Motivating, highly trained staff and spacious facilities complement Charter Fitness's battalion of cardio machines and strength-training equipment. Huge flat-screen TVs motivate gym-goers as they lift weights, stationary bikes, and their reflections in large mirrors. Seasoned personal trainers who all hold certifications or four-year degrees in their specialty guide members through an initial personal-training session, introducing clients to the best equipment for their fitness goals. After workouts, private showers or public water fountains sluice away sweat.
Shelton Matsey knows how to whip people into shape. As a former Air Defense officer for the U.S. Army, he motivated his soldiers to reach their peak levels of fitness, resulting in some of the highest physical training scores in his unit. He now helms a squad of certified personal trianers and dietitians to share their ample fitness expertise across the studio’s Chicago, McCook, and Tinley Park locations. The studio’s signature indoor boot-camp classes set muscle groups alight with cardio drills, leap-inducing plyometrics and strength-building exercises, such as heaving free weights in the form of balls, oversize tires, and lethargic moose. Cardio Core classes utilize high-intensity interval training to push patrons to burn fat, increase endurance, and strengthen cores during short workout sessions, and the non-contact kickboxing classes work multiple muscle groups as students strike, jab, and jump rope. Fit Code’s staff nutritionist also hosts cooking classes, which elucidate tips on healthier eating and nutritious food demonstrations.
After attending boot camps for a while, Maizah's motivation fizzled and she dropped the course. But refusing to accept defeat— even if it weren't his own—The Boot Camp Guy's cofounder, Chris Brown, gave her a call and made a case. He showed her some before-and-after shots of people she'd met at the sessions before she left—and was astounded by their transformations.
"That could have been me," she kept thinking. So she headed back to class determined that this time, it would be. Months later, she'd gone from a size 16/18 down to a size 12 with extra energy to boot.
As a former Marine with 14 years of professional fitness experience and a passion for helping people reach their goals, Chris knows that boot camp isn't about the stereotypical screaming drill sergeants depicted on TV. Instead, he and his trainers employ a realistic, no-scales and no-diets philosophy and focus on supplying their students with the motivation they need. They identify each student's fitness level within moments and calibrate their workouts accordingly, pitching the signature boot-camp classes at beginner, intermediate, and expert levels. This approach seeks to get students to their own desired level of "skinny", whether that's a size two, size 14, or any other goal. The trainers further outfit their boot-camp base model with nine different tracks—with one designed to shed weight—and total-body sessions up the ante with weights, resistance bands, and mat exercises to strengthen entire physiques rather than honing in on left pinkies. They also encourage students to eat the food they enjoy, and to be mindful of which nutrients their body needs to address deficiencies and restore balance.
The fitness menu unfurls a feast of other group classes. Cycle circuits combine intensive spinning with ab work on the turf and toning dumbbell drills. Cardio-kickboxing classes blend aerobics, boxing, and martial arts. All told, they offer more than 100 classes each month from their well-stocked studio, which the staff stocks with free weights, strength-training machines, exercise balls, and resistance bands.
Inspired by her own successful weight loss from calorie-burning Zumba classes, Marianne Rios-Valdivieso opened Mari’s Zumba Fitness. Today, Mari leads classes at two locations and hosts Zumba home parties, teaching quick-footed dance steps set to a soundtrack of pumping Latin tunes. During the energetic sessions, her students tone limbs and core muscles while training for upcoming dance-battles.
Evergreen Racquet & Fitness Club's 94,000-square-foot recreational facility is loaded with racquetball courts teamed up with a heated pool and fitness room. Clients reserve their slot and then step onto one of four racquetball courts for a round of racket-based ball swatting and sweat-band-absorbency testing. For a pre- or postgame workout, patrons can head into the fitness room to break a sweat on rows of treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes lined up before dumbbells and Cybex weight machines. Kids age 6 and younger enjoy a tots-only sprinkler area, and the 30’x50’ heated outdoor pool lends moisture to workouts and powdered energy drinks. To soothe muscles after a session of beefing, ligaments unwind in the whirlpools and dry-heat saunas in the locker rooms. Though not included in today's Groupon, patrons can partake in volleyball, basketball, and the batting cages and fielding area for an additional fee.