VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE TODAY!
To vote, click here. Featuring 10 Fitness Influencers to Know throughout the western suburbs. Each is just as passionate, health-driven and ambitious as the next, helping residents to achieve their health, wellness and fitness goals.
We invite you to vote for your favorite featured Fitness Influencer by visiting our facebook page and simply clicking "like" on the photo you love, along with a post telling us why. The Fitness Influencer with the most votes before June 20th at 5pm will win a 6-issue (3 month) advertising package valued at $1,500 to help them to continue to inspire and make a difference in the lives of others.
Jen Hoeft NAPERVILLE– 30 year resident, Jen Hoeft has immersed herself fully into the Naperville community and found her deepest passion along the way.
“About eight years ago, I started taking group fitness classes at Life Time Fitness. The energy in the room was awesome and I realized I wanted to share my passion for fitness with others,” Jen says. “Within a year, I was teaching my first class!”
Jen is a firm believer that if people pursue an active lifestyle, every goal is within reach. Proving this theory, she attained her own goal of achieving The NETA Group Fitness Certification, and thoroughly enjoys teaching a broad array of classes from group fitness to smaller groups in the park via her own business, Jen Hoeft Fitness.
Jen also enjoys creating active memories with her husband and sweet little boys. “I like to spend time with my family discovering new towns, nature trails and playing outside,” Jen says. She also enjoys shopping and going on buying trips to Los Angeles with her mom for Karisma Boutique in Naperville.
Although when not in the gym, it might be hard for Jen to turn down a nice, warm chocolate chip cookie, her commitment and enthusiasm for a healthy lifestyle always keep life in check! -Kristen Kucharski
Jackie Kold ST. CHARLES– From touch football to skateboarding, biking, ballet, and cheerleading, Jackie loved being active since a young age; yet, being born with clubbed feet could have easily deterred her desire.
“It was my dear mom. She’s the one who helped me realize I could be strong even with my feet,” Jackie shares. “She taught me to overcome my disability and mindfully achieve my dreams.”
Jackie was quite young when her 48 year-old mother passed away from cancer; yet, Jackie finds peace in knowing she’s helping others live healthier as the owner of Jackie Kold Fitness and Yoga in St. Charles.
Overcoming life’s challenges is the core of who Jackie is and hard work has paid off earning accolades such as All-Star Awards from Constant Contact for her weekly health newsletter, a YWCA Woman of Distinction recognition; and the honor of carrying the LA Olympic torch across part of the state for a national event. Jackie has also had the pleasure of helping First Lady Hillary Clinton on a forum about educational and health issues for children.
Jackie’s philosophy for life is a total body approach: yoga, meditation and prayer center her day, and combined with fitness, helps her achieve energy, balance and strength. –Kristen Kucharski
Michelle Rae Sobi NAPERVILLE–When all the other Junior High kids were hanging out at McDonalds, Michelle and her best friend thought they were really cool going to the gym every day. Her good ole Uncle Nels and his good ole mood all the time inspired Michelle to view the gym as a means to health, happiness, and a career eventually prompting the opening of Power Edge Yoga and Edge Yoga School in Naperville, and likely launching her nomination for Best CoreXYoga Teaching Training Program at the SCW Fitness Mania Conference last year.
Even though Michelle is a certified Fitness Instructor and owns two fitness centers, she’s still just like the rest of us - and when she puts on a couple extra pounds, from perhaps her faved Snickers bar, it goes right to her arms; but, Michelle is quick to her favorite Barre Yoga Class to tone and slim her guns! She also redeems herself with her beloved nutritious snacks which include overnight mason jars of dried cranberries, coconut, and turmeric, mixed with steel cut oatmeal.
Cardio activities help relieve the stresses of her everyday life, along with relaxing hobbies like painting, riding bikes, and hanging with her two rescue dogs. –Kristen Kucharski
SUGAR GROVE–When she was younger, Rebecca Martin, owner of CrossFit Sugar Grove, wanted what most want, to be lean and muscular. Now that she is in her 40’s, she works out to fight a family history of high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. If she’s in good shape, it’s a side benefit.Although CrossFit is known for its competitions, Rebecca, and her husband, Craig, wanted to create a CrossFit atmosphere where it was more about building a supportive community than the actual exercise component. “My goal was to have a place where people could come together and not feel judged, but instead supported and encouraged by athletes of ALL fitness levels and abilities,” says Rebecca. “After years of moving from one fitness trend to another, I knew I found something that was all encompassing, and I wanted to share it with everybody.”With many credentials in her back pocket, Rebecca is currently working on a Precision Nutrition certification to be able to bring nutrition coaching to her members as well. But it isn’t always all about nutrition, sometimes there’s a little fun as her husband owns his own certification in ice cream eating, holding the record at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil in the ice cream eating contest for three years in a row now! –Mindy Kyle
Dr. Azlan Tariq D.O. NAPERVILLE–After completing medical school in 2008, Dr. Azlan Tariq realized that the health care system was not doing an adequate job in focusing on fitness and prevention. Hence, in 2012, he opened Optimal Health Medical Fitness where they have Physicians, Nutritionist, Physical Therapist, Chiropractor, Personal Trainers, Massage Therapists, and Chinese Medicine Specialist all under the same roof with the goal of providing their patients all the resources to achieve their optimal health.
“I have always been an active athlete,” says Dr. Tariq, “and I want to lead by example for my family and my patients. It takes a unique mix of medically supervised fitness to really round out your health.” His favorite advice for patients, especially those with arthritis, is ‘motion is lotion’ and to keep the body moving. Dr. Tariq is inspired by the progress of his patients whom he has helped through natural pain remedies such as Stem Cell Therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma to reduce reliance on medications and invasive surgical alternatives. He is so confident in his team’s fitness process and patient results, that he offers an unconditional money back guarantee. He is proud to have been awarded the 2016 MedFit Affinity Award for changing how healthcare is delivered. Dr. Tariq lives in Chicago with his wife, Tazeen. They are expecting their first child this May.
Hank Ebeling WHEATON/GENEVA– As the founder and current CEO for H4 Training in Wheaton and Geneva, Hank Ebeling has had the opportunity to help hundreds of clients get in shape. As an athlete growing up, being active has always been a part of his lifestyle, and he is drawn to inspire others to meet their fitness goals.
Along with the many training programs at H4, the gym has a strong social media presence to connect with clients, and the general public. Hank has a bank of tutorial and informational videos on You Tube and Facebook, and is also known to post-up an occasional healthy recipe to try. One of his hopes for the future is an H4 app for those who do not have an H4 gym in their town.
Hank’s own workouts often become training ground to experiment with new routines and exercises. “I love to work out,” says Hank, “and I believe you should practice what you preach. Consistency is KING! You must be consistent both with your workouts and your eating to see long term results.”
Katie Schwartz DOWNERS GROVE/AURORA–Despite sharing a daily bowl of ice cream with her dad growing up, Katie has been passionate about health and fitness ever since she can remember. By her senior year in high school, her aspiration evolved into life choices as she chose two P.E. classes instead of late arrival or early dismissal like most of her peers.
Katie’s commitment advanced into a career and she now helps others achieve their goals at LifeStart located at Esplanade Fitness Center in Downers Grove. She is constantly challenging herself to stay on top of the latest scientific findings in the fitness arena.
As a new mom, she personally understands the ever changing female body. “My abs may never be the same,” Katie laughs. “And I think somehow the baby stole my butt!” Yet, she knows firsthand that there are so many variations of exercise that you can hit the same muscles differently each time, without special equipment - leaving zero excuses to staying fit.
Katie is sure to start each day with nutrient packed smoothies of fruit, veggies, kefir, chia-flax seed blend, almond milk, orange juice and a little protein powder to ward off any cravings and provide enough energy for the day! –Kristen Kucharski
Alex Morris NAPERVILLE–Alex was only 12 years old when she formed the 5K RAGE Against Celiac Disease race and raised $10,000. She was inspired to help fund research towards a cure when she stopped growing and didn’t have much of an appetite, and then diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
At the time, she knew little about the disease, nor anyone at school who had it.
“I decided to do the race because I had to do a service project for my bat-mitzvah, so I combined my love of running with wanting to raise awareness and money for Celiac Disease,” Alex says. Alex starting long distance running during a Cross Country intramurals session in middle school, and hasn’t stopped running since.
Now a sophomore on Naperville North’s track and cross country teams, Alex discovered that two teammates; Megan Driscoll and Haley Glowacki, also had Celiac Disease. Next month, the three are joining forces to have the race again. They hope to show other Celiac sufferers that they don’t have to be limited by their disease and hope to inspire others to join the race to benefit the Celiac Disease Foundation. Visit www.Alex5kRage.org for more information. –Kristen Kucharski
Beth Kolar PLANO–Beth Kolar, owner of Center-Fit Kettlebell Club in Plano and certified coach and personal trainer is also a mother of five adult children and thirteen grandchildren! Eight years ago, when Beth was a photographer, she found that she couldn’t lean sideways to take a picture without shaking, and wasn’t strong enough to pick up her two-year old granddaughter.
“For years, I suffered from degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, asthma and allergies and just couldn’t tolerate exercise – or rather, the recovery,” explains Beth. “But feeling disabled became too much, and I decided to do it anyway!” She cashed in some savings and bought herself 40 personal training sessions, lost 75 pounds over the course of two years and became a BodyCombat instructor.
Last year, Beth had a huge setback when she struggled to fight breast cancer and an infection in the spine that required two emergency lumbar surgeries. Her survival was touch and go while she spent 18 days in ICU. They were afraid she would not walk again. Beth ended up rehabilitating herself and is now teaching and training a full schedule. “I rehabilitated myself the way I teach clients – focus on what’s working, make small improvements on what doesn’t and just keep going.” –Mindy Kyle
Craig Kaufman NAPERVILLE–One of Craig Kaufman’s favorite quotes is “love your life or change it”. He wants to inspire everyone to be the best they can be and make the biggest impact as possible. That requires one to be in great health.
A former MMA fighter, Craig, while training for his fights, stumbled upon a CrossFit Gym and found it was exactly what he needed in terms of strength and conditioning. He felt so strongly about the CrossFit community, he quit his full-time job to start and build CrossFit Resurgence in South Naperville, while still fighting in the cage.
After their second child was born, the fighting got the bump, and he and his wife, Jennifer, focused their fitness passions to run the center together. “What inspired me was the ability to do life together as a family, with an emphasis on being fit and healthy,” says Craig. “We have a ton of families at the gym, and we like to make it a family affair.”
Craig has a true passion for his life and admits to always going 100mph. He is also highly involved in Christian Men’s Groups and assisting members with tools to tackle life’s many stresses. “Now that I’m done getting punched in the face for fun, I like to spend my time with my family and inspiring others.” –Mindy Kyle
Photos by Mike Catuara Unless Otherwise Submitted