SYCAMORE – When you think of a typical gym, a few treadmills, free weights and elliptical machines probably come to mind.
But battle ropes, speed ladders, power sleds and plyometric boxes? Probably not.
The nontraditional exercise gear, usually used to train hard-core athletes, gives Chris Jarvis about 100 workout routines for each of his clients.
“Everything is designed around functional body movements,” said Jarvis, owner of Sycamore Elite Fitness, which opened in early June. “We’re not doing heavy squats or bench presses.”
He considers his new business more of a training studio than a gym. Because his workout routines are so personalized, clients have ranged in ages from 9 to 86.
Jarvis graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2009 with a degree in kinesiology. He’s been an athlete all his life and even asked his parents for a weight set at age 5.
He worked as a trainer at two gyms before he opened his own facility. His workout sessions are one-on-one with clients who have the whole gym to themselves. He hopes the private setting will eliminate some barriers for people who are nervous about going to a gym.
“A lot of people are self-conscious about working out. So many people don’t know what to wear or do, or how to use the machines,” he said.
He said the price of personal training has become much more accessible to the public in recent years, adding that he keeps his overhead low because he’s the sole trainer. He offers free classes Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. that are open to the public.
Someone who trains with Jarvis might encounter the power sled – a weighted sled a person pulls across the room using a rope, then turns around and pushes it back across the room.
“You do this once or twice. It really gets the heart going,” he said.
Jarvis also utilizes plyometric boxes, which are boxes of various heights. Clients start from the floor and try to jump on each box. Battle ropes are similar to holding the ends of a jump rope. Clients hold a long rope in each hand and create a wavelike effect with each rope to strengthen the upper body. The exercise gets more difficult as Jarvis introduces squats and other body movements.
Traditional exercise equipment isn’t conducive to the way the body moves naturally, Jarvis said. Moving the body through space, rather than a linear plane, creates a neuromuscular connection, which helps the body move more efficiently.
Because those are methods commonly used to train athletes, Jarvis said he didn’t feel the need to “reinvent the wheel.”
He said the exercises won’t make women too bulky, which is one misconception of athletic training. He considers one client, Cathy Doederlein, his poster child because she lost 115 pounds.
Jarvis helps clients lose weight through a three-tiered program: exercise through resistance, cardiovascular exercise and nutrition. Each client gets a personalized meal and nutrition plan based on caloric needs.
He’s so confident that his methods work that he guarantees clients their money back if they’re not satisfied.
So far, no one has made that request, he said.