Exercise and beer are forming a fast friendship in Milwaukee, and burning calories is a good thing when you enjoy sipping a beer or two.
When I started writing this weekly column seven years ago, it didn’t take very long to realize that craft beer and calories go together like peanut butter and jelly. The double IPAs and big stouts I was sampling quickly added 15 pounds to my already less-than-svelte frame.
A consistent running program and a few more hours at the gym helped me lose the weight again (and I made sure to sample big beers more in moderation).
Exercise is important for all of us. And, regular activity can be a very good idea for those of us who enjoy craft beer from time to time. The good news is that the combination of beer and exercise is on the upswing, and there are plenty of ways to sweat before you indulge.
The Brewery Running Series made it to Milwaukee in 2017. The organization hosts casual 5-kilometer runs at local breweries and has a presence in eight states. The reward for the hard work is a beer at the finish line.
“We have some pretty awesome breweries in the Milwaukee and Madison area, many of which have opened in the last couple of years, that provide a fun, enjoyable social experience accompanied by delicious beer where people like to hang out,” said Christina Sprader of the Wisconsin Brewery Running Series. “I also believe many people enjoy exercising and know the healthy benefits that come along with getting out and doing a little activity. So to be able to combine the social experience of activity and tasting beer together means good things all around.”
The Brewery Running Series isn’t the only option for runners. Silver Circle Sports Events oversees the Beer Garden 5K Series, which visits nine area parks over the summer, and breweries like Explorium Brewpub (5300 S. 76th St.) host weekly running clubs. City Lights Brewing (2200 W. Mt. Vernon Ave.) and Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.) have teamed up for the Ultimate Beer Run in the fall. For that event, half of the runners start at City Lights, run to Third Space, have a beer, and then run back to City Lights for a second beer. The runners who start at Third Space follow a similar course.
Group Training and HIIT
Bodyfuel Inc. runs the programs at five Traveling Beer Gardens over the summer. Those who are up to the challenge of a 45-minute circuit workout can reward themselves with a Sprecher beer afterward.
“Any chance to get outdoors and change up our clients’ workout – uneven terrain, using hillsides, carrying picnic tables and having unlimited space to run, jump and exercise, makes these workouts different and requires our clients to engage different muscle groups,” said owner Eric Gramza, a certified strength and conditioning specialist. “Milwaukee likes to work hard and play hard, as do we at Bodyfuel Inc., so this format works. It has given groups of people — friends, coworkers, etc. — the chance to come together and work out, followed by some great social interaction and beer.”
Brew Fitness (408 W. Florida St.) makes the trip to the gym more enjoyable by combining a variety of group training options with craft beer. That’s right, after sweating through a group class like kickboxing or TRX, you can pour yourself a beer from the gym’s tap.
Yoga and Barre
Yoga and barre method workouts have been a popular morning addition at several local breweries for a couple of years. An hour of working your muscles is followed by working your palate with a tasty beer or two.
“Our yoga and barre events in the brewery regularly sell out, and we get rave reviews from people who do them,” said Andy Gehl, co-owner of Third Space. “People are more and more health conscious, so rather than just spending their weekend at the local bar or brewery they are looking for events like these where they can enjoy a few beers but also burn a few calories and have some fun. I also think the rise in popularity of activity or exercise-based beer drinking comes from the Millennial generation’s desire for a fun experience more than just a product. We strive to not only offer great beers but also fun experiences.”