Atlas is very involved in the Chicago community. Can you touch on some of the programs you’re implementing?
The biggest one is through the Noble Network of Charter Schools system here and the advanced education program we’re using with their instructors to increase the quality of life of their students, improve their grades via sports and physical fitness, and then the social aspect of it. It’s an easy fit. We compressed sessions into about six 90-minute periods where we put the school’s teachers and sports coaches through our curriculum, and that’s been a big way that we’ve been able to impact and kind of “coach the coach” so that they can pay it forward to their kids. It’s a great way to start getting fitness and CrossFit out to kids throughout the city schools of Chicago.
So you’re trying to reach as many students as possible through PE classes and sports teams?
We’re helping from a lot of different fronts. We’re helping their coaches for phys-ed classes in which CrossFit is becoming part of the curriculum at the Noble charter schools. The coach is then taking the lesson and specializing it to what his or her sports teams need. So we give them the freedom to apply things that they’ve learned over their careers as PE teachers, athletes and coaches and letting them take that and fit it into their mold. That way, it’s a fairly pliable system, and it’s a system where anyone can come in and feel like they can hit the ground running and use it for whatever sport or endeavor they’re using with the kids.
And it’s made a positive impact on the students’ lives?
Absolutely. We can make this fun. We can make it engaging. We can get it to where the kids are competing with each other and letting loose. I think that’s been the biggest impact of us being on-site with them. A lot of kids coming to these schools may be underprivileged. They might be from a lower socioeconomic class. And now maybe they go off to college and they immediately, via CrossFit, have a social network that they can tap into. There’s more to it than just getting physically fit or being a good athlete. It’s kids feeling like they can belong and they’re part of something bigger than themselves. And it’s like, right on, let’s push that every avenue we can.
Atlas Performance isn’t just a CrossFit gym. How do you balance the CrossFit from the non-CrossFit training?
We started out strictly CrossFit back in 2009. My background is more in team sports [Gizzi is a former NFL player], and I immediately gravitated to CrossFit. But I also started putting my own spin on stuff to get people to stay in the gym — not just from a business standpoint but also to build a community that’s stout and robust and has a lot of variety. So for the most part, CrossFit is the headline of what we do, and we want everyone to engage in that no matter how often they’re doing it. We also have a general circuit-training class that’s a little less demanding but still a necessary type of class for people who are deconditioned or are just coming back in. We have a typical TRX class that people like a lot and that works the body in a very unique way. And then the class that’s kind of been my pride and joy is called Fit360, which is pretty much a sports-performance training mindset put into an hour-class format. So people can come in and hit different classes throughout the week and get a variety of training that’s always changing and evolving. This model has been good for a gym and as a business, but it’s also how I work out, so I want others to have that same benefit.
Locations: 1030 N. Larrabee St., Chicago, IL 60610
Number of members: 300
Number of Coaches: 20 (5 full time and 15 part time)
Years in Operation: 4
Facility Size: 610,000 square feet
Membership Fees: $225 per month; discounts apply for prepaying for six or 12 months — $1,200 for six months, $2,100 for 12 months
More Information: AtlasPerformanceChicago.com