Freedom Fitness helps clients learn healthy lifestyles

Health and fitness begin with a person’s mental and emotional well-being, addressing pain, gaining self-worth and loving themselves, then the desired physical changes will come, according to the owner of a new fitness center in Crystal Lake.

John DeCicco, of McHenry, is owner of Freedom Fitness, LLC, located at 60 W. Terra Cotta Ave., Unit F, which opened in April. The retired U.S. Calvary Scout takes his approach to fitness from his own life experience.

DeCicco retired from the military with injuries and chronic health issues. As he awaited surgeries, his personal life also took a downward turn. He stopped caring about himself, was depressed, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and ultimately gained about 60 pounds.

He eventually returned to the McHenry area and took a job at a title company, which he soon realized only added to his depression and unhealthy lifestyle.

When he began to deal with the underlying issues causing his unhealthy weight gain, he began to love himself and in turn found a way to shed the pounds.

He began high-intensity workouts, ran a marathon and felt good about himself again. He became a personal trainer at a large fitness center. Then with encouragement from clients opened his own fitness place.

He said he learned what “his worth is.”

Today, with Kate Thomas, his business partner and fitness instructor, he shares his experiences and positive approach to help others find their way to healthier lifestyles.

Thomas also has struggled with depression and weight gain.

DeCicco and Thomas embrace, understand and accept their clients where they are emotionally and physically. There is no judgment, they said.

If someone needs to come in and talk, cry, vent, the club is a safe place to do that, they said.

The name “Freedom” in the club’s title DeCicco said means “allowing people to be exactly who they are without any pre-judgment or prejudice.”

“Feel free to wear what you want, look how you want to look, love how you want to love, do what makes you happy, because when you are happy your world is happy,” DeCicco said.

The partners said they are trying to “build a community” not just a fitness club.

They host events such as “Find your Fit,” where no one exercises, they just come together to get to know each other. Of course, the club also offers high-intensity circuit training, boot camps, fitness, strength and kick box classes and a running club.

For anyone looking to get started on improving their overall health, DeCicco says first “clear your mind, no body shaming, don’t worry about where you were 10 years ago or where you want to be next year, focus on today.”