Our team of curious writers work to help you live your best life. This crew is made up of busy professionals who are always looking for ways to maintain relationships and kill it at work, while still getting a workout in.
Jeana Anderson Cohen, Founder/CEO
Jeana Anderson Cohen is the founder and CEO of aSweatLife.com a destination for living your best life, with fitness as the catalyst. After graduating from University of Wisconsin with a degree in Journalism, she spent much of her career – before leaving agency life – creating and executing social media strategies for brands. aSweatLife fuses her experience and her passion for wellness. You can find Jeana – who’s certified as a personal trainer and is a Nike trainer – coaching group fitness classes and hosting aSweatLife’s monthly #Sweatworking events across Chicago.
Maggie Umberger, Director of Community and Content Innovation
Maggie moved to Chicago in 2014 from North Carolina, a proud Tar Heel at heart. She began her career in advertising but was equally passionate about her fitness endeavors, and ended up spending as much time instructing yoga and other types of fitness as much as in her advertising job. Now she works full-time with aSweatLife to continue to grow our community of amazing fellow fitness junkies in Chicago. And when she’s not running around with Jeana making #Sweatworking happen or instructing corporate and private yoga classes, you can find her leading bootcamp classes at ENRGi Fitness and vinyasa classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga and Yoga Six.
Kristen Geil, Contributing Editor
A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul- while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path so much that she decided to run a couple marathons. She’s also learned to love group fitness classes such as NTC, Barre, Tabata and Spinning (despite only learning how to ride a bicycle at the age of thirteen. It’s a touchy subject). In her spare time, Kristen likes to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, watch Kentucky basketball, write funny recaps of The Bachelor for her friends, and karaoke. By day, Kristen is a copywriter at Ignite USA.
Cindy Kuzma, Contributing Editor
Cindy Kuzma is a freelance health and fitness writer and a contributing editor at Runner’s World magazine. She grew up in Texas and moved to Chicago to earn her master’s in journalism at Northwestern University; once she saw the lakefront running trail, she decided to stay. She’s finished 19 marathons and also loves lifting heavy weights, yoga, live music and running to the Green City Market from Andersonville and taking the bus home with a ridiculous haul of fresh veggies. Cindy is the producer and co-host on aSweatLife’s podcast, #WeGotGoals. She’s written for Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Prevention, Shape and other publications as well—you can read her work at www.cindykuzma.com.
Christiana Basso, Photography/Branded Partnerships
Historically participating solely in Chicago lakefront activities: running, beach volleyball and yoga, Christiana realized (following a couple of fitness set-backs including one broken tailbone) that she needed to start taking her health more seriously. After making some initial excuses about not seeing crazy fad diet results (read: from quick success comes landslide fails) it was time to move on. Where was her physical strength? Then this happened…Christiana met Jeana one fine day at work; they became full-time friend-leagues. Initially, Christiana did not know that Jeana was a fitness guru but alas, she learns quickly. Though a bit of a late-bloomer in what she calls her path to grown-up fitness, Jeana’s ushered Christiana into a nomadic fitness journey that suits her just fine. After all Christiana was born to move…i.e. she cannot refrain from dancing. She also cannot refrain from new experiences, new workouts, new friends and capturing it all – by snapping photos. Of course when Jeana told Christiana about #SweatWorking she vied for the job of event photographer. It’s her behind the lens – so mug away!
Dani Kruger, Director of Outreach
As a proud New Englander at heart, Dani loves the outdoors and anything maple-flavored. After graduating from the University of Michigan and living for a brief time in DC, she moved to Chicago where she developed a passion for fitness and biking. Dani’s competitive nature is no secret, whether she’s trying to do yoga at all of the state capitol buildings (15 so far!) or seeing how far she can push herself in group fitness classes. By day, she nerds out behind the computer as a researcher and data analyst for a health care consulting firm, where she works to ensure all individuals have timely access to high quality health care services.
Cass Gunderson, Contributor
Cass hails from the southwest suburbs as a proud White Sox fan and a graduate of University of Illinois. By day, Cass is an associate at ParkerGale, a small private equity firm that buys profitable technology companies. Raised as the youngest in a family of older brothers, Cass grew up a tomboy and remains active in sports. To her mother’s satisfaction, Cass learned how to embrace her feminine side in college and has developed an interest for fitness activities that require spandex as opposed to knee-length basketball shorts. In her spare time, she runs a lot (sometimes for hours and hours) because it is cheaper than paying for real therapy. The rest of her spare time is spent convincing herself that pizza and donuts can be part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet. Cass is hoping to complete her fifth marathon in 2016 and can still be found on the basketball courts in Lincoln Park wearing knee-length basketball shorts.
Erin Dietsche, Contributor
Erin ran track from an early age, but it wasn’t until her parents “forced” her to join her high school cross country team that she fell in love with running. Since then, she’s become an avid runner and learned how to balance her running with her interest in eating chocolate. After graduating from the University of Iowa, Erin began her job as a writer for a healthcare publication. Outside of her job, she enjoys playwriting and checking out everything the Chicago theatre scene has to offer. When she’s not writing, reading or running, Erin likes listening to rap music and playing the piano.
Kelsey Schagemann, Contributor
Kelsey’s fitness journey started at age 14 when she moved from St. Louis, Mo., to Portland, Ore., also known as Nike headquarters and the home state of Steve Prefontaine. She was one of only two eighth grade girls on the cross country team and didn’t particularly like running in the rain, but she doggedly stuck with it. Running became Kelsey’s exercise of choice for the next several years as she logged countless miles on her high school and college cross country and track teams. Nowadays, you’re much more likely to find Kelsey in the spin studio (absolutely her favorite workout), lifting weights, perfecting tree pose or biking to/from DePaul University in Chicago, where she’s an associate editor. When she’s not working out, Kelsey is often trying new recipes, keeping the library in business, supporting her husband’s team (go Illini basketball!) and writing for publications such as Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Melo, Fiterazzi, PR Week, and, of course, aSweatLife. Kelsey holds a BA in English from Kenyon College and an MA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Tamara Rosin, Contributor
Tamara Rosin is a native Chicagoan but a Wisconsin Badger at heart with a degree in English literature and creative writing. In addition to her six years practicing yoga, Tamara loves biking, running outdoors and trying out different group workout classes. By day, Tamara is a writer/reporter for a healthcare publication. In her spare time, you can find her cooking, reading, or upside down in a headstand.
Kelly Magnus, Contributor
A Chicago-based PR Account Supervisor by day, Kelly Magnus has serious passion for keeping active. Kelly believes in making fitness fun by sweating with friends at events like #Sweatworking, or morning run meet-ups. Aside from her day job, she’s an age-group triathlete having completed sprint to half-iron distance races, and says a full ironman could be in her future. She’s also a CorePower Yoga Sculpt Instructor, teaching at various studios in Chicago throughout the week. Kelly is from Wisconsin and attended the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She’s excited to share her fitness experiences with aSweatLife readers.
Catherine Toupin, Contributor
Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Catherine is a proud graduate of two great Midwestern schools: the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Notre Dame. After receiving a degree in English and Communication, Catherine chose to take a risk and teach teenagers in Florabama for two years. Living in a location with warm weather year-round rekindled Catherine’s love of long outdoor runs (and of relaxing on a beach). Catherine has since taken a Meeting Planning job in Chicago, and though the views are slightly different, she still enjoys runs along the lake shore path and being outdoors as much as possible.
Jamie Bacigalupo, Contributor
Having first traveled from her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to live in Quito, Ecuador, she decided to give the East a run and is now a resident of Shenzhen, China. She earned her degree in Communication Arts/Literature and Communication and Secondary Education from Gustavus Adolphus College and is enthusiastically exploring Asia by teaching abroad. She digs hanging out with her students by weekday, and relishes finding new restaurants to eat authentic Chinese food and finding new hiking paths on the weekends. In addition to sticking her nose in a book to recover from an intense workday, Jamie also loves exploring all manner of flavors in the kitchen, especially when she is whipping up some recipes for her friends and family.
Rachel Mitz, Contributor
The self-diagnosed work-out-a-holic, Rachel Mitz can be found all around Chicago, staying fit when she isn’t crunching numbers as a director of corporate finance for a commercial real estate company. Chicago area bred and University of Illinois alum, Rachel works hard and plays hard so her daily workouts are her chance to connect with her mind and body. Rachel keeps it exciting by creating up a lineup of both fun and challenging morning workouts from personal training sessions, to boot camps, to spin classes or runs along the lake front (she just completed her first marathon in October). For fun, you can find Rachel trying new restaurants, traveling, volunteering with her favorite middle schoolers at San Miguel or enjoying a glass of red wine and fro-yo.
Lori Wilson, Contributor
After moving away from her hometown, just outside of Detroit, Lori has done her best to stay out of her former constantly-working-to-make-ends-meet rut. Having lived in Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver, Lori began her writing career covering soap operas. While she will always keep track of the latest returns from the dead on “General Hospital,” she now focuses her writing on fun ways to stay happy, fit and out of the house. Recent adventures have led to her love of indoor cycling, getting pampered at the spa and her new favorite city New Orleans. A Midwestern girl at heart, Lori is back in Chicago, where she continues her quest to top the thrill she felt her first time on the trapeze.
Mananya Komorowski, Contributor
Mananya spends her days helping brands do social media and talk to bloggers. When not in the office, Mananya manages an in-home cooking service where she teaches Thai Cooking to local Chicagoans. You can also find her on Twitter, @Mananya, or on Instagram, @Stananya, where you’ll see her food photos and rants about what she’s just eaten or … even better, cooked.
Emily Hutchins, Contributor
For over 15 years, Emily has worked with various clients of all walks of life, and is rewarded in watching clients improve their lives through something as powerful as fitness. As Owner of On Your Mark Coaching + Training, Emily’s philosophy is quite simple, train hard, but train smart. Your body is built on a foundation of 4 principals; function, endurance, athleticism and recovery. With these 4 principals, you are building a lifetime of increased performance whether you are striving to lose those last couple pounds or completing your 100th Ironman. As a Nike Master Trainer and Nike+ Run Coach, Emily serves as a spokesperson for the brand, develops athletic content, leads Chicago area Nike classes and runs, makes personal appearances on behalf of the brand and leads Nike fitness summits worldwide.
Kevin Martin, Contributor
Like most boys growing up in the southwest neighborhoods of Chicago during the height of Michael Jordan’s excellence, Kevin’s dream was to always play in the NBA. He collected every imaginable Chicago Bulls keepsake and named his dog B.J. Armstrong. Then MJ retired (again), the Bulls got bad, and the realities of him being a world-class athlete came and went. A Chicago lifer, Kevin attended Loyola University Chicago, graduating with a B.A. in Communication and B.B.A. in Marketing. As a diehard sports fan and washed-up high school athlete, he took solace covering others’ athletic achievements as sports editor of Loyola’s weekly student publication. Currently, Kevin resides in the Gold Coast and works in River North as a serial entrepreneur and investor specializing in program planning and media outreach for tech startups. In 2010 he started running to combat his rapidly waning metabolism and completed the Chicago Marathon. He swears one day he’ll do another (even though the first nearly killed him) to take back the family PR from his kid sister. When he’s not watching a sporting event, you can typically find him negating workouts by smashing pizza or enjoying a tasty beverage at his favorite local watering hole.
Mary Beard Mack, Contributor
Mary is a Central Illinois native currently living in St. Louis with Nelly, the Cardinals and a Cubs fan she claims as her husband. At the University of Illinois she earned her B.S. in news-editorial journalism and currently serves as editor and community manager for a publication focused on startups and entrepreneurs in STL. Growing up, she attempted most team sports but settled into dancing at her studio, falling in love with the discipline, music and feathered costumes (so yes, she’s seen every episode of Dance Moms). In her free time she loves bopping around the city trying out new restaurants, obsessing over award show season and laying around devouring whole books at once. To balance out these somewhat gluttonous hobbies, she’s also developed a love of group fitness classes favoring barre, TRX, cycling, and yoga.
Lauren Lehocky, Contributor
Lauren grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she earned her degree in Health Communication. She is a NASM-certified personal trainer, blogger, and Community Manager at lululemon athletica on Rush Street. When she isn’t writing about her latest restaurant adventures on i had a big lunch you can catch her teaching HIIT classes at Sweat Chicago. She loves to run along the Lakefront, explore the different neighborhoods in Chicago, and meet up with The November Project on Friday mornings for a killer sunrise workout at The Bean.
Emily Luzzo, Contributor
A native Chicagoan, Emily has been a running enthusiast since the day she could tie her shoes. Raised as the oldest and only girl of four, Emily grew up in an active energetic household where “playing with the boys” was the norm. After hailing to the orange and blue at her alma mater, Illinois, Emily combined her passion for sports with health and wellness and joined the team that produces endurance events, one of which being the Chicago Marathon. By day, she works to elevate the endurance platform by collaborating with brands to provide a transcendent experience for athletes. When she is not running or planning races, you can find her biking on the lakefront path, cooking up a new recipe in the kitchen or planning her next travel adventure.
Emily Baseman, Contributor
Emily Baseman considers herself a fitness generalist. A firm believer that wellness is found by giving your body what it deserves, she is dedicated to working out regularly, drinking lots of water, and eating plenty of vegetables. From barre to HIIT to yoga to cycling, Emily loves to work up a sweat running around to take in a little bit of everything. She is a midwestern transplant to Washington, DC, currently working, cooking, and exploring the fitness scene in our nation’s capital. By day, Emily helps social impact brands and nonprofits use social media to tell their philanthropic stories. She’s obsessed with her dog, Bascom, red wine, and cheese of all kinds.
Catherine Borkowski, Contributor
Catherine Borkowski, RD, LDN is a Chicago-based Registered Dietitian, yoga lover and nutrition nerd. As a self-proclaimed “flexitarian”, Catherine’s nutrition philosophy promotes living a plant-based powered life, practicing moderation, not deprivation, and cultivating a healthy relationship with food. Catherine has focused much of her career working in corporate wellness and behavior change, helping others develop healthy, sustainable lifestyle changes. Outside of her passion for yoga, Catherine loves to bike, tone with Pilates, and dance it up in cardio hip hop.
Michelle Grano, Contributor
Growing up in the small town of Berwyn, IL, Michelle spent most of her youth playing sports and basically just being sweaty all the time. But she didn’t really get into working out until after college, when she noticed all those late night pizzas and Dairy Queen trips had finally caught up to her. She started her fitness journey back at home in her parents’ living room with workout DVDs like Kettle Worx and anything Jillian Michaels. Eventually she worked up the courage to join a gym, where she discovered her love of group fitness classes. And even though you won’t find her chowing down on pizza anymore, she almost always orders dessert, and has never met a french fry she didn’t like. When she’s not working out, eating or watching Harry Potter for the millionth time, she’s working as a copywriter at Energy BBDO.
Ashley Aranha, Contributor
Ashley Aranha has been an active advocate of weight lifting, taco eating, city living and not running for as long as she can remember. A lifelong Notre Dame fan, she graduated from Saint Mary’s College in 2012 with a degree in Elementary Education. By day, you can find her organizing objects by color, singing, chanting, dancing around, and reading with her kindergarten class. After the school bell rings, well, not much changes. She continues to do all that. But she also thoroughly enjoys conversing and interacting with adults at group fitness classes and #Sweatworking events. Ashley was born and raised in the suburbs and moved to the city 4 years ago. She never plans to leave… unless she is able to find a beach house on a mountain in a major industrial city on a private island. Then she just might.
Amanda Lauren, Contributor
Originally from New York City, Amanda Lauren currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two dogs Milo and Lulu. Rarely seen in an actual gym, she is a group fitness enthusiast who enjoys Pilates (both East Coast and West Coast styles), spin, barre, power plates, yoga and her newest obsession, versa climbing. She will try any group fitness class at least once. When Amanda isn’t working out or trying to find the perfect pair of pink sneakers, she blogs about her adventures in fitness as well as fashion, lifestyle and beauty on ItsAmandaLauren.com.