NORTH CENTER — Dreading a trip to the personal trainer after over-indulging on Thanksgiving?
That's OK. The taskmasters at Orange Shoe Fitness have a group of devoted regulars who are always happy to see them.
For the past several months, the trainers have been making twice-weekly trips from Orange Shoe's North Center studio to Neumann Family Services in Ravenswood, where they've been running free workouts for the agency's mentally and physically disabled clients.
"Everybody is very grateful," trainer Dennis Pilson said. "It's something they don't normally get to do."
For its efforts, Orange Shoe has been acknowledged by the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce, which recently honored the company with its PLM Corporate Citizenship Award.
"It's been great for us to work with a different population and give back to the community," Orange Shoe owner Wade Anderson said.
The trainers, accustomed to working with healthy, able-bodied clients, had to adjust their routines, drawing inspiration from Special Olympics, according to Bricklin Welch, a UIC student serving an internship with Orange Shoe.
"We'll do three reps of wall push-ups and sit-to-stand exercises," he said. "Their coordination improved a lot."
In addition to physical activity, the trainers also squeeze in anatomy lessons between sets, which provides mental stimulation.
"We'll let them know what muscles we're working on," Anderson said. "We'll say, 'We're doing it for our glutes!'"
Nutrition is another area where the trainers have made inroads at Neumann, recommending things like swapping out soda for water.
"They listen. They're very interested in improving their health," Welch said.
Benefits of the program run both ways.
Neumann "staff would tell us how much of a better mood clients were in after we left," said Anderson.
For trainers, the workouts have been an eye-opener.
Said Pilson: "It gives you a different perspective on things about what people are able to do."
The PLM Corporate Citizenship Award recognizes local businesses for their service to the Northcenter community and outstanding acts of citizenship. Established in 2012, it was named for Patrick Leo McGinnis, a Chicago firefighter and community servant.