Two years ago, Craig Garkie took over as the owner of Lake Forest’s Fitness Together, one of the area’s finest private one-on-one personal training studios. He had been with the studio since 2011, and had zero concerns on taking on the responsibility of owning the gym because he knows their approach to fitness and wellness works.
“Our main focus is wellness management. We are a private personal training studio, and we do strength training and cardio training, but our main goal is to improve the overall health for our clients,” he says.
Fitness Together has six total trainers, including Garkie. They all studied exercise science, kinesiology, or pre-medicine in school, and they’re all highly talented personal trainers who understand strength, conditioning, and nutrition. The gym is open six days a week, from 5:45 a.m. to 9 p.m., except on Saturdays, when it closes around 3 p.m.
Before joining Fitness Together, Garkie trained athletes. But once he started personal training at the studio, he realized he finds the most fulfillment in helping a broad range of people achieve their individual visions of health and wellness in their everyday lives.
“Most of our people are between the ages of 35 to 65, and many are women who have kids in grade school and middle school. They are trying to learn how to balance taking care of themselves and their families. They need to come first more often. When you think about it, it’s kind of selfish to not take care of yourself.”
What “healthy” is, though, is different for every person and depends on their goals. “When a client first comes in, we sit down and have a one-on-one talk. This is what they miss a lot at other gyms. There, you come in, you sign a contract, then you go off on your own. Here, we sit down together, and create expectations of each other. They have expectations of me, then I explain what I expect of them.
“From the start, we have to crack into why you got out of shape in the first place. What are the ailments, or the psychological barriers? That’s the first part usually: needing to be coached in your overall mindset. Nobody wakes up and says I want to be 50 pounds overweight. Something is wrong, and they need to figure it out with the right support system,” he says.
Garkie and his personal training staff serve as a key part of that support system. Most clients at the gym visit about three times a week—that’s what Garkie recommends is the minimum he needs to help a client achieve their goals. In addition to strength and cardio training, Fitness Together’s trainers also help clients create meal plans.
“I wish that exercise was more of it, but nutrition is 70 to 80 percent of the solution. It’s the most important part. There’s no fad diet. There’s no magic pill. It’s the combination of hard work and a realistic eating lifestyle that works,” he says.
“We build a food plan together. You tell me the things you like and are willing to eat, and we’ll create a menu plan. Everything in moderation, even moderation. That’s kind of my motto,” he says.
For many clients, the goal is to try and lose between two to three pounds a week, but he’s less focused on the scale, and more focused on body measurements taken each week—and the goal is create a plan that can work over time, and that a person can realistically stick with, week in and week out.
“It’s a slow process, and change is gradual. We’re going to hit the grounding running, but we’ll do it so it’s realistic, but it takes time and work.”
Garkie says one big misconception people have about personal training is that they can’t afford it. Fitness Together is very reasonable, especially for the focused, personal attention each client gets. They don’t have to have memberships at three different gyms that focus on different types of workouts, plus pay for nutrition planning. They get it all in one place at Fitness Together.
“I want to help anybody who wants to be helped,” Garkie says.
Fitness Together is located at 225 E. Deerpath Road, Suite 126, in Lake Forest. 847-283-6060, fitnesstogether.com/lakeforest.