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Body Evolution in the Press - October 5, 2005

South Elgin resident Chicago's 'Most Fit'
Hedrich claims title, proving his methods work
By Erik Jacobsen    Courier News    Posted on Sunday, October 5, 2005

Bulky powerlifters and ridiculously buff bodybuilders owned the main stage for much of the day at BenchAmerica's Fitness Expo at the Elgin Community College Events Center on Saturday.

However, 150-pound South Elgin resident Ken Hedrich stole the show in earning the title "Chicagoland's Most Fit Man."

Hedrich, a 35-year-old personal trainer at Body Evolution in South Elgin, beat out four other male finalists in a competition that consisted of six events — a 5-kilometer run, stair-climbing, push-ups, chin-ups, benchpress reps and a maximum benchpress lift.

"I'm always looking for ways to be a good role model for my clients," Hedrich said.  "I personal train full time, so I've got to practice what I preach and that was my primary motivation."

Hedrich beat runner-up Joe Eckert, who's sister Kristen Eckert earned "Chicagoland's Most Fit Woman" honors.  Kristen Eckert, a 24-year-old from Arlington Heights, said she had no idea what the competition was about a few months ago, but after taking part she hopes to intensify her workout routine.

"I've never done anything like this and a couple friends in my gym were pretty much daring me to do it," Eckert said.  "It is a pretty cool event and definitely gives everyone something to work toward.  From this I think I've decided I want to do some kind of figure or body-building competition so I have a goal going into the gym."

Throughout the summer, men and women performed the six events at XSport Fitness Center's throughout the Chicago area in an attempt to qualify for Saturday's finals.

Of the five men and four women who took part Saturday, Jack Bellmer — a wiry, balding Springfield resident — was the oldest.  At 55-years-old, Bellmer's 82 push-ups in a minute, 16 consecutive chin-ups and 20 bench reps of 130 pounds were competitive with his younger counterparts.

"All I can say is where's the handicap?" Bellmer said with a laugh.  "But seriously, this is good competition and a fun event."

Hedrich, who entered the finals with the most points from qualifying, completed an amazing 112 push-ups in a minute.  He also performed 30 consecutive chin-ups and benched 48 reps of 150 pounds.  Before each event, Hedrich's 4-year-old son Andrew offered some support from the side of the stage.

"I'm not a stranger to competition, but this is certainly a neat event and a little bit different than what I am used to," Hedrich said.  "With the music, the lights and all the people cheering for you, it was a great atmosphere."

Several hundred people watched the competition and there was a steady flow of visitors throughout the day who visited various fitness booths and watched several national powerlifting competitions, a bodybuilding show and other performances.

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