LifeStories

LifeStart exists to engage and motivate the corporate workforce. We've been helping people transform their lives for over 25 years. We'd love to hear how LifeStart's staff and program offerings have helped you achieve lasting change. If you have a story to tell, click here!
Joshua E
I have the tools, the knowledge and the accountability in place to continue to progress to my best possible level of health and fitness.
My story is one of ups and downs. I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I have had seasons of "victory" where I was able to maintain a reasonable weight for a period of several years; but as of the last 5 years, I had been in the worst shape of my life.

It started after training and competing in a bodybuilding show. I had dieted down from 285lbs down to 218lbs in 5 months. I thought that I had finally conquered being overweight. Unfortunately, as soon as the goal was reached and the competition was over, I reverted back to old habits and within 2 months, I had regained all of the weight. Over the next year, I gained a significant amount of weight (365lbs at my heaviest).
15 weeks ago, with the help and motivation from my Lifestart Center director Colin Brunet, I was able to finally take ownership over my health and fitness! Now, I have been tracking my nutrition, making better food choices in quality and quantity as well as staying active. I get my body composition checked every 4 weeks with Colin, and as of my last appointment, I have lost a total of 45 lbs and 9.1% in 14 weeks. I have officially lost 100lbs total!

The best part is that for the first time in my life, I am in control of my weight. I have the tools, the knowledge and the accountability in place to continue to progress to my best possible level of health and fitness. I'm so grateful for Colin and the entire "Laitram for Life" Lifestart staff.

My advice to the next person? Get yourself on an eating plan and hold yourself accountable. Surround yourself with people pursuing the same goals you are and be accountable to someone who will encourage and educate you. If I can do it, so can you!
Laura G.
These classes pushed me out of my workout comfort zone and the results are well worth it!
I have been a LifeStart member for 9+ years and couldn’t be happier with my decision to join. The staff is great and always there to help.

I love the group exercise classes. The variety of types and instructors help to mix up my weekly workouts. Having a scheduled class to go to motivates me to make it to the gym, even on days when the struggle to go is real! The instructors at LifeStart are motivating and encouraging. They also do a wonderful job preparing our workouts. Prior to joining I never would have done burpees, push ups or box jumps on my own. However, since being an active member in group fitness classes, I now do all of those! These classes pushed me out of my workout comfort zone and the results are well worth it!

I always get an awesome workout and leave class feeling accomplished. Thank you Two North LifeStart for the kick butt workouts!
Charlie S.
I'm proud to report LifeStart has helped me maintain my weight, reduce my blood pressure and sustain my overall health...
In February of 2002, I joined the LifeStart facility at 161 N. Clark Street to take advantage of the convenient location. Hoping that it would reduce one potential barrier to staying in shape.

Having this facility in the basement of the building -eliminated the hassle of getting to/from a workout, which forced me to get off my butt and take care of my body, even on the days when I didn't feel like making the effort!

Seventeen years later, I'm proud to report LifeStart has helped me maintain my weight, reduce my blood pressure and sustain my overall health. During this length of time, I've completed more than 75 running races, including 20 half marathons and eight, full marathons - my most recent, the Chicago Marathon for the sixth time this past October.

There are a lot of people who may be faster, stronger and more sculpted than me, but I can honestly say that I wouldn't have accomplished and maintained my personal results without help from LifeStart!

Victoria V.
My lean weight to fat weight ratio is better and I have lost inches off my body. I have turned my body composition around and I am more comfortable in my skin.
I have been a member at Lifestart since September 2018. When I started this journey, I had no idea where it was going to take me. Before working with Jill, I had never even thought to work with a personal trainer. But after having two kids back-to-back, I needed to add another dimension to my work out routine.

I was a soccer player back in the day and had never lifted a weight in my life. Jill took me to a new level I never knew I needed. My lean weight to fat weight ratio is better and I have lost inches off my body. I have turned my body composition around and I am more comfortable in my skin. I still have a way to go on this journey but I am more confident in how I look and feel.

I have worked my way to up 3 personal training sessions a week and 1-2 sessions of cardio on my own. I use what Jill has taught me to do mini workouts when I can at home. I have even managed to get my husband to do plank competitions on the weekend!

Overall, I can say I am healthier than I have ever been. I am a huge advocate of personal training and I have mentioned to Jill quite a few times she is stuck with me forever! Sometimes you need an extra push to move and motivate you to get to the next level. Huge shout out to Jill helping me achieve my goals and never letting me give up!

If I can offer any advice it would be “Never miss a Monday!” As much as Monday workouts are rough, I know it helps set the tone for my week.
James B.
Don't just exercise, train toward your goal!
I was very lucky that until age 35, I never struggled with my weight. Despite not regularly exercising or watching my diet, my weight always remained the same. Unfortunately that all changed and I began to passively gain weight. Over the next 3 years I gained 50lbs and 6 inches on my waist line. When my 38" waist pants were getting tight, I decided enough was enough, and joined the LifeStart facility at 175 W. Jackson.

I began by taking RIPPED classes, running on the Woodway, and doing some light weight training. I quickly found that I was far, far more out of shape than I realized. Being a former athlete, I blindly signed up for a 5k run that was 6 months out so that I had a tangible goal on my calendar. The next 6 months were arduous as I clawed my way back at reclaiming a baseline athleticism. I finished the 5k with a respectable time, and had lost 20lbs in the process.

But I was hooked and I wanted more. I made the mental & physical leap from merely "exercising" to "training." I did not want to simply lose weight anymore, I wanted to gain lean muscle mass and lose body fat. I started to regularly speak with the staff at my gym, about unlocking the next level of training. They helped me learn more about how diet was the key to everything. So I began tracking everything I ate and over the next year I lost another 26lbs.

Over my first 18 months at 175 W. Jackson I lost 46lbs and my body fat dropped by 15%. I also lost 6 inches off my waistline. Since then, I have changed course and am trying to gain fat-free lean mass. While I maintain a healthy dose of cardio, my emphasis is now on strength training. I've gained 8lbs of lean muscle mass back over the last 12 months with an overall 13lb weight gain and a modest increase of 1.5% of body fat. My waistline has not changed. At this point, I am no longer focused on the number on the scale as much as I am with my proportions in the mirror.

I am very thankful to the staff at 175 W. Jackson for educating me on diet and more advanced training techniques. Don't just exercise, train toward your goal!"
Alicia M.
I am starting 2019 off happier and healthier than I have ever been. I credit the trainers at LifeStart for creating an environment that continues to motivate and challenge me.
I started with LifeStart in 2018 at nearly 225 lbs. My firm decided to get a corporate membership to the center and an office-wide challenge starting in January.

We got an assessment at the beginning and at the end of the challenge. We got points for different things, such as going to group classes, working out for a certain number of minutes, taking the stairs instead of the escalator, and various weekly challenges. This pushed me to get down to the gym as much as possible, and I started to love the lunchtime group classes.

I ended up winning the challenge and I never looked back. I still go to as many lunchtime classes as I can and have lost over 40lbs and tons of inches! I am starting 2019 off happier and healthier than I have ever been. I credit the trainers at LifeStart for creating an environment that continues to motivate and challenge me.
Chip B.
Some mornings, it's hard to get up early for the workout, but knowing there will be friendly faces to greet me helps a lot.
Since April of 2018, I've lost 85 pounds. Swimming every work-day morning at the Esplanade Fitness Center has been a big help in reaching this weight. Of course, better diet and the support of others has also been a big contribution. However, the availability of a fitness center (through my company) helped me get there a little quicker and healthier.

I'd like to thank Katie, Howard, and Henry, who are always helpful and greet me every morning with a smile plus a cheerful hello. Some mornings, it's hard to get up early for the workout, but knowing there will be friendly faces to greet me helps a lot.

I've still got a ways to go in my weight loss journey, but thanks to having a place to go to swim each workday morning, it's a little easier and a little more fun! Thanks LifeStart!
Annika J.
Exercise and healthy eating have now become a way of life for me.
At age 74, I’m sure I’m one of the more “senior members” enrolled in LifeStart. But that’s all the more reason for me to stay in shape, as I want to continue pursuing my active lifestyle.

I retired 10 years ago because I wanted to be able to travel while I was still in good health. While I’ve had several other personal trainers, the one who’s made the biggest difference in my life is Brian Halling, general manager of a LifeStart fitness center in Chicago, who has trained me for the past five years.

I train with Brian for two 45-minute sessions each week. The sessions are a combination of weight training and cardio exercise. We also work a lot on balance, especially in the winter, because I want to remain upright on Chicago’s icy sidewalks. One of my favorite things is to lace up the boxing gloves and throw a few punches. A few months ago, I started taking a weekly kickboxing class and now want to try some of the other classes too.

About six years ago I was diagnosed with arthritis in my left hip. It gradually worsened and, after trying various anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and cortisone injections, I finally had hip replacement surgery in November 2016. I spent three months recuperating, and was thrilled when my surgeon told me I could start working out again. I was very touched that, while I was home recovering, Brian and his lovely wife Michelle gave up one of their Saturdays to visit me and bring lunch for all of us.

In March 2016, I didn’t like what I was seeing in the mirror and decided I needed to do something about my weight. Each time I’d try to lose weight by myself, I’d start out with great intentions but after three or four days I’d be back to my old bad habits. Brian put me in touch with Grace Iberle, a LifeStart Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. In our first meeting, I admitted to eating a doughnut every morning and having a dish of ice cream every night. Grace helped me understand that I needed to add more protein, fruits, and vegetables to my diet. She explained the “Plate Method” which aids in portion control. During the period that Grace and I met, I kept a food diary of all my meals and snacks. She would review my food logs at our weekly meetings and help me set goals for the following week. She had excellent suggestions for healthy snacks, including yogurt, almonds or pecans, Babybel cheese, and Kind bars. She encouraged me to try new foods. I discovered that I really liked brown rice, and that I really didn’t like turkey bacon!

At the end of four months, I had lost 18 lbs. and have managed to keep it off, although I do occasionally backslide. But when I do, I know what to do to get back on track. Since our initial sessions I’ve periodically scheduled “refresher courses” with Grace if I feel that I’m starting to lose focus or the number on the scale begins to edge up. I now use "Healthie", an app on my iPhone, to log my food as well as my workouts.

Exercise and healthy eating have now become a way of life for me. I’m grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received from both Brian and Grace and value tremendously the personal and professional relationships I have with them.
Derrick B.
They push me to use muscles I don’t normally work on and the 45 minutes goes by without a thought!
I’ve been at LifeStart going on 6 months now. I originally joined LifeStart because it was located right in my building, and for me, I am more able to suceed when I remove barriers (excuses) from my path.

I decided to take my first group classes at LifeStart as a way to mix things up and get motivated. I find the Bootcamp class run by Gabrielle and the Butts & Gutts class run by Jamie to be extremely useful. They push me to use muscles I don’t normally work on and the 45 minutes goes by without a thought!

The facility is always clean and the gym is never overcrowded. I know LifeStart has more to offer, with 1 on 1 training, fitness tracking, etc and I plan to take advantage in 2019! Thanks for supporting me in and cheers to all the success coming our way in the new year!
Dave C.
"So far I've lost over 15 lbs and have seen serious progression towards a healthier body and mind. "
I never thought about working with a personal trainer until I joined the Buckingham club. I was introduced to Rebecca Bersano when the club was offering a free health screening. Rebecca was so positive and projected so much enthusiasm that when she offered up the opportunity to work with a personal trainer, I didn't have to think for long that it would be great to try.

Rebecca worked with me toward our laid out exercise plan and each week she came up an innovative program to concentrate on different muscle groups. So far I've lost over 15 lbs and have seen serious progression towards a healthier body and mind.

I also take advantage of the free classes especially Pilates and Core which are both fantastic.

Overall, the staff at the Buckingham couldn't be more helpful and supportive and I look forward to my classes each week.

Thanks for the opportunity to let me share my story with you and a special shout out to Rebecca who made all my success possible.
Todd C.
In August of 2018, I was down to 166 lbs with a 19% body weight loss.
I was always a relatively active person but at age 40 I broke both my tibia and fibula playing hockey. After the injury I seemed to find excuses to let my workouts slip. I was still skating but nowhere near the level I was accustomed to. I'm 5'9" and at the low point, I weighed in at 205 lbs. I decided I needed a change so I joined LifeStart.

I started by taking a group fitness class but was unable to finish it. It was a little embarrassing considering I was a triathlete not that long ago. Since starting this journey, I have graduated to taking classes 4 days/week at LifeStart and am a regular at Total Body Express, MyZone Boot Camp and Strength and Conditioning. The coaches at LifeStart including Eric, Jon, Kristin, Randi and now Molly have been the support and consistency I have needed to get back to where I need and want to be physically. In August of 2018, I was down to 166 lbs with a 19% body weight loss.

By no means am I suggesting this was easy. I have worked hard to get back to where I am and I honestly could not have achieved this level of success without the training staff and the other LifeStart members that have become my "family". I will forever be grateful for all they have done for me. I'm not done yet and have more goals in mind but I finally believe I am in a position where I can go out accomplish my goals.
Linda S.
The scale was going in the wrong direction and I knew I had to make some major lifestyle changes.
My weight loss journey started on my 55th birthday, February 24, 2018. I jumped on the scale at my doctor's office and weighed in at the highest weight of my entire adult life...186.8 lbs. I was "shocked" to say the least. I worked out 6 days a week but I knew my eating habits were bad. My heart dropped and I was extremely discouraged. I had recently suffered a personal loss and turned to food and unhealthy lifestyle habits as a way of handling my grief. The scale was going in the wrong direction and I knew I had to make some major lifestyle changes.

I started tracking my food intake, made the commitment to give up alcohol, sugary treats, junk food, and commit to eating clean and monitoring my portion sizes. I met with Jon Calhoun at my Lifestart Fitness Center and he helped me start my journey. I had my starting measurements recorded and a personal training session with him. You can't help but feed off the energy of those working out around you, it's intense! With incorporating HIIT training into some of my workouts and making a daily commitment to pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, I am proud to report that as of September 15, I have lost 18 lbs! I feel so much better about myself and healthier now that I lost 18 lbs. My journey is still a work in progress but I am so proud of the that that I am on.

I continue to workout 6 days a week and continue to monitor my food intake on a daily basis. I made a commitment to my health and overall well being and I stuck with it. I hope that this story inspires women ages 55+. We all know how easy it is to gain weight at this age but we also know how extremely hard it is to loose it. It's not hopeless but it takes hard work and commitment.
Bob P.
After about the first 2 months of personal training, I dropped to 200 pounds and reached my initial goal, for weight loss, but I still felt like I could achieve more.
I have been a LifeStart member at 150 N. Riverside since August of 2017 when our company moved into the building. Our company had been located in another nearby office building for 12 years prior and I was a member of the fitness center there for the entire time. I would work out 2-3 times per week and basically follow the same routine every day. I would run 3 miles on the treadmill and then use 4 or 5 of the same strength training machines.

After moving to the new building at 150 N. Riverside and starting a new experience at a different fitness center, I started to think about participating in sessions with the fitness trainers. But for the first 4 months I just continued my old routine. However, I felt that I had plateaued and was not making any progress. Meanwhile, one of my coworkers had signed up for a package of personal training sessions and told me that she felt she was making some good progress. That’s when I seriously started looking into the pricing/options for personal training. When she gifted me with her remaining training sessions, I had no excuse anymore not to give personal training a try.

I was introduced to Ashley Schroeder in late November of 2017. I weighed 215 pounds at the time and my goal was to lose at least 15 pounds while generally increasing my muscles tone. I also wanted to learn a variety of new exercises so I could break out of my normal routine and increase the effectiveness of my workouts.

Ashley enthusiastically accepted and we started personal training sessions 3 times per week. In addition, I would come to the fitness center one or two days per week to work out on my own. Ashley has been a great trainer. She is always full of positive energy. When training, she strikes an ideal balance of being pushy to achieve results while still being nice and making the workouts fun. At times, I have given her the death stare (10 more burpees? – are you kidding me?) but I always want to hug her after every workout because she is so good at what she does. She continually provides guidance on diet/nutrition, and other behaviors that all lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Ashley also encouraged me to purchase a MYZONE belt and download the MYZONE app to my phone. I use it during my workout sessions with Ashley as well as when I work out on my own. I find that I work out a little longer each time in order to achieve a higher level of calories burned or MEP’s. And I try to be one of the top performers each month for MEP’s with my group of connections on the app. It’s a friendly competition that really helps to keep me motivated.

After about the first 2 months of personal training, I dropped to 200 pounds and reached my initial goal (for weight loss). But I still felt like I could achieve more. Ashley and I agreed on a goal of 185 pounds. It sounded ambitious but I was ready for the challenge.

After 3 months of personal training, I transitioned to group training and have been part of group training for 4 months. It has been a lot of fun; Ashley really knows how to keep the group moving and we get a great workout. During this time in group training, I reached the 185 pound goal. I look and feel fantastic at this weight. I can run longer and faster, I don’t tire as easily, and my mid-section is slimmer.

Now that I have achieved the goals I originally set 8 months ago, Ashley and I have recently discussed where to go next. I am excited to begin Phase 2 of my fitness journey with a new focus of increasing my strength.

Training with Ashley has been a phenomenal experience. I am very happy with what we have achieved together so far. I could never have achieved these results on my own and I look forward to making additional progress. Thanks to Ashley for being such a positive influence on how I think about fitness, health, wellness and life. I look forward to seeing her every training session and I consider her a dear friend and personal adviser as well as my fitness trainer.
Shannon L.
I’m down 80 pounds from a year ago and I cannot wait to see the look on my doctor’s face when she sees me and the progress I've made.
Complications from Type-2 diabetes contributed the death of my mother and grandmother. With that family history I've known for years that I was at risk and my weight added to that risk. Yet, for years I failed to heed the warnings.

Last year, that changed. My doctor's report went from "pre-diabetic" to "borderline and at your next annual physical you will be diabetic and we will start you on medication." That was the wake-up call I needed. I was determined that even if that happened, it would happen with me fighting it every step of the way.

I immediately made one change at a time. I’ve tried to get control of my health before but always jumped in with both feet thinking “all-or-nothing”. The efforts always failed and I always gave up. Incrementally, first I cut easy-to-cut sugar (like tea, coffee, soft drinks and desserts). Then I started logging food and tracking blood sugar. Then I changed how and when I ate carbs. Next came morning walks. Two months in I was seeing some pretty great results with about 20 pounds down but I knew I could do more.

I finally walked in to the LifeStart Fitness Center at work, something I joined when it opened years before but only used a time or two. I met with our Manager and Dietitian, Kristin, to discuss nutrition. She encouraged me to meet with Colin, the Fitness Director. After the first meeting with Colin, I was hooked. His enthusiasm and encouragement got me excited. Despite many gym memberships through the years, I’ve never been excited about fitness. I signed up for personal training three days a week, started a variety of group classes and found myself going at least once a day, often more. I love that right there at work I can do personal training with Strength, HIIT and endurance goals and have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of fun classes including aerobics, dance Pilates and yoga. Each aspect of the program provides a different yet critical part to my success.

It has now been a year since that doctor's appointment and I’m down 80 pounds. The results of my follow up appointment were wonderful! A year ago I was borderline diabetic and had been pre-diabetic for years. As of my annual check-up last month, not only am I not borderline diabetic (or full on diabetic as my doctor had predicted), I’m not pre-diabetic at all! My fasting glucose and A1C numbers were all within normal range. My blood pressure was also a lot lower and she has me on a 3-month plan to wean off of blood pressure medication. I really owe my life to the team at Laitram’s LifeStart facility.
Judy
I'm in the best physical (and mental) shape I have ever been -- much stronger, more muscular, and much happier.
When I was younger, I used to always think of myself as someone who was in good shape. As I got older and got married and started a family, I noticed that I was struggling with my weight. I would try to exercise and diet, but with no success.

Over the years, my weight would go up and down. Two years ago, I had ballooned to the highest weight since I had my youngest child 18 years ago.

That all changed when we moved to our new building in August 2015 with its on-site fitness center. I began working with a personal trainer, Cara. She has challenged me every time I workout to push myself to the limits and beyond. Changing my workouts so that my body responded and changed along with them.

The changes to my physical (and mental) wellbeing have been incredible to say the least. I'm in the best physical shape I have ever been -- much stronger, more muscular, and much happier. I now know that with the proper tools and knowledge you can achieve anything. I have lost a total of 30 pounds and am down to 16.7% body fat.

Thanks to Cara and the entire LifeStart fitness center for helping me make this happen.