Fitness Together – Lake Forest
225 East Deerpath
Fitness Together provides you with high-quality, one-on-one Private Personal Fitness Training where reaching your health and fitness goals is a personalized experience. At Fitness Together, it's all about YOU!
Lake Forest/ Lake Bluff Chamber: What was the inspiration behind Fitness Together and your involvement in the business?
Craig Garkie: I was originally a pre-med student in college [at Western Illinois] and with the healthcare reform issues, I didn't know it was going to happen with that, so I switched over to physical therapy. I didn't really enjoy that, so I switched over to Kinesiology. About ten years ago, after college, I came up here from Quincy, Illinois [where I grew up] because my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) moved here for a job. I looked at a bunch of places to work and I did a ton of interviews, but I fell in love with this place just because you get the intimacy of one-on-one training. It was a different feeling than what you would experience at a big health club. Here we can focus more on the science, programming and nutrition. About 5 years ago, I took over and bought this place, and now I’m the owner and a trainer...there was no way I was giving up that part of it! Fitness Together is the largest privately-owned franchise for personal training in the world. I'm actually on the Leadership Council for the whole franchise.
LFLBC: What is your business vision?
CG: Well, like any business, we want to grow. But coming from Quincy, which is a small town, a little like Lake Forest, we don’t want to get too big. [I really admire] Kiddles…they are my heroes, in the fact that they haven’t changed their formula [over the years] and they take care of everybody. I want to be that kind of studio. I want to be cutting edge in science and chic and cool. But, at the same time, I don’t want to be extremely expensive and gouge people. All of our trainers have the degrees and the certs to be down in the city, where they charge $250 an hour, but that's not what we're trying to do. We're trying to be affordable and understand that in a small town it’s not about charging high prices.
LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Fitness Together?
CG: One thing I want people to know is that we have a real family vibe here. It's not an intimidating place where you're going to have a coach yell at you, or someone's going to tell you you can never drink wine and you can never eat this and never do that. It's realistic, it's science-based, and it's driven by data. But at the same time, your emotions and feelings are valid and tangible and you're not just coming in here for us to turn you into a robot. We spend time working on your behaviors. your pains and your emotions…it’s therapy, right? No one wakes up and says, “I enjoy being overweight.” People come to us because they have finally had enough. We get that it’s tough in life with people always talking at you--so we try to listen a little bit more.
LFLBC: What other local businesses do you work with?
CG: We try to partner with anybody that we can…like a wellness network. We work really closely with Athletico--they're awesome. They know that when they are releasing someone from Physical Therapy, [we’re a great next step for them, because] we're all pre-med, and pre-PT based and that [their clients] are in good hands here. We know the protocol and we’re right next door. Also, we've worked with Pilates [studios] and we want to do more stuff with local yoga studios and Forever Om. Long-story short, I want to work other hometown businesses…small, local.
LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?
On July 13 we’re having a ‘Row-Raiser,’ raising money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We’ll have a tent outside our studio with eight rowers. We’ve asked other business to participate: Athletico, Lululemon, Gifted, other local businesses. There’s more info about the Fitness Together Row Raiser on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/374799013146078/
We’ve done food drives, book drives for Bernie’s Book Bank…any opportunities we can. I'm never opposed to any idea. I would love to do more locally with GLASA.
We also work with some kids that have special needs. It means a lot to those families and they can get a break. They know the kids are in good hands here and they are going to be working out and having a good time. We really bond with the kids…and they're also getting in better shape.