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Get a crazy-intense work out by heading to SPIRE fitness for its cycling class.
Get a crazy-intense work out by heading to SPIRE fitness for its cycling class. (Photo: Robyn Vining Photography)

My first spin through a SPIRE Fitness spin class

My alarm was screeching at 5 a.m., and despite desperately wanting to roll over and keep sleeping, after much deliberation, I finally got myself out of bed and rode my bike to SPIRE Fitness, located at 102 N. Water St., with no idea what to expect when I got there.

I walked in ready for the class. I went to the front desk and got asked what my shoe size was. They handed met these shoes with Velcro on them, then they had me go straight to the room. The instructor clipped my shoes into the pedals – yes, I did say clipped me in – and the class began.

45 minutes later, I walked out experiencing something like nothing I had before. It was very high energy and, honestly, kind of insane. Many thoughts ran through my head, but here are the ones that you too might have during a SPIRE Fitness cycling class:

Why do I have these shoes? And dear God, why do you have to be strapped in?

Before you even start the workout, you get your shoes clipped into the pedals of your bike, and for a first-timer, you can’t help but be freaked out by what you might possibly have to do to need to have your shoes clipped in. But once you've done the class for a while, you understand that you have to be clipped in or you will fall right off the bike. You have to do exercises that require to get off your seat and stand on your pedals. Meanwhile, you're cycling with such speed that you can easily just wipe out if you didn't have the crazy shoes on. 

This song is awesome, but why must it be so long?

The spin class plays such fun, upbeat songs that you will either know and love or not know and grow to love anyways. For instance, we got to exercise to "Hot in Here" by Nelly, an obviously amazing throwback tune that would completely pumped me up, kept me motivated and at least somewhat helped me forget that I was slowly dying from all the exercise. However, each type of exercise lasts for one song, making you hope and pray for when the song will mercifully end so you can finally catc…

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Icelandic band Kaleo hit the Turner Hall Ballroom stage Wednesday night.
Icelandic band Kaleo hit the Turner Hall Ballroom stage Wednesday night. (Photo: Pabst Theater Group)

Icelandic band Kaleo brings soaring sounds to the Turner Hall stage

Named after the Hawaiian word for "the sound," the Icelandic genre-limboing rock 'n' roll/jazz/blues group Kaleo brought more than just a single sound to Milwaukee. Kaleo brought many – as well as many fans for a band that may be an unknown to some.

The initial cheering died down after a moment as the four members of the Icelandic band took the stage at Turner Hall Ballroom for the first time on Wednesday night. The four were quiet as they seemingly tuned their instruments, then suddenly concerted into the opening riffs of popular track "Can’t Go On Without You." The crowd stood in awe, eyes fixed and jaws silently dropped, as lead singer and guitarist JJ Julius Son aptly whistled the first few notes. As the first words dripped from his mouth, his voice was thick, velvety and loaded with heartfelt talent.

The musical expertise did not stop there. As the show waged on in the rustic ballroom, the walls trembled with bassist Danny Jones’ ardent strums. Chills seeped down the audience's collective back as riffs left the strings of Rubin Pollock’s guitar as he played "All the Pretty Girls" beside Julius Son’s falsetto ballad and the crowd’s hushed singing along.

With few conversational interludes, it was clear that Kaleo aimed to showcase its pure and weighty music. The band played a number of slower, lamenting songs near the beginning of the show, while the crowd swayed and whispered along to the near-country jazz set list. All four artists were dressed modestly, sporting simple t-shirts and jeans – except, of course, drummer David Antonsson Crivello, who wore a purple tiger robe until he realized that Milwaukee is not quite as chilly as Iceland.

The robe really came off when the group decided to take it up a notch, showing off its nearly flawless rock and roll thunder. The audience screamed and bounced up and down as they heard the opening abrupt chords to "No Good." What seemed at first to be a shy, reserved group of musicians colorfully burst into …

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Take a bike ride on Milwaukee's Oak Leaf Trail to head Downtown or to stop at one of the many different neighborhoods along the way.
Take a bike ride on Milwaukee's Oak Leaf Trail to head Downtown or to stop at one of the many different neighborhoods along the way.

People you'll meet on Oak Leaf Trail

Milwaukee’s 118-mile Oak Leaf Trail winds throughout the county, used every day by many people, whether to commute, to get exercise or just to have fun. Parts of the trail that were once old railroad rights of way are now paved and turned into the trail one walks today.

Now, however, instead of trains going by, you will see people running, walking, biking or strolling with a furry friend.

While taking a recent bike ride through the trail, I decided to stop and chat with the people that use Oak Leaf and get a sense of the people you can potentially encounter there on a daily basis. Each person I chatted with had a different experience with the trail and different reasons why they like it. Here they are:

The innovators

I was intrigued by a group of kids, led by two adults, using the brick-lined wall holding up a bridge to rock climb. It was a unique use of the Oak Leaf Trail. As it turned out, the two girls were Riverwest Outdoor Educational Adventure Summer camp counselors, helping the kids through a new outdoor adventure. And this is just one of the many activities they do with the kids.

"We take kids canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, and biking through the city of Milwaukee," explained Melissa Markes (right). She chose this job to combine her love for kids and for the outdoors. Her co-counselor, Kaelie Blake, is in her first year of this job and loves it as well because she enjoys having fun with the children and trying new things.

The Oak Leaf Trail helps them get the kids where they need to be without worrying about traffic and the busy roads getting in the way. But most importantly, the trail allows for a dose of outdoor fun for the children, even while living in the city.

The commuter

The long span of the trail makes it easy for people to get from one place to the next. The trail goes from Downtown Milwaukee, through the East Side and out to some of the suburbs. Lisa Lyons likes the convenience of the trail. She lives in Whitefish Bay,…

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Take a break from your busy life and head to the Kettle Moraine.
Take a break from your busy life and head to the Kettle Moraine.
The Scuppernong Trail is located about 45 minutes out of Milwaukee, near the town of Eagle.
The Scuppernong Trail is located about 45 minutes out of Milwaukee, near the town of Eagle.
After a long day of walking trails, a swim serves as the ultimate refreshment.
After a long day of walking trails, a swim serves as the ultimate refreshment.

Connect with nature at the Kettle Moraine Forest

Explore the best Milwaukee has to offer with VISITMilwaukee and OnMilwaukee this summer by "Urban Exploring." We'll be sharing parks to hike, walls to climb, rivers to paddle, trails to bike and so much more. Be a tourist in your own town and experience it with us!

Escape the busy city for the lush forests and solace of Northern Wisconsin – but without the long drive – when you travel to the Kettle Moraine Forest. There’s a vast habitat to explore given that the southern unit of the forest spans 30 miles, from Dousman Village to Whitewater. The pine and hardwood forests are overflowing with hills formed by glaciers, kettles, lakes and prairie restoration sites.

The Kettle Moraine gets its name from the various kettles, or depressions in the Earth, caused by glaciers numerous years prior. These kettles range from petite ponds to large lakes.

There are more than 160 miles worth of numerous diverse trails to challenge everyone for the casual to experienced hiker. Many trails permit horses, bikes, snowshoeing, snowmobiles and cross country skiing.

One of these trails is Scuppernong, which is located about 45 minutes from Milwaukee in Dousman Count near the town of Eagle. Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of the town since its population is just under 2,000 people.  

When you begin the trail, you’ll notice different colors marked on the trees. The different colors represent different trails throughout the park that vary in difficulty and distance. When starting, the trail you’re surrounded by bright green trees, bushes and shrubbery.

The trail is teeming with vegetation which almost seems to rival a rain forest in terms of the color and quantity of the plants. The walk is so incredibly peaceful that you can even hear the trees sway back and forth after a gust of wind blows past. This quiet and serene trail is perfect for when you just want to get away.

At the trailhead of Scuppernong, you can also access the Ice Age National Scenic Trail w…

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