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Chicago Primal Gym to Open in Lakeview with Focus on Return to Basics

By Serena Dai | November 12, 2013 8:14am
 Chicago Primal Gym offers group classes. Here, some of owner Sean Griffin's clients work in a makeshift setting.
Chicago Primal Gym offers group classes. Here, some of owner Sean Griffin's clients work in a makeshift setting.
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Facebook/Chicago Primal

LAKEVIEW — A new gym opening up in Lakeview wants to bring busy Chicagoans back to the basics — sunshine, movement and a local meat-and-veggie-focused diet. 

Chicago Primal Gym, 3240 N. Sheffield Ave., plans to open to the public this week, said Sean Griffin, the gym's owner.

Griffin, 27, is a former finance guy who left the world of crunching numbers at desks in hopes of helping people pursue holistically healthier lifestyles through fitness and food. The Indianapolis native worked in California, where he first became immersed in a progressive fitness and health culture.

He moved to Lincoln Park more than two years ago and started interning at gyms like Athletic Edge Sports Performance in Evergreen Park and Loyola University's strength and conditioning department. Griffin also worked for the Green City Market, where he connected with local farmers. 

The two connected.

"When I brought together the types of training I'd been doing and eating local foods and caring about what went into my body, I started noticing substantial results," he said. "It was one of the things I wanted to share with other people."

His new gym is based on the "primal lifestyle" — a combination of the paleo diet, exercise and life habits based around returning to a simpler way of life. 

The classes themselves focus on movement in both small group classes, which max out at 10 people, and semi-private lessons, which have up to four people. Griffin assesses the needs of each person, and the classes become a combination of group and individual work with kettle bells, barbells and conditioning tools like rowers and jump ropes. 

He will also offer other types of exercise such as yoga and stretching classes. The ultimate aim is for body conditioning, strength training and body weight movement, he said. 

"First and foremost, it’s keeping people moving in a way that’s sustainable," he said. 

Group classes cost $130 to $200 a month, depending on how often a client attends. Semi-private classes cost $260 to $400 a month, also depending on the number of classes. The first 30 people who join the gym can receive a year of group training, three times a week, for $129 a month, he said.

New clients also get their first week of group classes for free as part of a trial offer.

People interested in living "primally" for food have an option from Griffin, too. Chicago Primal selected a package with Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks for $86 that includes meats and veggies that add up to about a week's worth of dinner food.

The package, which includes ground beef, chicken thighs, eggs and veggies, can be home-delivered weekly. Griffin doesn't require clients to sign up for the food, but it's a recommendation that can help with holistic health, he said.

He realizes people in the city are busy, he said. The fast-pace and energy is great, but Griffin wants people to realize there are ways to be healthier in return to simpler times, when people ate fewer toxins, sat less and moved more, he said.

"I want to make it easy for people to see there is a simple way to bring those things back into their lives," he said.