Preps star finds new zest on the beach
• To learn more about Beach Body Fitness, visit www.winpark.org.
• View Leonard’s interview and webisode at Winnetka.Suntimes.com.
Updated: November 7, 2012 12:16PM
WINNETKA — Dana Leonard knew she had a slam-dunk of an idea when she pitched the Winnetka Park District about a Beach Body Fitness class at Winnetka Tower Road Beach.
“I am just blessed that I get to come down here every day to see this beautiful place,” said Leonard, who was raised in Glenview and now lives in Winnetka. She compared this Midwest shoreline to her former home in California.
“It’s almost like we’re on the Caribbean right here in Chicago.”
So Leonard put the ball in the court of John Muno, Winnetka Park District superintendent of recreation.
Since May 21, Beach Body Fitness has given Leonard perpetual Lake Michigan sunrises to accompany her workout.
“You’re in a special, special place,” she said, of the rising sun. “Beach Body Fitness has given me an opportunity to really see that. It definitely puts a smile on your face. I have this new zest for working out.”
Coming up with a swish comes naturally to Leonard. Give credit to her mother Pam, who still resides in Glenview with her husband Mike, and to Dana’s father, John Leonard of Northfield and his wife Stacey.
John Leonard, Glenbrook North High School associate dean of students, was a GBN assistant basketball coach. The three Leonard children, Jay, Dana and Brett, were basically raised on North Shore courts, learning from the best of the best.
Chicago Bulls? Remember the Deerfield Multiplex?
“I actually grew up going to practices, games, sitting on the bench as a ball girl,” said Leonard, recalling Chicago Bulls practices at the Deerfield Multiplex. “So basketball became, you know, my thing.
“And with this great history around here and the great coaches, growing up, I got to play with B.J. Armstrong from the Bulls.”
The ball girl grew up, and on her way to becoming a 1997 Glenbrook South High School graduate, she won a state championship.”
“I got very lucky as a freshman, hit the winning shot to win the state championship, which is their first state championship, you know, in the history of the school,” she said.
With five seconds left in the game, the then-15-year-old rookie point guard nailed a clinching three-pointer. Beating the two-time defending class AA champion Marshall High School “just kind of put me on the map,” she said.
“I kept playing,” said Leonard, who received a full scholarship to Northwestern (University in Evanston).
After college, she taught camps, clinics, leagues and coached.
“And I kind of took a little hiatus and moved out to California, fell in love with working out on the beach in Santa Monica. And when I moved back here, I was like, ‘What better than Beach Body Fitness on Tower Beach?’ ”