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Cutting-edge fitness facility gets back to basics

CRYSTAL LAKE – When activity at Steven Schwab’s real estate business slowed, he put more emphasis on getting himself into shape.

It wasn’t long before his wife, Colleen, encouraged him to turn his fitness hobby into a new career.

“I had just started training for a marathon and started learning new fitness routines, and she goes, ‘Why don’t you just jump head first into it?’” Schwab said.

Schwab took his wife’s advice, becoming a personal trainer at Centegra Health Bridge Fitness Center in Crystal Lake. He met Randy Spencer, the owner of North Wall Rock Climbing in downtown Crystal Lake last fall, and in April the two went into business together with the opening of CrossFit North Wall. Colleen also plays an ownership and management role.

The new fitness center, located next door to North Wall Rock Climbing at 824 S. Main St. in Crystal Lake., offers a class-based style of high-intensity training unlike anything you’d find at your average gym.

“You’re basically trying to prepare your body for anything,” Schwab said. “Any situation that could come about.”

The CrossFit style, developed in a California garage in 2000, combines various workout techniques. Instead of strictly using weights, individuals in the class flip tires, jump on plywood boxes, do group sit-ups while holding a telephone pole, and use whatever else Schwab has inspiration to turn into a workout device.

“With CrossFit, it’s basically semi-private personal training,” Schwab said. “You got you and another group of individuals that are led through a workout by a coach.”

So far, the business is attracting a wide range of participants, from college-aged up to a 71-year-old.

Colleen said some clients are already in good shape, and looking to push themselves even further. Others want to make a lifestyle change.

Because weight and repetition is varied based on how much an individual can handle, anyone can participate in CrossFit workouts, Colleen added.

“Some people might think it’s a little intimidating, but it’s not,” she said.

Those just getting into CrossFit training go through six beginning sessions collectively called the “on ramp,” which instills the proper techniques and allows the trainers to get a feel for a trainee’s level of fitness.

Right now, the gym is offering a free trial class on Saturdays at 10 a.m. After that, individuals have the option to buy a monthly CrossFit pass for $150 or buy a 12-visit punch card for $120.

Steven Schwab said another attraction of CrossFit training is its variety. Because the workouts always are changing, it’s difficult to become bored. The “workout of the day,” – the 15-minute to 20-minute, highest intensity section of the hourlong class – usually isn’t repeated within a given couple of months.

Schwab said he’s already seen the benefits in those who’ve joined North Wall, validating his move to the fitness industry.

“I enjoy my life so much more,” he said. “I’m working more hours but I’m actually improving peoples’ lives. ... I helped them find their way and that’s what’s really rewarding.”

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