A local fitness facility uses science to create custom health plans.
What if you could workout twice a week and experience the same outcomes as working out five times a week? That’s the American dream, says former professional bodybuilder Greg Hachaj, who in combination with a diverse team developed a personal training facility incorporating science.
GhFitlab, located in Glenview and Bucktown, aims to empower clients through personal training focusing on the individual. After 10 years of bodybuilding, Mr. Hachaj realized that his focus on increasingly building muscle rendered him unhealthy. In his process of becoming healthy using years of knowledge, he developed the GhMethod, a program focusing on health longevity.
Venture capitalist Mark Grazman went through the GhMethod after having chronic back pain. With Mr. Hachaj, he pulled together a research team for the program, and later brought in psychologist Robert Uri Heller, PhD, who is now a director of health intelligence with GhFitlab.
Currently, the program has both male and female coaches. Female coaches Erin Ekeberg and Jelena Manojlovic both work at the Glenview location. After moving to Chicago with her family, Jelena, who also works at the Bucktown location, began considering ways to incorporate her passion for fitness with a career aimed at assisting people attain their goals. She earned a undergraduate degree in communication and disorders before joining GhFitlab.
Normally, the program works over the course of about 12 weeks. First, a client has to willingly come in and discuss what he or she is looking for. During this “Change Your Mind Session”, the client will have an experience with one of the coaches and receive an overview of the program.
After that session, the client receives a health intelligence assessment, which allows GhFitlab to essentially know the person before beginning the program. Rather than leaving the program up to chance, Mr. Grazman says that knowing the client allows them to know what language to use, the types of strengths and challenges that may arise and really customize the program to fit the client’s individual needs.
In the first four weeks, GhFitlab takes measurements largely during the workout session to maximize the time clients have with the lab. Two of the measurements done outside the workout session are for flexibility and risks, which Athletico Physical Therapy does. In week four or five, the client will have a health intelligence meeting, where their strengths, obstacles and important health intelligence elements are analyzed and discussed. Goals are also rediscussed at this time.
After about 12 weeks, data, which has been continually collected each session, is reviewed, allowing clients to see the changes that took place over the 12 weeks. All of this sounded reasonable to me, so I ventured to the Glenview facility to get a taste of this experience myself.
Before I arrived, I was asked to fill out two surveys to assess my health intelligence and lifestyle. Usually these surveys are distributed later into the process but in order to give me a sense of the full experience I completed the surveys ahead of time, sending them in early for my trainer to know how to work with me. It was scary how accurate the surveys’ results were.
Mr. Grazman knew me from my survey, probably better than most people. My survey showed my strengths were determination, persistence and commitment to action, meaning that I’m largely self-motivated and goals have to originate with me. My assessment also predicted quite accurately that I like intensity with my workouts, so my coach would also have to be aware of managing my intensity.
But with all of those strengths came some challenges such as sustainability. Continually aiming for intensity could eventually lead me to burnout or at worst injure myself somewhere down the line. With this and an explanation of the Gh Method, I was sent for a brief session with Mr. Hachaj. He had me do several exercises, asking me to show him how I’d normally do the exercises, then he would correct me and walk me through the right process a second time.
The experience that spoke most to the program’s accuracy for me was the sit-up exercise, in which Mr. Hachaj asked me to do ten sit-ups normally. He asked me what I felt after the exercise, and my answer was nothing. “I feel nothing.” This response led Mr. Hachaj, who had been a congenial spirit throughout my mini training session, to laugh. He said this message should be shared, that I could do a rep of ten sit-ups and feel nothing, and then had me do the sit-ups, using his instruction.
At the end of the workout, Mr. Hachaj talked to me about how misled some people were about fitness, referencing diets, which he said always fail as you lose a certain amount of weight only to gain more than you lost later. He also explained how he used certain language with me, such as continually telling me I was in control, to accommodate my personality with the training.
Mr. Grazman had spoke of these strengths and customization before my session with Mr. Hachaj. “Often times our strengths are our weaknesses, and so we can have complicated emotions about that,” he says. “When we (GhFitlab) can help somebody…use their strengths and recognize how to navigate around the pitfalls, it’s really meaningful, and that’s why we are so committed and excited about what we’re doing.”
From my experience at GhFitlab, I got a glimpse of their mission and can see how this would work. The facility boasts of a near perfect success rate, which makes sense Mr. Grazman says because of the customization and continued adjustment the team of researchers and coaches do each week for each client.
By Bailey Williams