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!
Lawrence L
I'm so glad my company is investing in my continuing health in more ways than one, but the weekly habit of live classes to keep my momentum has been a huge value add in my daily habits.
Lifestart runs my company's gym but I had barely been on campus before we were all sent back to work from home so I never really got to know the staff at the campus gym.

My own Crossfit gym went out of business at the end of August thanks to all the restrictions and lack of willing members, which was a huge loss of community for me and I had fretted about what would keep me motivated and active.

Luckily the company gym had kept the online classes going using our corporate conferencing system. I managed to find occasions to block off my schedule so I could login 30 minutes here and there for Coach Rachel and Robert to lead me in classes such as Strength and Conditioning, HIIT, and even run occasional nutrition classes and provide personally curated workouts!

I'm so glad my company is investing in my continuing health in more ways than one, but the weekly habit of live classes to keep my momentum has been a huge value add in my daily habits. I've re-arranged my apartment so I have appropriate space for my workouts and even lost 15 pounds since I started frequenting the classes.

Thanks so much for all you do!
Barbara F.
During this pandemic Lifestart's virtual classes have kept me on my fitness track and provided a schedule for my day.
At age 74 I am in the best physical shape of my life. My weight which had pretty much stayed the same for years has now dropped 14 pounds. During this pandemic Lifestart's virtual classes have kept me on my fitness track and provided a schedule for my day. Since April I have been participating in Dane's motivating, challenging and fun variety of classes 3 times a week and during all those months have only missed 1 class. Since the many other virtual classes have been added to my membership I've been doing pilates, various yoga & strength classes 5 days a week with dynamic instructors Elena, Kimberly, Hannah, Robert & Danielle.

Many people talk about "the COVID 10" the average weight gain during the pandemic. Thank you LifeStart for motivating & challenging me to improve my physical fitness and mental well being in these challenging times.
Matt M.
It's now January 2021 and I have lost well over 40 lbs and my physique is better than ever. I feel I have the framework and the support system now to stay on track to ensure I keep my health and fitness top of mind.
In 2019 I had completely lost sight of my health and fitness: I stopped working out; I overate; and I gained 40 lbs. Intense work demands and multiple life pressures had become so overwhelming that my health and fitness took a back seat. When 2020 came around, I was determined to turn this around. I started the year out strong - working out, eating right - but then COVID hit. Everything got off-balance again and I gained another 15 lbs. I felt terrible, unhealthy and full of shame: I had let myself go and I needed to get back on track.

Then LifeStart offered virtual personal training in May 2020 and I signed up immediately. To my pleasant surprise, one of my former trainers, Jen Jessee, reached out right away and we started working out twice weekly. Our virtual strength training workouts, coupled with having an accountability buddy like her, so helped me to transform. Slowly but surely over 2020 I started making healthier lifestyle choices: I made home cooked meals; started tracking calories again; I cut back on my alcohol consumption; and when it was safe, went back to the gym to incorporate even more cardio and weight training into my weekly workout routine.

It’s now January 2021 and I have lost well over 40 lbs and my physique is better than ever. I feel I have the framework and the support system now to stay on track to ensure I keep my health and fitness top of mind.

In the end, I could have let COVID stop me from reaching my health goals - but I didn’t allow that to happen. I used this unique opportunity as a time to look inward and focus on my own well-being, mental health and fitness needs. I am so grateful to Jen and the LifeStart team for adapting so elegantly during this crisis.

It’s been a godsend, and I’m happier and healthier than ever before. Thank you!
Michael S
Since the pandemic it certainly is a challenge to stay motivated to workout at home...Hannah was a great find and I am grateful for the opportunities Lifestart has presented during these times.
Since the pandemic it certainly is a challenge to stay motivated to workout at home.

In April I took a Strictly Strength class with Hannah Sperry. She is a fantastic blend of hard work and positive reinforcement throughout her session. Since then I have had a hard time attending live classes, but between the Lifestart Instagram page and YouTube I mix in both her recorded Strictly Strength and HIIT classes to add a great balance with additional cardio.

Hannah was a great find and I am grateful for the opportunities Lifestart has presented during these times. Thanks.
Mark A.
I found two hours (my commuting time from the suburbs) to my day, and I was determined NOT to waste it...I now work out about 5 times per week, including strength, cardio, pilates and yoga.
There is an old and overused saying that goes something like "when life throws you lemons, make lemonade." Many have suffered during these tough times and have had to make the best of less than perfect situations. There are millions of stories of overcoming tough times.

Here is mine:

I joined the LifeStart facility when it opened in my office. And, seriously had the best intentions of being a frequent user, working out at lunch, taking classes and reaping the benefits of having an affordable work out option 4 floors away. Well, I didn't.

That all changed last March. When COVID 19 hit, I, like many downtown office workers were told to work from home for the foreseeable future.

But, I found two hours (my commuting time from the suburbs) to my day, and I was determined NOT to waste it. I have always had weight related issues, and never had the determination or time to commit to regular exercise.

My journey started during my first day working from home. I responded to an offer from LifeStart for "virtual" personal training. How could that work, I wondered?

I had my first appointment with Elise P. a few days later. I was hesitant. However, with Elise's wonderfully positive attitude and her willingness to not only listen but hear, I knew this could work. I have developed a regular workout schedule with Elise and always look forward to my sessions. She has also provided me options to continue making progress at home. Since then, I have signed up for Pilates with Jenna W. and Strength Training classes with Hannah S. They both care very much about their clients and their classes.

I now work out about 5 times per week, including strength, cardio, pilates and yoga.

Thank you to my wife, children, Lifestart and Elise for all of your support. You make great lemonade.

Be well!
Michelle P.
Living in times of uncertainty and chaos has greatly increased anxiety within me. The one thing that has helped me greatly has been the constant support of LifeStart and its staff.
Who would of thought that 2020 would of brought so many changes to the way we live our day-to-day lives. What I have learned from all this is never take anything for granted, because in a moment's notice everything can change.

Living in times of uncertainty and chaos has greatly increased anxiety within me. The one thing that has helped me greatly has been the constant support of LifeStart and its staff. A special shout out to Erin Kelly who has offered virtual classes from the beginning and has been a great coach, motivator and a pillar of strength!! It is also great to see the people you used to see and work out with every day join in. It tells me that we truly are in this together, and with the outstanding efforts of Erin and LifeStart, together we will prevail.
Beth M
Being able to stream live classes with 150 North Riverside's incredible trainers, Matt and Elise, has made me feel a sense of normalcy and connection during this crazy time in our lives.
The pandemic has left so many of us stranded from the people and activities we love. However, being able to stream live classes with 150 North Riverside's incredible trainers, Matt and Elise, has made me feel a sense of normalcy and connection during this crazy time in our lives! Matt, Elise and Lupe continue to make Lifestart 150 N Riverside a place to have a great time working off the stress of the workweek, even virtually. I'm so thankful for this team and their efforts to keep us healthy at home!
Faith B.
I am proud to be almost 40 and honestly in the best shape of my life!
In February of 2019 our company began it's biggest loser weight loss contest. Over the past 3 years I was only getting bigger and bigger. My weight was at an all time high. Being a full time employee and mother of two I found it very hard to make better decisions for myself. This contest started to help keep me be accountable for my actions. I started walking during lunch and eating better. The next thing I knew when I went to weigh in at the end of April I was down over 20 lbs and placed in the top 10% in the contest!

Shortly after this summer was here and it was a lot easier for me to maintain weight. I could enjoy the outdoors and eat grilled healthy foods. I dreaded winter. But, in October of 2019 our company opened it's fitness center. I had only been in a gym once in my entire life but I gave it a try. I am very proud to say that I average 5 days a week in the gym and I have successfully maintained my weight from April! (Even through the Holidays!) Our company recently started a new contest and I am excited to see what healthy eating and exercise can do for me. The energy levels I have now are nothing like I have ever seen.

I am proud to be almost 40 and honestly in the best shape of my life!
Lauren P.
I’m so grateful to Lifestart for not only improving my quality of life during quarantine but certainly beyond!
I hadn’t utilized any Lifestart services prior to quarantine and while I am a pretty active person normally, I had a few aches and pains that were really impeding my active lifestyle. I enjoy Pilates 3 days a week, walking my dog each day and have lifted in the past, but not regularly or with any specific routine or goals.

Over the last few years since not incorporating regular weight/resistance training, I’ve started noticing pain in my shoulders when I wake up each morning. I could barely sleep on my side and it felt like one side was so weak that I had limited use sometimes.

My first session with Ryan was spent talking about my specific goals of mobility and strength in my shoulders and arms. Ryan put together a routine that we would build on over the next few weeks that incorporated a great warm-up to get my joints warmed up and movements that included stretching throughout the day, working with a lacrosse ball to loosen specific tension points, meditation, etc. It’s been a great holistic approach that isn’t just focused on my designated time to lift. It can be adjusted to fit whatever the day brings so that I can stay feeling flexible and strong.

We’ve added to the routine to increase upper body strength, core strength and lower body strength all while being mindful of staying limber throughout the day. I felt better after just 3 sessions and continue to improve with the additional sessions in the following weeks. I’ve learned so much in a supportive environment about small adjustments that I can make to my fitness routine and daily life that will stick with me in the long term. I’m so grateful to Lifestart for not only improving my quality of life during quarantine but certainly beyond!

I have seen such wonderful results that have immensely impacted my daily life from sleeping better, increased range of motion, improved flexibility, improved performance in pilates, more endurance, less fatigue aches and pains over all. I would love to continue my remote training workouts beyond quarantine as it’s had such a great impact on my quality of life in a matter of weeks. Thank you Lifestart!
Sid K.
Our Fit Club is the only reason I am able to maintain good energy and perform well in stressful conditions in the midst of chaotic work and busy family life with a young toddler at home.
I love working out at our HMS Fit Club. We have a nice workout facility with excellent fitness programs backed by our passionate, energetic & enthusiastic trainers Terrell and Hollee. Terrell and Hollee are an excellent support system for my health goals as they have devised creative personal training programs to keep my workouts exciting, fun and pushing my limits. I am also a big fan of our 12:00pm 30-min HIIT workout session. I get a full body workout in and am able wrap up and get back to work within my lunch break.

My MyZone Belt has also been my trusted accountability partner to motivate me on daily and monthly basis. I was so excited to reach the 'Gold' Status recently for maintaining 1300 MEPS for the entire year! I also really enjoy friendly competition with my peers on hitting the max MEPS.

My work load over the past few months has doubled and tripled but one of the main reasons that I am able to maintain a healthy lifestyle is our Fit Club. Our Fit Club is the only reason I am able to maintain good energy and perform well in stressful conditions in the midst of chaotic work and busy family life with a young toddler at home.
Brooke S.
My blood work is now normal, my anxiety has decreased immensely, while my confidence is higher than ever and my energy levels have increased.
In March 2019, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been at 236lbs. Although weight is just a number, I was also the unhealthiest I’ve ever been as several of my numbers from my annual exam were too high and receiving those results at 26 years old is scary. I was in a bad place. I had to make a lifestyle and mindset change.

I started training four days a week in April 2019 with LifeStart trainer, Jamie Clark. I also made it a point to be mindful of the foods I was eating. Not just a diet, but a lifestyle change. It was hard and challenged me tremendously. It still is hard, but it gets easier everyday. I set a goal to see the scale under 200 pounds.

February 22, 2020 I finally reached it! My blood work is now normal, my anxiety has decreased immensely, while my confidence is higher than ever and my energy levels have increased.

If you need a change it starts with you! You are the only one who can do it for you. Start small and keep going. Small changes lead to big results over time!

Here’s to new goals and continuing to better myself!
David V.
I have been able to lower my cholesterol by 60 points since my last blood work one year ago, as well as blood pressure as well as losing 35 pounds since April!
My ongoing success story with LifeStart started with my assessment. It was an eye opener for me, I would highly encourage everyone to do it. As scary as it was for me it was the best decision I made for my health and general well being.

Since I started personal training three times a week in April this year I have had trainers who have motivated and inspired me to push ahead.

With nutritional improvements, three personal training sessions a week, as well as training on my own using their advice I have been able to lower my cholesterol by 60 points since my last blood work one year ago, as well as blood pressure as well as losing 40 pounds since last April!

My journey continues but with the help of my LifeStart trainer I'm sure they'll continue to keep me on the right path.
Rick M.
In the last three years, I have lost over 50 pounds! My doctors have either lowered my medications or have discontinued them altogether.
I started at LifeStart Fitness about six years ago. I was in my 50's and on several medications due to the fact that I was terribly overweight and grossly out of shape. At first I started trying to do exercises on my own for a couple of years, but made no progress.

About four years ago, Katie began as our General Manager of the fitness center. She started to lead the morning boot camp and all our worlds changed! I was starting to finally see results. The weight was falling off and I was feeling so much better. The rest of the staff also took an interest in helping my success as well. When I plateaued in my weight loss, they all encouraged me to keep at it.

Now, I am happy that I did. In the last three years, I have lost over 50 pounds! My doctors have either lowered my medications or have discontinued them altogether. My daughter was married this May and I was able to walk her down the aisle in the best physical shape that I have been in for a very long time. I know that I still have about 15 pounds to lose and my health and fitness journey is far from over. But I also know with the help and encouragement that I receive from the staff, and the guidance I get from Katie, I will be able to meet my goals.

Dee C.
Now, I cannot imagine letting a week go by without working out. I didn't think I could feel this good!
My LifeStart gym opened in March of 2019 and has been a life changer for me. I have complex-PTSD and working out is essential for my mental health. I hadn't worked out in a long time due to lack of funds and time, so I was not in a good place mentally when I first met with Meredith, our General Manager and Personal Trainer.

Meredith has helped me more than she could know. I have physical goals and am working out regularly. My body feels good and has changed so much. She is now helping me "climb my mountain". In October of this year, I run the Tough Mudder 5K! My first run ever! I'm also down 15 pounds from when I started! Now, I cannot imagine letting a week go by without working out. I didn't think I could feel this good!

The hard work has paid off, I feel better than I have in years! Cheers to LifeStart, it certainly feels like my life's start!
Ania Z.
My story goes to show that if you are full-time mom, full-time employee and full-time wife, being fit is still possible!
Before I became a mom, being physically active was very important to me. It made me feel good and kept me healthy. Once I had my first baby, my workout routine was not a priority anymore. By the time I had few moments for myself in the evening I was so tired, that exercising was the last thing I wanted to do. After I had another baby and I got even more busy and tired. I struggled to go back to my workout routine for the last 10 years. I started experiencing health issues and back pain I decided that it was time to finally start taking care of myself.

I originally signed up to a commercial health club but the money that I spent for membership was a waste. I bought a "total gym" machine to exercise at home but it was challenging to motivate myself. I lost hope until I met Kayla at my Lifestart gym. She helped me get back into my routine. She showed me support even when I struggled with feeling tired or not having enough time to come to the gym. I am fit again and feel great.

I spend about 45 minutes in the gym every other day and it is exactly what I need to recharge my batteries, and have energy for my kids. It helps me feel good about myself, be a better mom, employee and person. Something that I thought was impossible for me. I was able to achieve this with help and encouragement from LifeStart and my great coach, Kayla!

My story goes to show that if you are full-time mom, full-time employee and full-time wife, being fit is still possible!
Richard C.
LifeStart gave me my jump start on my health and personal goals I never thought possible.
Ever since enrolling in LifeStart, the friendly staff at 350 N. has motivated me to get back to the fitness level I was at back in the military. The group exercise classes are made to push you, and there is no shortage of challenges or unique workouts incorporated! But along with the challenge comes a lot of positive reinforcement. I come downstairs from work for workouts and have since created a regiment outside of work in preparation for a 10K and eventually a half marathon in 2020. LifeStart gave me my jump start on my health and personal goals I never thought possible. If you are seeking to improve or even reinvent yourself, I highly recommend starting your journey here!
Heidi T.
My trainer did an assessment and crafted workouts that not only took into account my issues but focused on trying to do something about them.
After two kids, two ankle surgeries and a labral tear surgery on my hip, I had become less and less active. The result was extra weight, significantly less mobility and sometimes severe arthritis pain in my shoulders and hip. At the encouragement of my physical therapist, I signed up to work with one of the LifeStart trainers, Veronica. Since the sessions are 30 minutes, I was able to fit them into an otherwise crazy schedule! My trainer did an assessment and crafted workouts that not only took into account my issues but focused on trying to do something about them.

Fast forward several months and I am now able to lift my arms above my head without pain! My legs are getting stronger and the pain in in my hip is decreasing. I have been able to resume a full training schedule in Figure skating! Veronica has helped me craft a workout that focuses on how to improve strength and balance in figure skating as well as other areas of life.
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!