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Chicago Sun-Times

Mike Bystol didn't move all that far when he relocated his Bystol Performance Center from Northfield to Highland Park. But the move marks a big professional leap for the veteran strength trainer, whose clients include professional athletes, executives, mothers, teens and younger kids ages 8 on up.

Bystol has doubled his space - from 11,000 square feet to 22,000 square feet - and added 4,000 square feet of running turf for speed training.

"We kind of set it up as the ultimate training gym," said Bystol, of his new facility at 1200 Old Skokie Road, just west of Route 41 and south of Deerfield Road. "Not only will I have my [six-member] staff here, but I am also renting out to other local trainers. There are a lot of trainers who rent space at smaller facilities and they can't really [provide] all the facilities that an athlete should have."

He's also no longer using the "Poliquin" name in his business moniker, a reference to Charles Poliquin, an internationally-known strength trainer whose name is associated with a vast network of certification programs for trainers. Bystol operated for about nine years as the Poliquin Performance Center of Chicago based on what he describes as a handshake arrangement.

"Charles said, 'It's time you go on your own now and operate under your own name, because if you want to sell your business down the road, you won't have to worry about us.'"

Bystol works a lot with high school athletes eyeing college scholarships and he believes his new location is well situated to attract students from Deerfield, Stevenson and Lake Forest high schools while continuing to draw students from the New Trier areas of Winnetka and Wilmette.

On a recent afternoon, Indianapolis Colts football guard Hugh Thornton was putting himself through a grueling workout at Bystol's new gym. The Jamaican-born football player out of the University of Illinois trained with Bystol during the 2013 NFL scouting combine leading up to the draft, and opted to work with him as well during his off season.

Bystol is just as comfortable working with clients whose reasons for wanting a demanding workout with professional guidance are more common - perhaps because they are recovering from injuries, losing weight or just need to get back into shape.

Bystol also works with youngsters during what he sees as the most critical years from 8 to 13.

"That is when you learn movement and coordination, body awareness ... how to run, how to plant the foot," he said. "It is a really important age for kids to be active. I always tell kids, it doesn't matter what sport they choose. Just go play multiple sports. Go play tennis, do dance, do football, do baseball - any sport where there are different movements."


April 29, 2014


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