Two-time 'American Ninja Warrior' contestant teams with former client to open gym in Palatine

  • Jennifer Banks of Buffalo Grove and Tavares Chambliss of Wheeling are owners of the new Body Shop Gymnasium in Palatine. The pair met about five years ago when Banks participated in a fitness boot camp led by Chambliss, a former contestant on "American Ninja Warrior."

    Jennifer Banks of Buffalo Grove and Tavares Chambliss of Wheeling are owners of the new Body Shop Gymnasium in Palatine. The pair met about five years ago when Banks participated in a fitness boot camp led by Chambliss, a former contestant on "American Ninja Warrior." Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/27/2021 6:12 AM

A two-time "American Ninja Warrior" TV show competitor and his former client-turned-business partner have opened a gym in Palatine that is all about positivity and creating "a fit family."

Body Shop Gymnasium is owned by Tavares Chambliss of Wheeling, who participated in the TV show in 2015 and 2017, and Jennifer Banks of Buffalo Grove, who works in IT and developed a passion for fitness after working out with Chambliss.

 

The two are proud owners of the new 10,000-square-foot gym that had its grand opening earlier this month at 345 N. Eric Drive, Suite 500.

"The vibe that you get when you're here ... you don't' feel like you're walking around lost like at (a different gym) where you sign up and feel like you don't know anybody," Chambliss said. "You really get a family-oriented feel. Everyone is here lifting everyone up and everyone is here to get better."

Banks added, "A lot of the feedback that we got from the grand opening, from the people, is that they can feel the vibe, the energy, the positivity."

Body Shop Gymnasium offers one-on-one personal training, small group training and fitness classes.

The space previously held another gym that Chambliss and Banks frequented. The two planned to open a new gym in October but moved up their plans when the occasion presented itself.

They painted the space in purple and gold, reorganized and added some equipment, and hired instructors for a variety of new classes: yoga, fit hop, cardio kickboxing, kids' classes, and more boot camps such as TRX. They are also thinking of adding Zumba classes.

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"That's a lot of the comments that we get from people -- they love the variety," Banks said.

Banks, in her 40s, met Chambliss, in his 30s, about five years ago, when Chambliss was holding outdoor boot camps at Arlington Heights Park District's "Payton's Hill." The hill is named after legendary Chicago Bear Walter Payton, who used to train there.

Banks grew up in Texas and played sports when she was younger, but she battled with her weight for most of her adult life.

"After having my second kid -- he's 16 now -- I got back into fitness and started working on getting back into shape," she said.

She now loves lifting weights, she said. "Some of the stuff (Chambliss) has us doing ... I remember thinking, 'That's crazy. I'll never be able to do that.' And then doing it, it's a great feeling."

Chambliss, who grew up in Wheeling, has a football, kickboxing and martial arts background. He has been a personal trainer for about 12 years. He made it to the semifinals of "American Ninja Warrior" in 2015 but was eliminated after he was told he touched water just as he made it to safety. "I was for sure disappointed," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He didn't make it past the qualifiers in 2017 because he didn't pay enough attention to the demonstration technique for an obstacle, he said.

"The second time was more like a job. I was so focused on wanting to win that I didn't let myself enjoy it," he said.

Overall, the TV show experience was great, he said. "I had a lot of fun. It was really dope," he said. "I made a bunch of friends."

To achieve fitness, people have to figure out what works for them, Chambliss said. They also have to incorporate proper nutrition, but they should always leave room for enjoying life, he said.

Banks and Chambliss started talking about owning a gym last year.

"I am more of the planner out of the two of us," Banks said. "He's more of a 'Can you give me a date and I'll make it happen.'"

Owning his own gym "feels amazing," Chambliss said.

Banks said she hopes to eventually quit her corporate job.

"I prefer to work with people, help people. I enjoy talking to people and talking about their fitness," she said. "This is my passion."

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