Eco Gym in Glenview appeals to healthy body, healthy environment

GLENVIEW — A new exercise facility in Glenview has set in motion a way to capitalize on fitness and environmentalism – two interests that appeal to many suburbanites.

After touring China and Japan for ideas in the fitness business, the founders of Eco Gym designed and built “energy grids” for their gyms. The systems harness electrical power generated from exercise machines to light the facilities.

The owners of Eco Gym, Sonny Benso and his, brother, Michael, visited Tokyo and Shanghai, where they met people who had designed the people-powered energy grids.

“So we designed what we saw over there,” said Sonny, the gym’s general manager, also explaining how the energy grid benefited members.

“The more you work out and generate power, the cheaper our memberships become for an individual,” said Sonny.

Eco Gym located at 2847 Pfingsten Road also uses roof solar panels for added utility power, and a biometric system that allows members to enter the 24-hour facility by scanning their fingerprints.

“I also want to use body and iris scanning. I want us to be very inventive to make this place a privilege to work out in,” Sonny said, adding he was unaware of any other exercise gyms featuring exercise grids.

Sonny, who earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and exercise physiology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, has been an employee of exercise gyms since 16 years old.

“I’ve seen it all, working in gyms and working out. I cleaned floors at a Gold’s Gym,” said Sonny, 28.

“We don’t want our gyms to feel like muscle-head places, but rather where people feel welcome and not intimidated. People feeling like that are more willing to work out, we think.”

Eco Gym also has a facility in Naperville with a third opening in Plainfield in November or December.

Chris Gellings also is a founder of the business.

“With all the technical stuff we have here, we still have a strong value of family among our staff and clientele,” said Laurie Soriano-Locke

director of Eco Marketing.

“We want our clientele to be part of the health and environmental movement.”

Eco Gym also offers personal and child training and an array of exercise machines, weight-lifting equipment and hyperbaric therapy, a method for increasing one’s oxygen intake in a pressurized room.

“It’s oxygen therapy for the body. When you have more oxygen, it increases the red blood cell count. It’s like getting high-grade oil in your body,” Sonny said.

Glenview resident Tracy Sawires joined Eco Gym in March and has a personal trainer. She was attracted to the facility’s “friendly aesthetics” and its staff.

“It feels like a small, private gym in here, and within days the staff knew my first name,” said Sawires, a 1984 graduate of Glenbrook South High School in Glenview.

“The relationship with my trainer, John, is huge for me. I figure I’m on a long path to better health.

“My husband and kids really help me, but it’s good that John is alongside to keep me on that path. He gives me more structure.”

When Sawires joined Eco gym, she weighed 357 pounds and under the workout she needed to lose 175 pounds.

“I’ve lost 40 pounds since coming here, which is at an aggressive pace. Health progression is my main goal,” she said.

“I’ve been gaining weight for 18 years, and in February I started to make dietary changes. It was also time to look into a consistent exercise program.”

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