OLD TOWN — Paul Toback, the former CEO of Bally Total Fitness, thinks he has created the missing piece between the treadmill and elliptical machine.
Toback has been working on perfecting the Sproing for four years and last month opened the nation's first Sproing-centric studio, Sproing Sport, in Old Town.
"There's a huge space in between. We tried to give you the cardio burn of a treadmill with the low impact of an elliptical," Toback said.
The main component of each Sproing is the air-filled base that acts as a cushion for a runner's feet.
The idea came to Toback, a two-time marathon runner, while running on the sand.
He found the only time he wasn't suffering from post-workout pain was when he ran on the beach, and obviously the beach is not always an option.
"I was finding it harder to get through a workout so I began to play with some ideas and think about it and that's really how Sproing was born," Toback said.
The machine that is about the same size as a treadmill is in a number of gyms and fitness centers around the country including and former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher's brand new Hollywood fitness center.
Urlacher opened Unbreakable Performance along with Jay Glazer, and the two bought three Sproings to work out their clientele consisting of athletes and celebrities in Los Angles.
Jerry Ferrara, who played Turtle on HBO's series "Entourage," was the first to try it out.
The Old Town Sproing Sport studio, 1652 N. Wells St., is built for 45-minute group classes on the machines that focus on high intensity interval training.
An elastic band around a runner's waist tethered to the machine forces a runner into a natural running position leaning forward onto the balls of his feet, unlike the upright running form on a treadmill.
The interval workouts also include strength training with resistance bands attached to the machine.
"There's a lot of people who can't take the pounding [of running] anymore," Toback said.
Toback, who is a lawyer by training, previously worked as Mayor Richard Daley's staff and as an aide to President Bill Clinton's chief of staff.
The move to reenter the world of fitness after resigning as CEO of Bally's in 2006 was a difficult decision to make, but a necessary one, Toback said.
"I love fitness and I really saw a need for this piece and it was really driven out of my own personal need," he said.
The first class is free at the studio and packs of classes are available for around $20 per class depending on the size of the pack.
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