Sports enthusiasts Chuck and Mary Kay Graber moved to Naperville in late 1988 and joined a fledgling Edward Health and Fitness Center as a way to meet like-minded friends.
Twenty-five years later, Chuck is a spin-class master who also weight trains. Mary Kay, once an occasional swimmer, has completed several triathlons, 14 marathons and a few half-ironman competitions, all inspired by the experts at the Edward facility.
Oh, and she also works at the service counter.
"I've just gone completely crazy. My husband, not so much," Mary Kay said. "He's all about his fitness and his weight-training but I've become a competitive beast. It's fun."
Staff and guests this week have been celebrating the 25th anniversary of the medically-based fitness center at 775 Brom Court, which was considered far ahead of its time in 1988.
"We were the first of four hospital-based fitness centers in the Chicago-area," said Executive Director Cindy Eggemeyer. "We were a cutting-edge center then, as a wellness-based company integrated with a hospital, and we're cutting edge now. That's awesome."
Currently 12,000 members strong, averaging 8,000 visits a week, Eggemeyer remembers a time when membership was capped at 5,000 and the technology was nonexistent.
"The entertainment and education side of working out has been brought to the forefront in our equipment. And our members are demanding that," she said. "Now we have televisions and Internet access linked to most of our equipment. That just didn't exist in the late '80s, so that transition has been fun to watch.
Eggemeyer said she's also seen programming reach new heights.
"We're no longer a weights and treadmill place. You can do those things but we're so much more now," she said. "Being affiliated with Edward, we're also offering many more step-down programs relating to Parkinson's, diabetes, cardio rehabilitation and pre- and postnatal care."
Graber said the programs are also kept fresh to keep up with the latest fitness trends.
"Everyone wanted Zumba and they got Zumba. Now we've even got Zumba under water. It's crazy," Graber said. "But the staff is great at putting all of the latest stuff on the floor and letting us, members, decide if we like it or not."
Throughout the week, members have been surprised with freebies in assorted lockers, giveaways and raffles to celebrate the anniversary.