury as well.

When it’s dark at 5 p.m. and below freezing in the middle of the Chicago winter, luxury pet services providers are there for your pooch.

When people get away to warmer places, dog resort Paradise 4 Paws has locations next to O’Hare and Midway. It offers massage therapy, a spa, grooming and 20,000 square feet of space.

There’s also A La Carte Services to spoil your furry friend. For example, its Taste of Paradise package offers peanut butter and frozen treats. The Let’s Play package includes an outdoor hike and the Heavenly Pampering package offers personal cuddle time.

Paradise 4 Paws works with Pooch Hotel, which has locations in the South Loop, Lincoln Park and West Loop. Morgan Fontes, general manager of the West Loop location, said demand for their services increases during the winter.

“We see a big increase for the majority of our services offered, but generally our highest margin is within our grooming services,” she said. “Most of our parents have more family visits over the winter due to (the holidays) and they all want clean dogs to have at home.”

Streeterville dog walker, Jennifer Jakubiak, has a strategy to brave the winter months.

“Proper gear,” she said. “I have down jackets, boots, everything you can possibly imagine to truck in this weather. It’s hard though.”

Jakubiak uses a dog-walking app called Rover and has four dogs to entertain everyday in the cold.

“It takes a lot to have a dog in the city just because it is a lot of responsibility,” she said. “But they love me and I love it.”

Dog owners who don’t have access to an extreme, cold-weather walker can use daycares, winter coats and booties, all feeding the pet industry. The American Pet Products Association estimated the industry to be worth $75.3 billion in 2019.

Dan Rubenstein, CEO and founder of Pups Pet Club, said the winter months are just as hard on dogs as on humans.

“If you’re cold, imagine what your dog is feeling,” he said. “You have layers of sweaters, and jackets, and gloves and your dog is completely exposed.”

Pups Pet Club, which opened a Streeterville location at 316 W. Illinois St. last spring, gets an influx of participants in the winter. Rubenstein has advice for dog owners.

“Use your apartment hallways without destroying them,” he said. “But ultimately, your dog still needs an hour and half of exercise per day.”

As winter lingers, the dogs coming into Pups Pet Club are about ready to burst, just like humans, Rubenstein said.

“In the winter months we kind of hibernate, so when we have an opportunity to get out to the gym or on vacation somewhere warm, we really explode with all this energy and enthusiasm.” 

City Pets, at 432 E. Grand Ave., offers grooming, daycare and winter products. Owner Lisa Harper sells Saltsox Winter Boots to help protect paws.

“We’ve tried all different brands and we like those because they’re durable and they stay on the best,” she said.

Beating the Blue Monday blues

by Doug Rapp

After a white Christmas, there may be a Blue Monday.

Blue Monday is the name given to what some  consider the most depressing day of the year—usually the third Monday  in January.

The idea originated with a Welsh academic as a marketing plan for a travel company, according to the  British newspaper Tele- graph. A formula involving debt, time past since  Christmas, winter weather and failed New Year’s resolutions add up to the infamous day in January. 

A Northwestern Medicine psychologist believes Blue Monday is a myth.

“There are so many other factors that contribute to depression,” said Dr. Stewart Shankman, chief of  psychology in the department of psychiatry and  behavioral sciences. “I don’t think there’s a certain day of the year that’s the most depressing day.”

Shankman allowed that  even without Blue Mon- day, January may be the  most depressing month of the year.

“What’s interesting is seasonal affective disorder (SAD, a seasonal type of depression), the onset of that actually tends to be in the beginning of winter,  more like October or November,” he said. “As the weather starts to get worse, that’s when you see the onset of SAD. It might hit its peak in January.”

Joyce Marter, a licensed psychotherapist who founded the multi-location counseling practice Urban Balance, agreed.

“More of the population is impacted by SAD in Chicago, due to the cold and gray weather during the winter months,” she said. “Poor weather can worsen any underlying mental health issue, such as anxiety and depression, and decrease motivation.”

Chicago’s brutal winters limit social and physical activity while possibly raising fattening food intake, according to Heloisa G. R. Roach, a psychotherapist at Urban Balance’s South Michigan  Avenue location.

“In January, we might also experience  stressors of post-holiday financial concerns and seasonal unemployment (which)  intensify these feelings,” Roach said.

Several mental health professionals said  even if Blue Monday isn’t an actual phenomenon, they do see more patients in the  first month of the year.

“January does tend to be a busy time for therapists,” said Alicia Hoffman, a licensed  clinical professional counselor with a private practice in New Eastside. 

“A lot of people put off starting therapy during the holidays and understandably wait until after. Some people are coming to fulfill a New Years resolution, and some people come because they had to spend a  lot of time with family which can be triggering and high stress.” 

There are several ways to fight winter de- pression according to healthcare providers.  Light exposure is essential, through limited sunlight or a sun lamp. A healthy diet with plenty of Vitamin D , while avoiding  excessive alcohol use, can help. Maintaining physical activity, whether indoors or  outdoors, is important, along with keeping social contact with friends and family and avoiding too much “hibernation” and screen time. 

Marter added that cultivating a positive, grateful attitude is also beneficial,  and, if possible, arrange a trip somewhere warm between January and April. She said research indicates the anticipation of a vacation could be more helpful than the trip itself. 

If none of these lift your spirits, professionals said it may be time to seek help.  Roach said if you experience a significant  loss of energy in the winter, it’s worth consulting a mental health professional to see  if you’re experiencing a seasonal episode of depression.

Shankman said anyone can have sad  moods, but if it impairs your work or family life, seek treatment.  

Realistic resolutions: Keep ‘new year, new you’ working

Gym managers say setting smaller goals along the way helps

by Mat Cohen

You’re not alone. According to  Strava, a social network for athletes, most people don’t keep their  New Year’s resolutions past Jan. 12. That’s when, just nearly two weeks after the start of the year, lack of motivation creeps out like a monster from under the bed. 

Roughly 55 percent of resolutions are health-related, according to The Personality and Social  Psychology Bulletin, so how can we avoid biting off more than we  can chew in early January?

Head trainer Kelsey Slotter from Planet Fitness at 240 E. Illinois St. has some ideas. 

Slotter says finding other people with like-minded goals can  keep people motivated.

“We offer free fitness training that is included with all our  memberships,” she said. “Utilize group training classes to provide the encouragement, energy and motivation you need to reach your goals during the holidays.”

Lakeshore Sport & Fitness assistant general manager Luis  Davila says having a solid foundation to grow upon and utilizing  a fitness assessment the gym includes for new members, is important for hitting goals.

“It’s important for people to  understand resources when setting fitness goals,” said Davila  who explained that setting smaller goals can help along the way. 

“One thing might not be the answer for the full year and you might  need to change it up,” he said. “I think that’s critical to understand when people are setting their goal.”

Slotter believes enjoying small victories on the path to reaching a  bigger goal is as important as celebrating the final accomplishment.  Planet Fitness has a pizza party planned for January to keep the pressures of a resolution at bay.

“Ten minutes on the treadmill can lift your mood and help you get through the day,” Slotter said. “Schedules this time of year may  not allow for a longer workout, which is okay, but just hit the gym when you can.”

For those with kids, Davila, a  father, says the family member- ship at LSF which includes free  childcare and a family play space is great for him.

“It’s hard for me to even come in and work out in the mornings,” he said. “Having that option during group classes, during your  regular routine, that is an absolutely huge help as far as breaking  a barrier to entry and a commitment to year-long fitness goals.” 

Both locations offer new year promotions on membership. For more information visit and  

Gluten free eats offered in the neighborhood

by Angela Gagnon

Maintaining a gluten free lifestyle is challenging,  and especially import- ant for those with celiac  disease, an autoimmune condition where ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine. 

Two community members living with celiac  disease shared tips on how to eat gluten free in the neighborhood for those looking to revamp their diets in 2020.

“I ask a lot of questions,” said Abigail Manville, who works in the New Eastside and was diagnosed celiac as a teenager. “I rely on the waitstaff and kitchen staff when dining out. I’ll call ahead and ask if they can accommodate me, and I avoid busy meal times so the chef can come out and talk to me.”

New Eastside resident Alexis Jones is also living with celiac disease. “

There is a lot of good (gluten-free) food out there. You just have to find it,” Jones said. “But being able to eat at restaurants and be part of the social scene is important, so I’ll talk to the chef and see if they can customize the menu or create something that works for me.” 

“So much of our socialization is built around  food,” Manville said, “so going gluten free can have a big impact on that.”

Jones said it’s hard to  share meals when eating out unless everyone agrees to go gluten free. Chicago’s downtown area has some options for those who can’t tolerate gluten. Whether avoiding gluten is a preference or an allergy, it’s possible to navigate the vast culinary landscape in downtown Chicago to meet your dietary needs.

“Brown Bag Seafood, 340 E. Randolph St., has food that is simple in terms of ingredients,”  Manville said. They also la- bel their gluten free menu  options on their website.

Jones said Brown Bag has a good gluten free clam chowder, which is hard to find.

 Eggy’s Diner, 333 E. Benton Place, offers gluten  free waffles and pancakes. “I can go there for  breakfast or dinner food,” Jones said.

Wildberry Cafe, 130 E. Randolph St., has a variety of gluten-free breakfast and lunch items, labeled “GF” to make it easier to order.

Jones and Manville also recommend Do-Rite Donuts, 50 W. Randolph St., for a sweet treat because they offer several gluten free varieties, prepared  using separate equipment from the regular  donuts. This is important for reducing cross  contamination.

Brightwok Kitchen in the Loop, 21 E. Adams St., “is an awesome dedicated gluten free build your own stir fry place,” Manville said. “And if I want a fancier meal when my family is in town, we will go to The Berghoff.” The German restaurant, 17 W. Adams St., has extreme handling procedures to make the gluten free dishes celiac-friendly.

Mariano’s grocery store, 333 E. Benton Place, has hundreds of gluten free products, which can make shopping for groceries a little easier.

“I’ve learned to make everything from scratch,” Jones said, “so shopping for gluten free ingredients is important. “Living in the city makes life easier for me. If I can eat at 10% of the places, that’s still a lot of options.”  

Local kids scale walls, shoot hoops as cold weather sets in

by Angela Gagnon

There are plenty of nearby options to help kids stay active as winter approaches.

Lakeshore Sports and Fitness (LSF), 211 N. Stetson Ave., is offering new children’s programming for members and nonmembers. Youth basketball classes, including group and private lessons, are available for kids aged 4 and up. Kids nine months and up can learn to swim, and older kids can hone their skills in the water with swimming lessons in the pool. LSF also has a seven-story indoor climbing wall with climbing lessons for kids aged 6 and up. 

“We want to get everyone excited about working out and being healthy,” said LSF General Manager Jarrett Brown. “We also want to build a sense of community for kids and families in the neighborhood and bring healthy habits home.” 

Besides organized classes, LSF also has a new kids playroom available to all members and their little ones during club hours. According to Brown, the play area provides a safe space for kids to run around and enjoy open play with others. Parents and caregivers are required to stay and supervise their children but it’s a good opportunity to socialize.

For more information on programming and offerings at LSF, contact Jarrett Brown at or call (312) 856-1111. Information is also available at

To keep kids’ climbing skills sharp during the winter months, there are two indoor climbing wall facilities in Chicago that offer youth programs. 

First Ascent, 108 N. State St., is on the fourth floor of Block 37 and offers age-based progressive programs for kids of all abilities. Their teachings provide a structured approach to help kids become skilled and confident climbers. 

Brooklyn Boulders, 100 S. Morgan St. in the West Loop, offers kids climbing classes, private youth coaching, climbing teams and Adventure Days on select school holidays. They seek to instill a strong sense of self-confidence, teach problem-solving skills and improve concentration, movement and spatial awareness. 

For those who don’t mind a little chill in the air, Maggie Daley Park’s ice skating ribbon will open mid-November. Kids can have fun exercising while skating on the unique and festive winding ice ribbon. Admission is free, and skate rental is available for a fee in the field house. 

“Parents can model healthy behavior at home,” Brown said. “Encourage kids to be active. Walk through the pedways together, dance, move around, do any type of sporting activity.” 

Or bundle up and head to Lakeshore East Park to run around in the field or enjoy the new playground equipment.

Chicago care services making house calls

By Elisa Shoenberger

Throughout Chicago there are doctors and other medical professionals who will go to residences. Instead of traveling to a doctor’s office or hospital, people can reach out to different services for non-emergency medical care in their home. 

Decades ago, it was common practice for doctors to travel to people’s homes with their recognizable black bag. Today, though the practice is not as common, doctors still bring medicines and IVs to treat patients in their own homes with many of these services even having specialists on staff, such as wound care specialists or technicians who bring along portable X-ray machines.

Locally, Chicago Express Doctors, founded by a few emergency room doctors, wanted to address the problem of crowded waiting rooms. One of the staff doctors, identified only as Dr. Allen, said the doctors thought, “Why don’t we do something more convenient?” and Chicago Express Doctors was born. Patients can call the service and have a doctor dispatched within an hour.

Another service, MD at Home, which has 9,000 unique patients each year, works largely with patients in their homes, typically with patients that have mobility or cognitive issues. MD at Home provides primary care services as well as helping coordinate other services as needed. Dovi Weill, Director of Business Development, said MD at Home is trying to solve a “gap of care” and prevent hospitalizations.  

The virtual medical service, Teledoc, allows people to speak with a licensed doctor or therapist via phone, web or mobile. Teledoc has more than 20 million members, or patients, in 130 countries.

Other medical groups provide at home nursing services as well as hospice assistance. Each service caters to different patient populations. For instance, Chicago Express Doctors works with travelers who don’t want to go to the ERs while away from home, and people with tight schedules. MD at Home works more with geriatric patients in their homes.

However, all the services are meant for non-emergency medical care. Even with former ER doctors on staff, Chicago Express Doctors advises people go to the ER when facing emergency situations.

Portion of Navy Pier Flyover to temporarily close

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

According to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will temporarily close the new section of the Navy Pier Flyover that opened last December on Sept. 3. 

The flyover will re-open in late September.

The closure is required in order to connect the completed segment to the second phase of the project, which is nearing completion. The closure was delayed until after Labor Day to avoid the height of biking season. 

During this closure, pedestrians and bicyclists will be directed with signage to use the old route of the Lakefront Trail at street level across Illinois and Grand on Lower Lake Shore Drive. 

When the trail reopens, the two portions of the trail will connect a temporary bridge to the east sidewalk of the Lake Shore Drive Bridge. A ramp from the Flyover down to Navy Pier and Illinois Street will also be open at that time.

Work will continue through the fall on Phase 3 of the Navy Pier Flyover. It involves retrofitting the existing LSD Bridge with a cantilever structure on the east side of the span that will allow for widening the trail to eliminate the existing bottlenecks users encounter. 

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