Cardio. A word that is both loved and hated. Some people - for better or for worse - can't get enough, and others want nothing to do with it. But when it comes to physical fitness and maintaining a healthy, muscle-toned body, celebrity personal trainer, Jim Karas believes you can get the best workout for your body by going Cardio Free. I had a chance to stop by Jim Karas Personal Training, located at 2669 North Lincoln Avenue, to try out his brand of Cardio Free workouts. The Cardio Free classes themselves are held just across the street in a brand new studio complete with all the tools needed for a body-boosting workout.
My experience with Cardio Free started with a standard evaluation done for all new Jim Karas clients. The evaluation assessed my overall fitness, including strengths and weaknesses. Brent, the trainer who did the assessment, spent about 45 minutes with me. In that time, he evaluated my form, core strength, posture and just about every other factor that could make or break a good workout.
I wanted the full experience of what Jim Karas had to offer, so I scheduled a Cardio Free Essentials class with Nial a couple days later. Class started at 6:45am. Another class was just finishing up a Cardio Free when I arrived. Everyone was covered in sweat, and it looked like it was a great class. Since I was taking the Essentials class, I knew we weren't going to go all out, but was really interested to see how the class was structured. The class included three other regular Jim Karas clients and me. After loosing up on a foam roller for about five minutes, Nial put us through a good, moderate-pace workout that included a series of bodyweight exercises. All in all, it would be a great starting point for someone looking to grow into a more challenging workout.
I followed up the next day by taking Cardio Free with Brent. I opted for a mid-morning class that started at 9:45. Ready for a higher intensity workout, I was excited to see what class would be like. Brent is a really experienced trainer who understands how the body movesbest. We warmed up for class by doing a lot of hip movements. The hips allow for mobility. If you start working out with tight hips, or if you never take the time to strengthen them, you won't have the movement you need to perform an exercise correctly or safely. In fact, Brent referred to the hips as "the emotional junk box of the body." I suppose this could be true. If you don't know what to do with an emotion, you store it. Why not in the hips?
After about ten minutes loosening up through the major movers, we started getting into the heart of the workout, which included a lot of TRX work, some kettle bell work, as well as plenty offunctional (but challenging) movements, like farmers walks, single leg hops, lunges, push ups and core work. At the end of the workout, Brent had us do some metabolic work that would super-charge our body. This included sprints and heavy rope work, each performed several times back-to-back. My heart rate was through the roof at the end of class - which was part of the objective of the exercises. The class moved non-stop with no rest. Since the workout focused in on different parts of the body through a series of different techniques, it was never boring.
In addition to the new Cardio Free training space that has opened on Lincoln Avenue, Jim Karas Personal Training has opened up a new personal training and Cardio Free studio in Hinsdale, at 350 East Ogden Avenue. To get more information about Jim Karas Personal Training, you can visit www.jimkaras.com, or call 773-244-0123.
Traci D Mitchell is a Chicago-based health and fitness writer and spokesperson. She's on-the-go everywhere trying out new and healthy things with a Chicago appeal. You can reach Traci through ChicagoNow or www.tracidmitchell.com.