Name Of Gym: USA Gym, Inc.
Name Of Owner: Chuck Sanow
Square Feet: 8000
Website Address: http://www.usagyminc.com
Hours Of Operation:
Sunday: 6:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Monday: 5:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Tuesday: 6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Wednesday: 6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Thursday: 6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Friday: 5:30 AM - 10:00 PM
Saturday: 6:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Open 365 days a year with reduced hours on some major holidays.
Number Of Trainers On Staff: 4
[ Q ] How did the gym start, and why did you decide to begin (or work within) the gym business?
The gym was started in 1986 by me and a friend of mine, Pete Ignell. We started the gym because my friend Pete had the money, and I had a name in bodybuilding. We wanted to create a hard core gym atmosphere, and there wasn't any other gym out there quite the way we wanted it to be. The gyms in the area at that time were slipping, and we wanted to put out a better product and a better place to train.
We wanted a place that was open on time and had good equipment for those of us who were serious about training. Many of the gyms back then were Mom and Pop run gyms, and things didn't get taken care of that well. We wanted a real gym where you could train hard, slam the plates, use chalk and play loud rock and roll music.
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We Wanted A Gym Where You Could Train Hard, Slam
The Plates, Use Chalk And Play Loud Music.
[ Q ] Can you give us a description of what went into opening your awesome establishment?
A lot of time and effort went into opening USA Gym. We had limited money to start, so we built a lot of the basic equipment ourselves. We made our own benches, squat racks, power racks and lat pull downs and we bought the things we couldn't make. Then as we started to get more members and other gyms went out of business, we bought up their equipment. When we started, we didn't really have a plan other than to open up the doors, provide a better service, and figured members would come.
[ Q ] What makes your gym different?
Longevity. We've been around a long time and haven't really changed anything. USA Gym is a "throw back" gym, other than the computer we use to check people in today, we've resisted civilization.
[ Q ] What sort of people do you attract to your gym?
People that are serious and what it takes to get results and make improvements. They are not paying for the neon lights and rock climbing wall and pool. They are here to lift and get their bodies in shape.
[ Q ] What inspires people to train at your facility?
Pretty much the atmosphere. The Wall of Fame has photos of a number of people, famous and not so famous, which have trained here at USA Gym and won bodybuilding, fitness and figure competitions. People who train here are inspired by seeing the photos of the famous bodybuilders who have been through here and trained here.
A lot of them see the pictures of the more famous bodybuilding stars and are probably thinking to themselves, "Wow, Jay Cutler might have trained on this piece of equipment". The good news is that at our gym you don't have to wait for someone who's busy on a cell phone to get to a piece of equipment like you would in other gyms because our members are serious about working out and getting the job done.
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The Wall Of Fame Has Photos Of A Number
Of People Who Have Trained Here At USA Gym.
[ Q ] Do you have any top trainers and why are they so good?
We have trainers who are NPC judges and have been in the sport for years. They have a lot of experience in bodybuilding and nutrition in the real world. They are not the kind of trainers who were certified by punching keys on a computer and guessing how to train someone. They know what the real requirements are to get to competition level and also what to realistically expect from someone.
At USA Gym, we can't afford to be sloppy about our training and risk our reputation; we have to be good. Trainers like
Valerie Tinsley, Maurice Black, Michelle Bain and myself are people who have competed or who have been around the bodybuilding world a long time and know what they are doing.
[ Q ] What special services do you provide?
The best services we provide to our members are results. You need a gym that has good equipment to succeed. All the rest of the stuff at other gyms is a distraction. We're not about fluff, we're not about comfort, but we are about results. We also offer all of the services for those serious about bodybuilding like nutrition counseling, contest preparation, and posing coaching.
[ Q ] Who are your most notable present and past members?
We've had a number of top level NPC competitors who have all trained here at one time or another. Too many to mention, like
Mike Francois, Oliver Gibson, former NFL player, Dan Plesac who used to play with the Chicago White Sox.
As far as members go, we're the top gym in the State of Illinois with the most members winning NPC shows. So we've got a lot of outstanding members. What's different about USA Gym is that we work together to put the best bodies on stage that we can.
[ Q ] What is the hardest part about operating your gym?
Staying in business in a rough economy is the biggest challenge.. With all the corporate gyms around us, it is hard to stand out. But we've got a great niche, and the type of people who become members of USA Gym and train here do it because they recognize the value of being a part of a great gym.
[ Q ] What makes your gym competitive over the other gym chains?
Beside the hardcore atmosphere, good music, mix of older and newer equipment is the fact that when you come in the door as a member, someone knows your name. Someone is always there to say hello. It's like a family here. Whereas, with the big gyms, the only time they know your name is when your membership is about to expire. We offer our members a great value on membership, in addition to the fact that you are not just a number when you walk in the door.
[ Q ] How have you been able to remain so successful, and how do you hope to remain so?
We'll remain successful because we put an excellent product out there as USA Gym. We offer a great alternative to chain clubs for our members. We're a hardcore gym, and it's not going to change. And that really is what a lot of people are looking for and want these days. And when you come to USA Gym, it's for real. It's not fake; it's not leotards and neon lights. We're hardcore. We have rubber floors, stainless steel diamond plate walls, lots of iron and an industrial look. What you see is what you get.
If you want to support a Mom and Pop hardcore gym instead of a health club/fitness center, you're always going to get better results. With the independent gyms there is a personal touch, and the people who work there really take pride in their gym.
Nine times out of ten when you are at an independent gym, you are dealing with the owner. You're not dealing with some kid who works there and doesn't care because that is his weekend job. With a hardcore place like USA Gym, you get real knowledge about training, bodybuilding and what it takes to win. At our gym, you get over 30 years of real world knowledge. And that is something you won't get at most larger gyms, especially if you want to compete.
If you are ever in the Chicago area, come check out USA Gym and find out for yourself. I bet you'll walk away wishing you had a gym like ours in your area, if you don't already have one.
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