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No Frills for Grayslake's CrossFit Gym

Grayslake's A3 CrossFit gym, which opened late summer, is nothing like what you'd expect. Here, it's stripped down and hardcore.

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.

Annie October 25, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Nick I'm just wondering if you have all ready tried crossfit? I beleve that there are crossfits around that have the attitude of signing all the people they can get and not pay attentiion to how they are working out/lifting correctly so in a way you are correct but this is NOT TRUE AT A3!! I am a testiment to this because I had shoulder surgery in March for arthirtis and since working with Jeremy and Denny it has never felt better and I have more movement to my shoulder that I have ever had.In fact my husband and 2 kids go there also.(My son is 15 and daughter is 12).They LOVE going and would love to go more. They watch them to make sure they are doing things correctly. I WOULD NOT SEND THEM THERE if I felt they WERE NOT WATCHING THEM and teaching them how to lift correctly.There are all kinds of "workout" places that just collect your money and not care about how you are doing. I have never been a member of a gym that really showed you how to do things correctly without injurying yourself. At A3 they pay close attention to what your strengths and weaknesses are and scale the workout to that. A3 is not "JUST A PLACE TO WORKOUT" it is like a FAMILY and they really do care about the people that go there.Personally I know physical therapists that DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING so to generalize crossfit places all the same is UNFAIR. If you have not tried it yet you should join us for the free week and see for yourself. Nick I don't have "an axe to grind" with you either.
Nick October 25, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Annie, thanks for your reply. Yes I have tried it, and didn't care for it because I don't see the way the lifts and insane rep counts apply to most people's daily life. I can't imagine a situation where I'm going to need to flip a giant tire 25 times in a row. There is no need for your to YELL though. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I even said straight up, "I have no first hand experience with Mr. Happel or Mr. Krerowicz. I'm sure they are great guys and I respect the honor and commitment Mr. Happel gave serving our country. People just need to know what I've experienced when it comes to crossfit before blindly jumping into the newest fitness fad." Every situation is different, but I would be weary of something that allows its "certified trainers" to get that by spending $1,000 and only 2 days of training. The general public isn't aware of that fact when the jump on the bandwagon, and I feel people should know both sides before making a decision that could permanently affect someone's health. The same can be said for physical therapists, but at least they have more than a weekend worth of training. If I'm not mistaken they have to have a Masters or Doctorate to be certified.
Tammy October 25, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Nick,like you said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should always do research before committing to a program such as Crossfit. Good trainers will do more than just 2 days of training and will continue to train and earn additional certifications. I have been doing Crossfit since January and I have never felt better! I have lost weight, lost inches, and gained self confidence. I also gained a "new family" with my fellow crossfitters! I used to belong to a standard gym which never cared whether I actually went to workout or not. And certainly didn't care whether I did things right or wrong. I was just a number they collected the monthly fee from. A3 Crossfit is NOT like that. Jeremy & Denny know all their clients. They know our strenghts and weaknesses and ALWAYS watch to ensure we do lifts with proper form! Back in January is when I met Jeremy doing Crossfit. When he opened A3 Crossfit, I followed with confidence in his training ability. My husband and 15 year old son also do Crossfit at A3 and love it. Like all athletes, the more you train the more risk you have of injury, but that doesn't stop millions of people from playing sports. Maybe you should come try the program at A3 Crossfit and see for yourself the WONDERFUL trainers Jeremy and Denny are!
Northshore October 25, 2012 at 03:51 PM
You've got to be wary when Nick claims that his good friend ,a physical therapist is seeing increased business because of this dangerous new "Fad". I suspect that Nick is actually the alleged therapist?
David L. October 25, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Nick, I am a 47 year old man that was very athletic in my younger days. I have had very extensive knee surgery, hip surgery and elbow surgery. I spent a year in physical therapy and have been in my worst shape ever. I decided to try crossfit and asked my physical therapist for her approval. After meeting with them, she gave me a big thumbs up. My knees have never felt better. The trainers are attentive and scale workouts to your ability. I have full faith in them and look forward to my workouts. There is always the chance of an injury when you do anything physical but I believe with the training I get from crossfit those chances are diminished greatly.

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