fbpx

Trending Now: Backgammon — Fun and Then Some!

If you’re feeling sheepish about using your “free time” to settle into the card room at Optima Verdana® with a friend, relative or neighbor — and a backgammon board between the two of you — worry no more. You are about to engage in a high-value activity with a game that is a perfect combination of relaxation and stimulation.

That’s because backgammon, one one of the most classic board games, is a treasure trove that offers you far more than entertainment.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to discover its delights, backgammon is a two-player game. It uses a board with a series of narrow color-coded wedges and two sets of 15-pieces, one for each player.There is also a pair of dice and a cube used for betting, called a doubling cube. The ancestors of backgammon date back nearly 5,000 years to Mesopotamia and Persia; the earliest record of backgammon itself dates to 17th century England, where it descended from an earlier game called Irish.

Backgammon involves plenty of strategy, coupled with the luck related to rolling the dice at the beginning of each player’s move. With each roll of the dice, you must choose from numerous options for moving your pieces, while anticipating possible counter-moves by your opponent. And when you get the doubling cube involved, you raise the stakes during a game. What fun!

And the good times don’t stop there. Backgammon has the potential to boost memory and cognition abilities, regardless of your age, since the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are given a workout. These areas are responsible for memory formation and complex thought processes. And with the exercise your brain gets through playing, you’ll also decrease the risk of cognitive diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

Optima Lakeview’s game room, Chef’s kitchen and dining area

Playing backgammon is fun and confidence-building. When your opponent pulls ahead or you roll double sixes three times in a row, you can’t help but crack a smile. And that means your endorphins are flowing and your blood pressure decreases — as you experience a moment of pure pleasure — all the while enjoying the company of another person. If you are able to organize regular sessions of backgammon with a group of people, imagine how good it can feel to sharpen your skills and strengthen your relationships.

It’s somewhat of a cliché to say that games are for all ages. But a simple truth about backgammon is that it is a fantastic way to teach math and probability concepts to children, while providing a forum for children and adults to relate on a level playing field. Literally.

Backgammon boards/sets come in all shapes and sizes. Choose the one best suited for you and your comrades and head up to the Optima Verdana® game room!

Best Plants for Small Urban Gardens

As the weather warms up, you might be inspired to add some greenery to your home or apartment. For those living in multi-family residences — such as our own Optima residents — that means finding the right plants to accommodate your space. Whether you want to cultivate an indoor forest or try planting outdoors, here are the best plants for small urban gardens.

Indoor Options

For indoor gardening, you should check out your light exposure before you buy any plants. Working with south-facing windows is drastically different than north-facing windows, and knowing how much light your home gets is crucial to cultivating happy plants. At Optima, our units always feature floor-to-ceiling windows – perfect for all exposures and for creating the ideal indoor growing environment.

Snake plants, bamboo plants, types of pothos and spider plants can all thrive in indirect light. For sunnier spots, try options like aloe vera, jade plants, succulents and types of cacti. Many of these plants are also low-maintenance when it comes to watering. 

Outdoor Options

Stoops, balconies, patios, decks and rooftops all have the potential to be a home for a small garden, if you can master container gardening. Year-round foliage will depend on your environment, but for seasonal summer greenery, many herbs and vegetables double as decor and a source of fresh food. Peppers, salad greens, tomatoes and green onions are easy to grow in containers or pots, as are most herbs.  

Plants are a huge part of our design process at Optima, through our vertical landscaping systems, green space and sustainability initiatives. Bringing the outdoors in can help make any space more vibrant, more joyful and more green; we hope you feel inspired to add some plants to your own urban garden this spring!

The Health Benefits of Squash

Across all of our projects, our amenity spaces are designed to create fun, engaging ways for our residents to stay active. A few multi-family residences across our Optima portfolio, including Optima Kierland and Optima Signature, are home to racquetball and squash courts, providing a dynamic way to get active for a game of one — or both! — of the two sports. Whether you’re a life-long player or interested in picking up a racket for the first time, here are just a few of the health benefits of squash (or racquetball):

Improving Agility

Squash requires you to be light and quick on your feet to move randomly across the court. Unlike other sports, the energy and speed needed to play comes in short bursts rather than longer endurance. Covering distances within a short amount of time and striking the ball accurately means you’re training your body and brain to act quickly.  

Improving Bone Health

Squash is a relatively low-impact sport, but it can still help build bone density and strength. Playing squash has been shown to help maximize bone mass before the age of 30 and afterwards help to slow down bone loss, not to mention it decreases the risk of osteoporosis. 

Improving Balance

Looking for a balance-oriented workout that isn’t yoga? Playing squash certainly helps your coordination skills, but it also means your whole body has to work in tandem. To keep up with the sudden directional changes of the ball, you need control over your own balance and stability. 

Improving Mental Health

Arguably one of the best health benefits of squash is the effect on your mood and mentality. Like most exercise, squash boosts your brain power, your energy levels and your endorphins. Devoting time to play can bring discipline into your routine, not to mention the added social aspect of playing with friends. 

When we design our amenities, our intention is always to provide a welcoming, exciting space for people to connect with their sense of well-being — and our squash courts do just that.

Indoor Basketball at Optima

As part of our commitment to creating healthy and happy communities, we’re constantly looking for inventive ways to keep our residents entertained, engaged and on the move. In all of our apartment communities, indoor basketball courts help achieve those goals. Integrated into our extensive amenity floors, indoor basketball at Optima helps residents stay healthy while having fun. 

Our properties across Illinois and Arizona house their own courts, including 7180 Optima Kierland, Optima Kierland Apartments, Optima Signature, Optima Sonoran Village and Optima Camelview. Basketball courts will also be part of the 40,000 square feet of amenity spaces at our latest project, Optima Lakeview. Each court is designed to seamlessly flow with the Modernist design of all of our spaces. And to accommodate the interests of our residents, many courts are now being striped for pickleball use. Along with being an in-demand recreational amenity, basketball has quite a few health benefits for those interested in playing.

Indoor Basketball Court at Optima Signature
Indoor Basketball Court at Optima Signature

Although many may have played as kids, there are plenty of perks to getting into basketball as an adult. Playing basketball requires agility, strength and stamina, so it naturally builds muscular endurance and healthy bones. It also helps improve balance and coordination and like many other regular physical activities, it boosts heart health. As far as mental benefits, engaging in physical activity releases endorphins and can be a big mood booster, whether you’re playing a quick game or you’re on the court for a few hours.

Our favorite benefit of basketball might have to be the team spirit and communications needed to play the game. We hope that all of our amenity spaces — our indoor courts included — make space for camaraderie and community, especially during a time when many are craving them. From new novices to life-long players, indoor basketball at Optima provides a welcomed escape to relax, play and stay active for our residents.

The Health Benefits of Swimming

We enjoy creating communities with amenities to support a well-rounded, vibrant lifestyle. Many of our properties, including Optima Kierland, Optima Sonoran Village, Optima Signature, and the in-development Optima Lakeview include swimming pools as part of our impressive amenity stack. Spending time swimming is the perfect leisurely activity as well as a great fitness option with a wide-ranging array of health benefits. Here are just a few:

Full Body Workout

Water is 800 times more dense than air, and spending 30 minutes in a pool is actually worth the equivalent of 45 minutes doing a similar workout on land. Because of this, swimming is an intensive form of fitness that works your entire body. The activity, which engages arms, legs and core all at once, has a head-to-toe impact that leads to muscle toning, endurance building and strength building. 

Lifetime Health Boost

In addition to the external impact, swimming does great things for your internal and overall health. It improves the cardiovascular system, leading to a stronger heart, lungs and circulatory system. This also helps guard against heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as helping to control blood pressure and blood sugar.

Great For Injuries

Because swimming is such a low-impact sport, it’s the perfect fitness option for those experiencing arthritis, injuries or disabilities. While water provides enough resistance against muscles for an effective workout, your buoyancy provides support you won’t find on land. Experts even say that swimming can help reduce pain and improve recovery from injuries.

Rooftop sky deck pool at the 7140 tower at Optima Kierland Apartments
Rooftop sky deck pool at the 7140 tower at Optima Kierland Apartments

Positive Mental Impact

Research shows that those who swim regularly experience better sleep at night. In addition to being a restful activity, swimming also serves to boost your mood. By exercising, your body is releasing endorphins and increasing your metabolic rate, which leads to both improved mood levels and improved energy levels. 

Whether you’re looking for a regular fitness regimen, recovering for an injury or even looking for a pregnancy-safe workout routine, swimming is a great and healthy option for everyone.

Bocce 101

At Optima, we don’t just build homes, we build communities — that’s because fostering a sense of connection is an integral part of our process, and an integral part of the resident experience. We aim to create spaces where people can meet, play and entertain, whether that’s with other residents of the building or with their friends and family (or a mix of both). And that’s why at our Chicago community, Optima Signature, we added bocce ball courts to one of our four dedicated amenity floors. The highly social and engaging sport not only provides our residents with competitive fun, but it’s an occasion to connect over, too.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. has seen an explosion of “social bocce” playing across the country. Those seeking exciting new ways to spend time with family and friends have flocked to the casual sport now being played at restaurants, bars and park districts all over. But perhaps what attracts people to the sport even more is its accessibility. Bocce ball is an incredibly beginner-friendly game, and bocce courts are also easy to maintain for the sites that host them.

Bocce is played on courts made of soil or asphalt, typically up to 90 feet long and between 8 and 13 feet wide. Games are played between two opposing players or teams of 2-4, where players “bowl” bocce balls down the court and attempt to get their ball closest to the “jack.” Bocce balls are hefty, spherical balls made from wood, metal, baked clay or plastic. Players/teams receive one point for each ball that is closest to the jack, with most games ending around 7-13 points scored. Considering the space needed while playing, it’s also a great game for social distancing. 

The bocce ball court at Optima Signature occupies an open, inviting space between other amenities on the seventh and eighth floors. These dedicated amenity floors, designed to be a gathering space for residents, include features like a putting green, golf simulator, WELLBEATS cycling studio, indoor basketball court and an open lounge area with Egg chairs, perfect for spectators of the game. Bocce ball is a natural fit in the mix, cultivating a lively environment where residents can come together over fun, shared activities.

person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL





    Acceptable file types: *.pdf | *.txt | *.doc, max-size: 2Mb