HOBART | As owner of Chicago Health & Fitness, Mario Daklala has found the perfect balance between career and hobby.
Daklala followed his family to Northwest Indiana just a few years ago after selling his Boston home. With money from the sale, a degree in business management and experience managing night clubs and restaurants, Daklala found buying the health club presented the kind of business opportunity he was seeking.
Plus, as a body builder, personal trainer and fitness fanatic, owning a gym gave him a way to meld his professional and personal life.
“The whole idea for going to school for business management was own a business,” Daklala said. “I was looking for a business here and since I started competing in body building competition, I developed a desire to own a gym. It took a couple of years to find what I really wanted.”
He bought the business from its former owner in April 2011, leasing the 15,000-square-foot space where it was housed.
Daklala said that an agreement between him and the previous owners prohibits him from releasing details of the sale, however he says he will be able to recoup his investment within the new few years.
“It takes three to five years and we’re on track for that,” he said.
Although Daklala said he hates being a salesman, he doesn’t think of his job recruiting new gym members as selling.
“When people come in I don’t talk them into buying a membership, I talk them into working out,” he said. “Everybody should work out for their health good. It’s for heart rate, oxygen level, and so much more. Everyone should have a fitness goal in mind. They should know what they want to do. It’s more than lifting weights and running a couple of miles. It’s stability coordination, flexibilily stamina, strength, and balance.”
The gym, which sells apparel and food supplements, offers aerobic, Zumba and yoga classes, plus group exercises, tanning, personal training and child care during mornings and afternoons. It also has four new bikes, ellipticals and 12 different types of cardio machines.
“People don’t want to see the old equipment,”Daklala said. “You’ve got to stay on top of it and keep challenging people. You need to keep your body guessing and keep challenging it to get the results you want.”
The gym is open 24 hours a day, five days a week and from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends for those who choose that membership category. For others, it’s open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and opens an hour later on Sundays.
“We’re the only gym that gives that option,” Daklala said.
Although he said business could always be better, it’s been “good.” Daklala hopes to expand to another location in the next few years, but isn’t ready to make any announcement concerning possible locations yet.
“Buying this gym was the best decision I ever made,” Daklala said. “I wasn’t sure about Hobart when I bought it, but after a month or two I found it has the best people and the best location I could have found. I love Hobart, and love the clients.”