Exercise in Milwaukee, WI
Given that their mission is focused on environmental and science education for urban youth, the Urban Ecology Center may not spring to mind as an ideal exercise hotspot. But you’d be missing out -- the center happily shares its incredible facility with community members. Take advantage of their offer to “loan out” their equipment and facilities to canoe the lagoon in nearby Washington park, scale their rock-wall in Riverside Park or simply enjoy a jog through their 15-acre woods. Don’t just save this as a summer exercise option, though. When snow falls, you can sign up for one of their winter survival or cross-country skiing classes.
What would a Midwest list of top exercise spots be without a cold-weather activity? Only the Pettit National Ice Center is a winter activity center you can enjoy all year long. As a U.S. Olympic Training Site, the Pettit operates as a not-for-profit corporation, which means you can skate or take lessons for a lot less than you might at other rinks. Sign up for classes in speed skating and figure skating, or show off what you already know during one of their public skating sessions. The Pettit also offers pick-up hockey and curling. If you don’t know how to skate and aren’t inclined to learn, you can still get in shape at the Pettit on their 443-meter walk/run track -- the only one in Wisconsin that has a “Zamboni Crossing” sign!
Maybe you’re a closet fan of Bruce Lee or the Karate Kid movie -- whatever the reason, if you want to learn martial arts in Milwaukee, then RoufusSport is the dojo for you. Considered by many to be the top mixed martial arts academy in all of Wisconsin, it can be a little intimidating walking inside for the first time. But there’s no need to tuck tail and run to the local YMCA for lessons, Roufus Sport has classes and trainers for all levels, from beginners to serious competitors. Take your pick from Muay Thai-based Roufus Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Submission Grappling, Mixed Martial Arts and Roufus KickFit!
Rock wall climbing experiences seem to be a dime a dozen these days with small walls showing up at gyms, arcades, state fairs, even birthday parties -- but those miniature rock walls won’t prepare you for hard-core climbing or bouldering on a real mountain. Since Wisconsin’s kinda short on mountains, you’d be out of luck if not for Adventure Rock. Their facilities boast more than 12,000 square feet of climbing walls set for any level of difficulty and trainers on hand to help you “learn the ropes.” If you’d rather get your workout sans rope, Adventure Rock has two bouldering caves and an incredible tread wall with climbing holds mounted on a vertical treadmill belt that’ll force you to think fast and find new holds quick.
Dretzka may look like a spaciously tame golf course in a sedate public park, but don’t let the greens fool you. This baby has water throughout 12 of its 18 holes, making it a challenge for even low-handicap golfers. The course is also a slicer’s nightmare, between the long roughs and narrow, sculpted fairways. It may take several rounds before you get the hang of this championship course, but you don’t have to be a well-equipped pro to give it a go. The city-run clubhouse rents out clubs, backs pull carts and golf carts for those that don’t own their own. And if golf isn’t your thing, you can always check out their 27-hole disc golf course, but you'll need to bring your own Frisbees!