Ashley Pettit is one of the city’s top wellness experts—she started her career as a trainer at commercial gyms, moved on to lecturing for a corporate wellness company, and finally settled down to start her own business, a full-service, nutrition-meets-fitness hub called Wellness in Chicago.
Even with the success of WIC, Pettit is making big changes in 2012 by taking the brand to a national level (she has a book coming out and is currently Skyping nutrition sessions) without forgetting her local roots (her revamped site has a Chicago Wellness section). The newly dubbed Ashley Pettit Living takes all that was great about WIC and amps it up: members enjoy one-on-one training and nutrition advice to get their bodies—and more importantly, their lives—into shape. Here, she gives us some tips on dining in the city:
Michigan Avenue: Where is your favorite place for healthy eating in Chicago?
Ashley Pettit: Protein Bar. I’m so glad that it opened in the city because it’s something that Chicago hasn’t really had success with. A lot of health restaurants have opened up, then closed quickly over the past few years.
I was really glad that it stuck, it tastes good, and it's healthy. I can tell people to go there and they can order pretty much anything—I don’t have to say "order this, not that." I also love that people can go out and get great seafood in this city.
MA: When going out to a nice dinner, or maybe a charity function with a set menu, what are some guidelines to follow?
AP: It depends on the scenario. Many of my clients, if they know they're going to go out to dinner, will text me the name of the restaurant and I’ll look at the menu with them ahead of time.
If it’s last-minute or they’re going somewhere and don’t know what will be served, I go by the rule “everything in moderation.” You just have to be realistic and in control—you can eat anywhere, you just need to be willing to speak up and ask for your asparagus steamed rather than sauteed in butter. You can go out, have fun, and still be healthy.