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Article updated: 2/20/2013 6:02 PM

'The Biggest Loser' to open new resort in Itasca

By Jamie Sotonoff

The long-running NBC weight loss competition show, "The Biggest Loser," will open a new, upscale resort in Itasca, the resort's parent company, Fitness Ridge Worldwide, announced Wednesday.

"The Biggest Loser Resort-Chicago" is scheduled to open in May within the Eaglewood Resort & Spa, 1401 Nordic Road.

Company officials said they chose the Chicago area because of repeated requests from fans around the Midwest and Canada who wanted a resort closer to them. The three other The Biggest Loser Resorts are in California, Utah and upstate New York.

"The beauty of the (Chicago) resort is that it has full conference center capabilities. We can have our traditional standard program for consumers ... but also, now, wherewithal to expand into the corporate world," said Fitness Ridge Worldwide's Chief Marketing Officer Howard Cohl.

The Itasca location will offer "four-diamond" accommodations, a full-service spa, a golf course, a 75-foot indoor pool, and of course, a gym. It will be geared to ages 14 and up at all fitness levels, focusing on exercise, nutrition and education.

While the show's celebrity trainers won't be there, it's possible former contestants might pop in. Over the years, several suburban contestants have appeared on the show, and Bartlett resident Michael Ventrella won Season 9 in 2010 by dropping from 526 pounds to 262 pounds.

"We haven't done the full hiring there, but we've had past contestants at all our resorts," Cohl said. "We love the idea of bringing them back in as trainers, or as guest speakers."

Ventrella said Wednesday that he's not yet sure whether he'll be at the resort as a trainer, a guest speaker or just a visitor, but he can't wait to check it out. The former deejay now works as a certified personal trainer and motivational speaker, and is also shopping around a cookbook and a cooking with kids TV show.

"I live down the street (from Eaglewood)," he said. "I'll be riding my bike there."

Ventrella has been to The Biggest Loser resorts in Utah and California, describing them as "amazing and beautiful." What he liked best about their programs, which he's done, are the classes held between workouts that teach people about the body and nutrition.

"You can go anywhere and get a trainer. And the trainer will tell you to cut calories and watch your fat," he said. "The most valuable tool you get from (the resort) is the education."

The Biggest Loser Resort-Chicago's one-week minimum wellness and weight loss programs will combine morning hikes on the 106-acre property and an array of daily fitness classes. It's done under the supervision of certified personal trainers, with on-site health practitioners, dietitians, nutrition experts and executive chefs to prepare healthy meals.

Prices for a one-week program, which includes everything but spa treatments, are $2,995 for single occupancy and $2,595 per person for double occupancy. Discounts are now being offered for advanced registration. Call (877) 825-8878 or go to biggestloserresort.com for more information.

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