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Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 01:40 am

Best of Springfield 2009 continued

PHOTO BY JOSEPH COPLEY

BEST GYM FOR WEIGHT LOSS

Fit Club

South, 3631 S. Sixth, 787-8348

North, 2701 E. Sangamon, 788-8250

West, 2811 W. Lawrence, 787-1111

Carlinville, 935 E. Morgan, 854-2000

The personal touch is what made Fit Club the top choice in the weight loss category. It can be intimidating walking into a busy gym feeling more fat than fit. That’s why Fit Club has arranged a special 12-week weight loss program that begins with a private consultation that takes into account limitations and abilities, with an evaluation that documents where you are, and where you want to be. You get one-on-one nutritional coaching with a personal trainer, plus two exercise sessions per week for 12 weeks, again with a personal trainer dedicated to getting results. The most important equipment may not be the exercise machines, but the Web site that monitors your food intake and calories consumed, plus the armband you’re given to measure calories burned throughout the day. As long as you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight.

Dr. Kevin Imhoff, the CEO and co-founder, got started in the fitness center business 15 years ago, and Fit Club itself celebrates its 10-year anniversary Nov. 14 at Fit Club South. “There is no greater feeling than to see people who have gotten success with our program,” Imhoff says. “We’ve had a role in changing their lives.”

Runner-up: Cardinal Fitness

BEST GYM FOR WEIGHT TRAINING

Fit Club

All locations, www. fitclub.net

With the largest collection of weight machines and free weights in central Illinois, Fit Club has what you need. And it has the confidence of “Best of” voters, who named it the best gym for weight training. There are computerized weight machines, air pressure machines, and equipment that operates with weight stacks, plus 10 types of “gravity” machines that use your body weight for resistance training. Coming soon is an “Art of Strength” center at Fit Club West that uses kettle-bell weights to make you stronger. With all this variety available, you need a plan, a program and a personal trainer to get you started and guide you through – Fit Club can supply those too. All you need to do is show up and do the work.

Another place to show up is Gold’s Gym, which readers gave a strong second place in the weight training category. With its abundance of machines and free weights, a friendly staff and personal trainers to show you what to do, and many classes to make working out fun and affordable, Gold’s celebrates its fifth anniversary this fall strong and fit. Another thing Gold’s has going for it is its central city location – easy to get to and embodying the east side development others only talk about.

Runner-up: Gold’s Gym

BEST FITNESS INSTRUCTOR

Wayne Carrels – H.I.P.E

3430 Constitution Dr., Suite 113

787-HIPE (4473)

If you want a challenging workout, Wayne Carrels is your guy. The ex-Navy personal trainer owns and operates H.I.P.E. (High Intensity Practical Exercises). Carrels is a modest, high-energy man with a passion for fitness, which explains why his clients were so enthusiastic when nominating him as best fitness instructor. “He is so creative and pushes you to limits you didn’t know you could go for,” said one happy voter. The best part about his classes is the price. For a measly five bucks per class, you get a turbocharged workout with personal attention. With no monthly contract, no initiation fees and a highly-motivational trainer, H.I.P.E is a great deal and a great workout.

Runner-up: Monica Maggio – Zumba classes

BEST LOCAL CHARACTER

Sam Madonia

Abraham Lincoln actually won “local character” this year, but he wouldn’t return our phone calls, so Sam Madonia agreed to take his place. The former Lincoln High School teacher of 30 years now entertains sports fans and morning listeners on Springfield’s WFMB 1450 AM. He attributes his “character” status to his name recognition – from 35 years in radio and from belonging to a family of longtime Springfield residents. Madonia jokes that he thought he was retiring when he stopped teaching. Still, he seems as busy as ever, setting up informational exhibits and school DUI displays for the Illinois Secretary of State over the past 14 years. Springfield, Madonia says, is an outstanding city. “It’s been called an overgrown small town, but it’s a great place,” he says. “It’s a really solid community of good people.”

BEST LOCAL CHARACTER (runner-up)

Dr. Doug Shevlin

Though Dr. Doug Shevlin didn’t get the most votes for “local character,” the comments with his votes were pretty interesting. Readers commented on the Ben Franklin lookalike’s purported collection of satin suits and Latin Rumba records, guarded by a mythical, gun-toting little person named “Mr. Jimmy.” The truth is, unfortunately, less bizarre, but Shevlin is still a pretty interesting guy. An avid music enthusiast and philanthropist, the Chuck Taylor-wearing pathologist is apt to throw dinner parties with hilarious themes (Wurst Party Ever) and take whirlwind cross-country road trips with his friends – once even taking along a cardboard cutout of a co-conspirator who couldn’t go. Shevlin wants the world to know that “a nod is not the same as a wave.” Seems like good advice to us.

BEST LOCAL CHARACTER (runner-up)

Steve E. Unverzagt

Realty Executives, 547-5500

The voting was so close for best local character that it’s worth introducing the runners-up – a cowboy-boot-wearing real estate agent that has been known to pose as the mayor of Springfield. Steve Unverzagt is a Camaro-driving, motorcycle-racing jack-of-all-trades, an eager philanthropist and one heck of a storyteller. He energetically recalls his 12,000-mile solo motorcycle ride to the Arctic Circle, on which he took not much more than a pistol (for the polar bears) and a satellite phone. He’s a Vietnam veteran, a former iron worker and a real maverick if ever there was one. He even raised a successful son (also Steve Unverzagt), who won two “best-of” awards as well this year. “I’ve looked into the abyss and decided I’m not ready to die,” Unverzagt says. “I’m a guy who wants to live, and I live every moment like it’s my last.”

BEST ORIGINAL BAND

The Station

The Station, repeating as Best Original Band (also, in 2008, the Band Most Likely to Hit it Big) celebrates 10 years as a band in 2009. Just a few months ago founding bassist Josh Kerska left the group and local bass virtuoso Jeff Cunningham joined, while the band continues on as one of the hottest progressive rock acts in the Midwest. The jamming quartet of Cunningham, Dave Littrell, Dave Carter and Kevin Lemen, obviously known for original music, presents an annual Halloween show focusing on a specific music group or event. This year see the Best Original Band for 2009 perform a night of Sly and the Family Stone tunes at City Nights Theater on Oct. 31. Be sure to check out another Station show to hear the catchy and intricate self-penned tunes that won them this category for two years straight. Runner-ups Micah Walk Band and NIL8 show the incredible range of talent our readers had to choose from within the Springfield original music scene.

Runners-up: Micah Walk Band, NIL8

BEST COVER/TRIBUTE BAND

F5

As in many years in the past F5 again handily takes the cake for the Best Cover/Tribute Band. But be prepared music lovers, next year the category is wide open, as these perennial favorites called it quits in 2009. The dance/rock group known to perform songs so up to date they were still on the charts, made their final appearance at the Miller beer tent during the 2009 Illinois State Fair. No matter what your musical opinion of the band was, the fact remains they packed the house wherever and whenever the group showed up to do their thing. Perhaps we have a battle brewing now for 2010, since the next three groups to place, Still Kickn’, Brat Pack and the Dirty Ernies, all came within a few votes of each other. Interestingly enough and a tribute to the diversity of Springfield bar bands is the completely different styles of music displayed by the top four vote-getters. Hear, hear!

Runners-up: Still Kickin’, Brat Pack, Dirty Ernies

BEST NEW BAND THIS YEAR

Music for Big Kids

In a town known for stability and continuity, new bands are a seldom seen sight in Springfield, or more truthfully, new band names are scarce, since many of the old bands are actually new bands with old names and new members, if you follow this drift. Music for Big Kids (M4BK) handily won this award by nearly double over tied second-place bands Go Tsunami! and Broken Stone. They truly are a brand new band in name and members (with the exception of lead guitarist Michael Sullivan who should be in every new band). M4BK logged local bookings at Bar None, The Plaza, SOHO Music Fest, JP Kelley’s, Marly’s and Harry’s Adult Daycare since first coming together in January of 2009. They head to Cicero’s in St. Louis for an out-of-town show on Nov. 22. The group wasted little time while together and recently recorded a CD of original material called Hold and Hold On to be debuted on Nov. 20 with a release party at Bar None. Just remember folks, no repeat winners in this category!

Runners-up: Go Tsunami!, Broken Stone

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