Welcome to Wrigley Field, famous home of the Chicago Cubs, and the world’s largest OrangeTheory gym.
Ryan Evans, a fitness instructor at one of OrangeTheory’s Naperville locations, led thousands in performing a high intensity interval training workout, also known as HIIT.
“At OrangeTheory we have three components,” Evans said. “We have a water rower system, a treadmill system, and a floor block where we’ll use that for strength training. We didn’t have any of that. So we had to essentially come up with a workout that still modeled OrangeTheory without any of the equipment that we use on a daily basis.”
OrangeTheory’s World Record Attempt
One of the goals of the event was to break the Guinness World Record for largest HIIT class, previously set at 3,804.
“We were actually just talking about this, thinking, ‘Is this how we make it into the Guinness Book of World Records?’ so we’re pretty excited about that,” said Chicago residents Devin Ambrose and Dali Mijarez.
Though they sold more than 4,200 tickets, they came up just a few hundred attendees short of the mark.
For a Good Cause
But the greater purpose of the event was to benefit Augie’s Quest – an ALS charity named after fitness pioneer Augie Nieto, who continues to defy the odds after being diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease 14 years ago.
“We’ve raised money for Augie’s Quest for the last couple of years, both in the state of Illinois and nationally,” said Brad Ehrlich, CEO of OrangeTheory Fitness Illinois and emcee of the event. “But we got together and we said, ‘what could we do if we all joined forces to make an event that had the impact of the ice bucket challenge that happened a couple years ago.’ ”
“What OrangeTheory has done with it, and all their participants is they have been able to help us move a drug into clinic two years faster than we would have otherwise,” said Lynne Nieto, wife of Augie and a boardmember at the ALS Therapy Institute.
Time to Shine
With Wrigley decked out in orange, the participants gathered for a group photo in the bleachers before spreading out around the concourse, stands, and even the warning track for the 45-minute class.
That was Evans’ time to shine.
“So admittedly, I was a little bit nervous going out there,” he said. “More than a little. But it worked out really well. And as soon as you get up there, it’s time to perform. The show goes on. So you kind of snap and everything that you’ve practiced just starts to implement. You almost go onto autopilot.”
Seeing the crowds performing the workout was an inspiration to those closest to the disease.
“It is absolutely incredible,” said Brian Wallach, who was diagnosed with ALS in November of 2017. “To look out into the bleachers and look into the stadium and see this many people, you can’t help but have hope that we will find a way to finally end this terrible disease, and again, help but believe that the people here will take their efforts today and go out into the world and make something absolutely incredible happen.”
“What this means to look out at all of this is for those of us who have been diagnosed with a disease like ALS is it gives you a feeling of support, that we’re in this together and that together we can find treatment and ultimately a cure for this,” said Nieto.
A Successful Fundraiser
In the end, the event raised $126,320 for Augie’s Quest.
“It’s amazing,” said Ehrlich. “It is absolutely amazing to see an idea that we had, come to fruition in an event like this and the message from it is if you believe in something, if you’re willing to give all of yourself to it, all of your heart and all of your drive, things like this really can happen.”
Staying active in the fight against ALS.
NCTV17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
For more community sports features, check out our Sports Story Sunday page.
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