Functional exercise is focus at Orland fitness center
By Daniel P. Smith For Sun-Times Media
Combined workout: Utilizing ball-like weights with a handle, kettlebell exercises blend strength and cardio into one, for an intense calorie-burning workout. | Supplied photo
Mark Mueller has a smile on his face.
The general manager of the Charter Fitness in Orland Park sees a packed fitness club teeming with members pushing their physical limits and working toward healthier, stronger lives. That alone is worth a smile. But add in recent changes that made the Charter Fitness facility a more modern, expansive setting and Mueller’s downright giddy.
“With the added space and equipment, we’re able to help a lot more members achieve their fitness goals,” Mueller said.
Orland Park’s Charter Fitness location recently added 3,500 square feet packed with added cardio and strength equipment as well as a fitness studio. In addition, the existing space was remodeled with a fresh look courtesy of bold paint colors, new finishes, and renovated locker rooms.
“The expansion and renovation has created a lot more energy throughout the facility,” said Mueller, whose fitness center sits at 15601 S. 94th Ave. “There’s a ‘wow factor’ now that wasn’t there before.”
Let’s get functional
Changes to the facility’s physical plant, meanwhile, have allowed Mueller and his Charter Fitness staff to further the center’s fitness offerings. With the added space, for instance, Charter Fitness has been able to embrace one of the fitness world’s most en vogue developments — functional workouts — and provide more personal training sessions.
Focusing on core stability, balance, and strength, Charter Fitness director of personal training Roger McGreal said functional workouts train the body for the activities of everyday life, such as walking stairs or carrying grocery bags.
“Functional workouts are so valuable because it correlates to everyday activity and gets people back in control of their lives,” McGreal said.
Two of the day’s most popular functional workouts are kettlebells and suspension training, more commonly known by the brand name TRX. McGreal said both workouts present new challenges and have gained traction for the positive results they have sparked in clients.
Kettlebells date back to 18th Century Russia, a sign that history does in fact repeat itself. Utilizing ball-like weights with a handle, kettlebell exercises blend strength and cardio into one, for an intense calorie-burning workout.
“With just one kettlebell, you have the ability to incorporate whole-body movement with exercises such as swings and holds,” McGreal said.
In kettlebell training, the entire body must work as a cohesive unit, every lift engaging the entire body. Proper kettlebell training not only can ease the stress and difficulty of everyday activities but also reduce the risk of future injury.
Similarly, suspension training seeks to target the rigors and tasks of everyday life.
McGreal said suspension training, which incorporates hundreds of exercises by using two nylon bands with handles, allows users of all fitness levels to build strength by progressing and regressing with every movement.
“With suspension training, you can blend strength, balance, flexibility, and core strength all in one,” McGreal said.
Alongside the Navy Seal-created TRX brand name, another mainstream suspension training product line is Inkaflexx. Both training systems claim to improve balance and flexibility through a series of exercises that have individuals gripping the straps while hanging the legs or leaning back. The exercises, trainers say, force the body to engage the body’s center and build core strength.
A more personal workout
At Charter Fitness locations in Orland Park and throughout Chicagoland, both kettlebell and suspension training sessions are available with a personal trainer. McGreal said these one-on-one sessions cut down on the intimidation factor and help individuals learn the exercise fundamentals.
“There’s so much fitness information out there that it can easily be confusing,” McGreal said, noting that Charter Fitness brought personal training back in house about two years ago. “By having a one-on-one session, the personal trainer can help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts and training most efficiently.”
McGreal added that the individual attention a personal trainer provides allows better alignment with personal goals and what one hopes to get from the workout routine.
“A personal trainer is able to sit with a member, identify his or her needs and goals, and create an action plan that puts those goals within reach,” McGreal said.