A3 CrossFit in Grayslake is not your typical gym experience. There are no rows beyond rows of treadmills, elliptical machines and stair-climbers.
There are no TVs, no locker rooms, no towel service and certainly no juice bar.
This is a 3,250 square-foot warehouse space with turf, 300 pound tires, atlas stones, a pull-up rig, chains, resistance bands, free weights and climbing ropes.
The workout environment is stripped down, hardcore and produces results, said owner/trainer Jeremy Happel, who was an all-around high school athlete and football captain who helped lead his team to a Indiana 4A state championship in 2000.
At A3 CrossFit, he said, "Your body doesn't get used to it. The intensity always changes, so you won't plateau."
Also unlike a typical gym, there are no walk-ins, no "I think I'll go to the gym tonight."
Because this is a class-driven program, said Happel, you have to be motivated and committed to it.
"You always have a trainer with you," he said.
Also on staff is personal trainer Denny Krerowicz, whose father was a body-builder.
CrossFit workouts are tailored to customers' individual fitness levels and needs, so there's no "can't do" attitude. To keep a competitive spirit, the gym offers a "WOD" or Workout of the Day, which is the same 10 to 20 minute blast routine for everyone. Finish times are written on a giant white board to keep customers motivated to push themselves, and each other, harder the next time.
Happel said he doesn't focus so much on how much weight a customer loses, but more on how they feel.
"It's about making a lifelong change."
Athlete to soldier to trainer
If this sounds a bit like boot-camp style fitness, there's an element of that at CrossFit. Happel, who was an Army Reservist for nine years and completed a combat tour in Iraq in 2006, supervised the physical training of 120 soldiers.
After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision, Happel spent several years in the corporate world before deciding he wanted to make fitness training his life's business.
He furthered his education by studying Sports Management at Northern Illinois University, then began coaching high school football and providing strength and conditioning training to athletes involved in a variety of sports.
Through CrossFit, Happel is still training athletes at the high school and college level. He's also working to become certified in a CrossFit Kids program.
Working it out together
CrossFit customers Bill and Tammy Whaley, of Round Lake Beach, have been working out together since the gym opened. Each has lost more than 20 pounds.
The couple said they motivate each other to keep going, and enjoy being competitive.
"We razz each other," said Bill.
Tammy said she likes the variety of the training, and feels it has made her stronger. "I'm never bored."
A3 CrossFit is located at 888 E. Belvidere Road, Suite 218, in Grayslake. Go to www.a3crossfit.com for hours, classes and pricing or call (847) 986-3660.