There is a good chance that you have been to the gym in the past few weeks. Or at least, joined one. It’s the time of year for the ‘new year’s resolution rush’ – lots of bright, shiny faces ready to tackle their goal of getting in shape…for a few weeks anyway.
Two things that we may not take into consideration when we hit the gym in January: the value of our time and the importance of having fun. Time is our most precious commodity and making sure you are using it efficiently at the gym is crucial. And if our gym sessions are not fun, it’s very unlikely that we’ll want to keep going.
These are two things that Ross Oberlin, Owner and Head Trainer at RC Training & Fitness in Oak Park, understands very well. Those pain points are what he has built his business around. Today we’ll talk to him and learn about how he got to where he is, what inspires him, why he thinks you should stop “working out”, how to keep your fitness goals and much more!
Around Oak Park
Today you are the Owner and Head Trainer at RC Training & Fitness Oak Park. What brought you to where you are now?
In high school, I wasn’t the most talented wrestler, but by reading and researching real Strength & Conditioning methods (NOT the stuff in an issue of Men’s Health), I was a successful Varsity wrestler by my Senior year. My teammates took notice of how much I had improved and began coming to me for advice. It was then that I realized teaching other people how to train properly was the perfect intersection of my talents and passions. That was 13 years ago. I still love what I do.
When I really decided to make opening this gym a reality, I was working at a local, big-box commercial gym. I’m grateful for my ability to develop and learn there, but soon, I had outgrown the place. I didn’t want to work at a gym where the goal was to see each member only once: when they sign up for their membership. The person that pays each month but never shows up is considered the ideal member. That really struck a nerve with me. Especially because this is something that can literally save someone’s life.
Maya Angelou’s quote nicely sums up my decision to open this gym: “When you know better, do better.”
I wanted to provide this community with a gym where they could learn how to train properly. Where they could improve their life. And where they could get elite coaching they can trust in. We’ve made semi-private Personal Training our main service because the reduced price from 1-on-1 training makes it accessible to a much larger percent of the community. That was important to us.
You mentioned semi-private Personal Training. What is that exactly?
Essentially, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s still Personal Training but in a small-group setting. A Trainer oversees the entire session and provides coaching and instruction. Each member has been individually assessed and is on their own customized program designed to reach their unique goals.
It’s our most popular option, and for good reason: you get the great camaraderie of a group setting, you receive elite coaching & programming, and it costs less than 1/3 of what you’d pay for 1-on-1 Personal Training.
Our new members love this option. So many people are looking for guidance with their training, but an impersonal, crowded group class with no proper instruction, or an overpriced 1-on-1 trainer with questionable credentials used to be the only options. We’re simply listening to this community, and providing them with an option that they’ve been demanding for a long time.
What do you enjoy doing when not at the gym?
During the day, if I’m not at the gym (which I usually am), I’m probably walking my dog, Moose, around town. We love exploring different neighborhoods, from the arts district to the Frank Lloyd Wright homes.
When I’m not there, I’m spending time with my lovely wife, who is due with our first child in a month. We love to get outside, so once the warm weather hits, we’ll be taking the baby for plenty of hikes!
Why did you choose Oak Park as the home for RC Training & Fitness?
We chose Oak Park because we’re a part of this community and love this community. We’re not some franchise coming in because this area is a “good market”. We chose Oak Park because we care about the people here and wanted to provide them with a better option than what was available.
My wife and I spent 4 years living in Oak Park. We loved the sense of community, and how many local businesses had support here. We always make a point to “vote with our dollars” and spend our money at local businesses, whenever possible.
This past summer, we moved to Elmhurst to be closer to my older brother, who has Down Syndrome. It’s been great being able to see him so much. We have plans to move back to Oak Park in the future, as it holds a special place in our heart.
How would you explain your ‘mission statement’ in two minutes?
Fitness has intentionally been made overly complicated. All of this misinformation has confused us about what matters and what doesn’t. You’ve been made to feel powerless, and unless you give them 3 easy payments, you won’t be given the secret to finally getting fit.
At RC Training & Fitness, we don’t hold anything back.
You won’t spend an hour on the elliptical because you don’t know what else to do (for the record, we don’t even have elliptical machines). Every minute you spend training at our gym will help you reach your goals. Because we handle all of your programming, you won’t have to thumb through all of the aforementioned misinformation to try and come up with a halfway decent routine. We’re saving you time, both in eliminating the need to plan your own programming and in ensuring that half of your “workout” isn’t a total waste.
Our tagline is “Stop Working Out. Start Training.” That’s because we don’t believe in just showing up and ‘doing some stuff’. We believe in having a plan and attacking it with energy and excitement. That’s training. That’s what we do here, and we’d love to have you join us.
What inspires you?
My older brother, Eric, who has Down Syndrome, and every Special Olympics athlete I’ve ever had the honor of working with. They’ve taught me how much of our life is subjective. Meaning, we can choose how to perceive our existence. My brother and so many of his friends choose to make their existence a happy and positive one. He’s the best role model I could have ever asked for. My parents, younger brother, wife, extended family, and friends are lucky to know him.
Special Olympics has meant so much to my life. In the coming months, we’ll be working on developing an S.O. Powerlifting team that would train out of our gym. If you’d like to get involved, please e-mail me: email@example.com
Any tips for us looking to succeed with our New Year’s resolutions?
It’s recently become popular for Fitness personalities to talk about “you don’t need a New Year! You don’t even need a Monday! You just need a new you!” And they ARE right. There are no rules regarding when you can get started on the path towards being fit and healthy.
But you’d have to be a fool to not acknowledge that there’s something special about this time of year. A chance to take advantage of the calm that comes after the holidays. The opportunity to build new routines into our life as the cold weather limits our spontaneity. If you’re feeling like now is the time, then now is the time!
The biggest mistake I see people make is looking at someone else who is fit, and then trying to take up whatever practice that person is involved in. Whether it’s running, pilates, barre, yoga, weightlifting, or even Jai alai, you’re not going to be successful unless you enjoy that activity yourself.
You ought to consider: is that person fit because they do that activity, or can they do that activity simply because they’re fit? Usually, it’s the latter, but this distinction is manipulated to take advantage of your good intentions.
Running is cheap and accessible, but if you don’t like running, then don’t run! There are enough other good options, one of which you’ll probably like more than running!
Take some time, really think about something active that you’d like to start doing. Don’t worry about how many ‘calories it burns’, if it puts you in your ‘target heart rate’, or if it gives you a ‘great pump’.
It’s a boring concept, but consistency is key. If it’s fun, if you enjoy it, if it keeps you coming back, great! There’s no reason your training and fitness shouldn’t be fun. Successful people are true to themselves, and choose things that they enjoy, damn what anyone else may think!
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
The first thing I do each morning- drink a glass of water, and go through a “five-minute flow.” For five minutes, I’ll just continually move my body. That might include squatting, rolling, rocking, twisting, and more. It’s completely unrehearsed.
We often look at kids and marvel at how mobile they are. What we fail to realize is that the kids aren’t flexible because they’re young. They’re flexible because they’re constantly exploring all their ranges of motion.
Consistent, deliberate practice goes a long way. Even when it’s just five minutes each morning.
You definitely have a lot going on. How do you stay organized? Any tips?
I honestly have no idea. Ask my wife. None of this would be possible without her help and support.
How would your friends describe you in three words?
Curious. Passionate. Loyal.
One last question! Anything coming up at RC Training & Fitness that we should know about?
In the coming months, we’ll be offering a 4-week Kettlebell Boot Camp. The group will train twice per week, and at the end of the Boot Camp, each member will be given a Kettlebell to take home and continue their training with!
We would run it sooner, but my wife is due in mid-February. While we have additional staff set to cover our usual training sessions, I am the only Strong First certified Kettlebell instructor in the Oak Park area. That’s why I will personally oversee the group.
If you’d like to be put on the list for this group, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To reach your fitness goals and have fun doing it and/or to get in touch with Ross, visit:
RC Training & Fitness
248 Madison Street
Oak Park, Illinois