Five adventurous activities to try in Chicago

By Katy Nielsen

Spring is fast approaching, and if you’re tired of hibernating this winter, now is the time to get out and try an exciting new activity. Explore Chicago’s wide variety of adventure sports. Here is a guide to some of what Chicago has to offer.

1) Scuba dive

Chicago may not have an ocean, but there are locations throughout the city where you can get scuba certified. Take your education from the indoor pool to the lake and experience an open water dive in Lake Michigan at the end of your course. Local scuba dive courses allow you to get scuba certified before you take a vacation. The process takes a few sessions, so make sure you save enough time to complete your training.

“It’s a lot of fun to do,” said Jason Preker, manager of Underwater Safaris, 2950 N. Lincoln Ave. “Anywhere you go on vacation you can get some dives in. You can take special dive trips.”

Preker has scuba dived for 25 years and said he loves his job. The classes at Underwater Safaris are offered on week nights and weekends. Anyone can learn to scuba dive and survive in open water, according to Preker.

2) Take up Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a martial art that originated in Thailand. It has a long history that extends to the ancient battlefields of the Siamese army. The art form involves hand-to-hand combat, which includes a wide range of kicks, punches and body maneuvers.

The practice of Muay Thai is considered a highly aerobic form of martial arts. Speed, endurance, flexibility, balance and focus are learned through the sport. If you’re looking for a workout, this ancient technique might be a way to exercise your mind and body.

3) Go to stunt school

If you’ve ever seen an action movie, you may have wondered how those stunt doubles learn to jump out of airplanes, dodge trucks and run across the tops of

moving trains.

Asylum Stunts Training School, 4121 N. Ravenswood Ave., offers classes for actors and the general public to learn to perform stunts. The training facility is located at Skyline Gym, a full sports center with a gymnastics gym, spring floor, martial-arts school and weight room equipped with a high-fall rig. The gym offers walk-in classes for $20 and full memberships are available.

4) Learn to fly a plane

This is your chance to take the controls and pilot a plane. Chicago has several flight school locations, so take advantage of them.

“Absolutely anyone can learn to fly a plane,” said Liz Ganz, aviation services director at Windy City Flyers, 1098 S. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, Ill. “This is something everyone should do once in their life.”

Hourly classes are available to the public at a rate of $86 an hour. In the first lesson, students work one-on-one with an instructor on the ground and get to control the plane depending on their comfort level once they are in flight with an instructor.

5) Ski jump

It may be an hour outside of Chicago, but ski jumping offers a unique, adventurous experience and is available year-round. Norge Ski Club, 100 Ski Hill Road, Fox River Grove, Ill., has a 70-meter-high permanent porcelain ramp with a landing area that consists of plastic sheets. It is the oldest continuously operational ski club in the country. It operates all year,  so snow is not required.

Adult novices can ski on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Each lesson costs $15 and includes equipment (skis, poles, boots, bindings and a padded helmet).

It takes one lesson to try out the jumps. There are 10-, 20- and 40-meter high jumps at the facility, all of which must be mastered before the 70-meter giant slope can be attempted.