There is nothing like it in the western suburbsâ€"a health club specifically for men. Frankly Fitness in Brookfield offers a brief intense workout that enables busy males to complete their exercise regimen in a fraction of the time it normally takes. Unlike the coed health club chains, Frankly Fitness is a no-frills facility, where the emphasis is strictly on exercise.
The concept behind Frankly Fitness is similar to a certain chain of women's health clubs, in fact there's a Curves right across the street. Frank Randazzo, one of the partners in Frankly Fitness, acknowledged that his wife Kimberly works out at Curves.
That club has been very friendly to Frankly Fitness, in terms of referring clients. The clubs have such a good relationship, Randazzo knows of five couples that work out simultaneously at the two facilities. Curves uses air resistance machines, though, and Randazzo wanted to offer men a more intensive workout.
To achieve this, he and his partner Frank Kvasnicka purchased top-of-the-line Lifefitness machines. They work on a pulley system, so there are no mishaps with free weights.
"Who needs this type of workout more than men?" Randazzo asked rhetorically. "This is not a cheesy half hour workout."
There are 17 exercise stations in the club and members make two circuits around the machines in 30 minutes. This being a very manly atmosphere, a boxing bell signals the move to the next station and a hockey buzzer starts the 45-second exercise period. The club's choice of music is also distinctively masculine, with 1980s heavy metal pulsating through the speakers.
The music helps keep the members spirits up during their challenging workout.
"You have to keep moving from station to station," Randazzo said, "It's very fatiguing, but it builds up stamina."
Although there are cardio benefits to the workout, Frankly Fitness does not offer treadmills or exercise bikes.
"Everyone's got one of those at home," Randazzo said dismissively, "And they're hanging laundry on it."
When the boxing bell rings to start the workout, the first station, appropriately enough, is a heavy bag. After pounding the bag for 45 seconds, the member moves to the shoulder press. "There's no waiting in line, no down time," Randazzo said. "And we work out every muscle group."
Indeed, there's a chest press, leg extension, lat pull down, calf raise and triceps extension. In addition to the high-tech pulley machines, members encounter such low-tech devices as a medicine ball and exercise ball.
Randazzo said he was motivated to start Frankly Fitness, because he was looking for a place to work out. He discussed the idea with Kvasnicka, whom he had first met in the weight room at Morton West High School in Berwyn.
They were members of the high school's "800 Club," which required them to perform three lifts that totaled 800 pounds. Randazzo was a multi-sport athlete in high school, playing basketball, baseball and volleyball. He still competes in softball and has toyed with the idea of fielding a team made up of Frankly Fitness members.
So far, the club has 50 members and some of their testimonials have been posted at the club's entrance.
"Awesome! Hurts to write!" crowed Alex Garesche.
"A great workout. I have been here 45 times, enough said," was John Warman's comment. Joseph Kulaga added that the club was convenient, had a friendly environment and offered quality machines.
Frankly Fitness's location on Grand Boulevard in downtown Brookfield certainly makes it convenient for members. There is plenty of parking on Grand Boulevard, and it's not far from the train station. After they finish their workout, some members repair to one of Brookfield's local eateries. Or they meet up with their spouses across the street at Curves.
Besides location, another drawing card for the club is its reasonable cost. There is no initiation fee and members can join for as low as $25.00 per month. A one-year membership costs $300 in advance. Randazzo said they attract a wide range of ages, from 16 to 69 and he offers special rates for father-son combinations and high school and college students.
Once a month the club conducts a raffle, where a member can win the kind of product men prize mostâ€"electronics. And, to add a little comfort to the no-frills atmosphere, there's bottled water, towels and T-shirts available. The club also provides clipboards, where members can record the weights they lifted, to chart their progress on the exercise circuit. One of the beauties of the Frankly Fitness system is that members choose their own intensity level.
The club is housed in a former meat market at 3731 Grand Blvd. The partners retained the old-fashioned charm of the storefront by keeping the tin ceiling. The club has no less than six wall clocks but surprisingly few mirrors for a health club. Frankly Fitness doesn't attract guys who want to waste time gazing at their reflections.
The club's hours are Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and it reopens evenings from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturdays it's open from 7 a.m. to noon. For information on this unique workout experience, call (708) 485-5197. Frankly Fitness may be the only club of its kind in this area but the two Franks might soon be part of a national trend. Randazzo heard that a national chain called Cuts is taking the Curves approach to men's fitness. Randazzo already sees a flaw in the franchiseâ€"c'mon air resistance machines for men?