Client Spotlight: Gary Mandell

April 5th, 2020

In 2016, Gary Mandell was running for political office when he ventured into a Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce launch. There, Gary discovered the newly-launched The Fit Institute Chicago, and the sports rehabilitation and strength performance center’s alignment with the techniques and equipment Gary was already used to. He came in to try it out and stuck with the routine.

“I’d been working out on and off for probably about 40 years… I kept getting injured and would start and stop and start and stop and always struggled with weight,” Mandell said.

Previously, Gary used bad form and hurt himself, out for the count for months. “Back in the day, anyone could become a personal trainer,” Gary said. “There weren’t necessarily the education requirements. It was all about how much weight you could push, and not if you were doing it right.” 

The consequences were dire–he ended up with some herniated discs in his neck, spinal fusion, sciatica in his lower back… He was out for months, sat on his butt at home and ate. He put on weight and approached the recovery process from a stagnant standpoint. 

The great thing about TFI? “First of all, everyone is trained,” Gary said. The PT staff communicates with personal trainers to ensure patients are performing their exercises correctly, and focusing on the necessary body parts. Gary’s been at TFI for three years, and unlike his past experiences, he hasn’t had to take significant time off for injuries. Consistency is key.

Gary reached a new personal record in his weight a few years ago when he exclaimed, “This is ridiculous! I need to get back in shape again.” 

When running for office, Gary walked frequently and lost some weight, but not enough to reach his goals. “I’m a numbers person,” he explained. 

Luigi, one of TFI’s personal trainers, introduced Gary to My Fitness Pal. He’s kept track of the calories and how much he was burning when he was exercising for over 600 days in a row. 

“I’m about 70 pounds less now,” Gary smiled. That’s huge!

“I was huge,” Gary laughed, “but not anymore.” 

He kept track of the progress of his good days and bad days, and watched the pounds slip away. Gary still keeps up with tracking his food–and his exercise. His routine includes speed walking on the treadmill, rowing, biking and climbing the stairs, with an emphasis on “not hurting myself.” 

Gary’s father died of a heart attack at the age of 50, but Gary, who is 63, said “I’m not doing that.” He had his first granddaughter and wants to be around for her. “I don’t want her to be one of the kids who say, ‘I never knew my grandfather; he died before I was born.’” 

Comments like “you look good” and “how do you feel?” keep Gary encouraged in the process. Those comments and “knowing I can climb the stairs and not be out of breath” keep him driven. His wife also chimes in with, “I like the way you look,” and that’s the motivation he needs. Gary now slips on pants the size of something he hasn’t worn in over twenty years. 

TFI ensures that patients aren’t only doing the work, but they do it right. The personal trainers and physical therapy staff work together to ensure “they’re looking out for me,” Gary said.  

“For me to have worked out for three years and not have to take off four months because I’ve injured myself… that’s never happened to me.”

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