CHICAGO — Whatever the discipline — football, boxing or personal training — Gideon Akande wants to be the best.
So far the Rogers Park native, River North resident and Lane Tech graduate has done a pretty good job of living up to that mantra.
Akande, 32, was an all-city running back at Lane Tech before earning all-conference honors and a full scholarship to Holy Cross.
And after ditching an insurance sales career that left him unsatisfied a few years ago, he started a career as a personal trainer that's boomed.
He has several individual clients, teaches classes at Studio Three and recently had his own program — RipTensity — bought and released on DVDs by Men's Health. The 30-minute workouts don't use equipment, instead utilizing the body's weight to strengthen muscles.
"I love what I do," said Akande, who was named Men's Health's Next Top Trainer in 2015. "My energy is limitless. That's why I've been successful."
Akande said that energy was forged by his parents, Connell and Anthonia, who emigrated from Nigeria and settled in Rogers Park, where Connell was a pastor and Anthonia was a nurse. Akande, who took CTA buses every day to either Walt Disney Magnet School or Lane Tech, said there would be days at a time where he wouldn't see his mom or dad, who were working 12-16 hour days.
"I had to work two jobs to finance my school at DePaul University," Connell Akande said. "The work ethic we gave Gideon is that, one, he has to work hard and he will get results. And that there is no free lunch."
Akande was a star running back at Lane, running for 3,300-plus total yards during his junior and senior seasons, and also wrestled and ran track for the Indians.
"His commitment and work ethic is the reason he was an outstanding football player," said his football coach at Lane, Rich Rio. "He led by example and their was no doubt in my mind that he would be successful in whatever career choice he made."
At Holy Cross, he was a football team captain and earned a degree in political science in 2006. Akande worked in the corporate world for four years before transitioning into personal fitness, first starting at Equinox as a personal trainer, then leading classes there before heading to River North-based Studio Three.
Seeking another challenge, he took up boxing this decade, too, winning Chicago Golden Gloves crowns in 2013 and 2014.
"He never gave up on what he was doing, and, if he had a bad day, he would come and redeem himself the next day," Colonna said. "He set goals, and, until those goals were filled, nothing stopped him from achieving those goals."
Akande has transferred the skills he used to motivated himself in boxing and football to driving his clients in personal training. Although he's not surprised he's succeeded as a trainer, Akanke has been shocked that his workouts are sold to the masses. He developed the RipTensity program to provide rigorous routines in 30-minute form.
For his next plans, Akande wants to help Chicago's inner-city kids with exercise clinics.
"I look like them," he said. "I jumped on the same CTA bus that they did. I'm a Nigerian American. My parents are from a third-world country. There are so many different layers to my life and ways I can connect to them."
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