Throughout his wrestling career, Bryan Harney got his hands on some notable awards–he earned Illinois's Athlete of the Year commendation in 2003 and went on to compete at Michigan State University. As the founder of Southside Knockout, he shares his expertise with other aspiring fighters. He assembled a staff of wrestlers, boxers, muay thai fighters, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu experts—including former MMA professional Jay Estrada—to offer a comprehensive combative education to his gym's members. Outside of martial arts courses, attendees devour calories in speed- and strength-conditioning courses, swinging kettlebells, or outrunning the gym's boxing kangaroo.
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.
At House of Phitness & Nutrition, certified trainers lead group and personal training sessions. Athletes sweat through moves that blend calisthenics, plyometrics, functional training, and self-defense, all designed to work with their individual bodies. Classes meet indoors at various gyms and outdoors at area parks during warm months.
Frequented by the Orland Fire Rescue squad, Pro Sports Performance & Fitness helps guests achieve their fitness goals in a sprawling, high-ceilinged facility. The coaches customize workouts for each client, tailoring the moves to help stimulate weight loss or improve sports performance. All the coaches have studied nutrition or exercise science and are athletes themselves.
When someone shows him an invitation to a reunion or a sports meet, Voltaire Hawkins sees a goal for which to strive. He helms VH Personal Training, sharing the skills he acquired through his certification as an International Sports Sciences Association personal trainer. He's certified to train not only athletes, but also children and older adults, combining his vast knowledge of exercise and biological sciences to produce a suite of developmentally appropriate exercises for clients of any age. He enjoys helping young athletes up their game, or young children discover the joy of exercise. He also trains clients toward more concrete goals, helping them look great at weddings or class reunions, and he even provides family discounts so the whole clan can trim up for family meet-ups.
Evonamic’s signature boot camp, EvoCamp, blends strength training, cardio, ab work—and the great outdoors. Held in Grant Park, the twice-weekly workouts tone the entire body, much like dumbbells you have to chase down first. The company also offers alternate programs with slightly different focuses, such as the Spartan Group X program, whose three-stage workout burns fat and preps participants for the Spartan obstacle race. The EvoNutri nutrition program teaches participants how their bodies respond to various types of food, and the Evokids program fights childhood obesity by teaching youths about both nutrition and fitness.