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Body Evolution in the Press - September 30, 2005

'Most Fit' title doesn't fit all
Athletes compete to test their physical condition mettle
South Elgin resident Chicago's "Most Fit Man" By Joanne Leis
Daily Herald    Posted on Friday, September 30, 2005

Personal fitness trainer Ken Hedrich can empathize with his clients' pain when he prods them for one last repetition.

More importantly, he knows firsthand the rewards of diligent training.

The South Elgin resident has run, climbed and benchpressed his way to becoming one of the five fittest men in the Chicago metropolitan area.

On Saturday, Hedrich, 35, will vie for the Most Fit Man title in Jiffy Lube's BenchAmerica Fitness Weekend at Elgin Community College.

Five women also will compete to become the Chicago area's Most Fit Woman.  The Most Fit amateur challenge is just one of the activities planned for this health and fitness event from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m Saturday at the new Spartan Events Center.

The whole family can enjoy the fitness challenges, kids' sports clinics, fitness vendors, big-name entertainers and the drug-tested National Benchpress Championships, which feature 10 women and 60 men from around the country.

The fitness weekend is free until 4 p.m., when the price becomes $10 for adults and $5 for students.  Those who are already in the building by 4 p.m. can stay for free.

The evening activities include the Chicago Bulls Bucket Boys, B96 Mix Master Dan Morell, and the Men's Heavyweight National Benchpress Championship Finals, in which many participants will try to lift 700 pounds.  Other highlights include the Jesse White Tumblers at 2:30 p.m., the Jiffy Lube Fitness Team and Chicago Rush dancer Beth Allen.

The day begins at 8 a.m. with a 5K Run/Walk around the ECC campus sponsored by GMI-Burger Kings.  The run/walk benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin.

The Women's National Benchpress Championships will be on the main stage from 9 to 11 a.m.  The Men's Lightweight (114-148 pounds) National Bench Press Championships will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by the middleweight division (165-220 pounds) from 1 to 3 p.m.

Hedrich and his fellow Most Fit finalists will be on the main stage from 3 to 4 p.m.  The fitness challenge includes a 5K run, Stairmaster climb, chin-ups, push-ups and the bench-press.

Kristen and Joe Eckert, a brother-and-sister team from Arlington Heights, are among the finalists.

It's a mixture of strength and cardio, so it's a true fitness event," said Joe Mukite, and Elgin native and founder of the BenchAmerica Fitness Weekend.  "It is more geared to the average person, who can bench-press his or her weight.  It's truly a smaller version of a triathlon.  We've got some serious competitors, so we're very excited about it."

The top five men and women athletes were culled from thousands of competitors at 15 Xsport Fitness gyms in the Chicago area.  Athletes did not have to be members of the gym to participate in the Most Fit challenge.

Hedrich, who works out in his South Elgin Body Evolution studio, competed at the St. Charles Xsport Fitness club.  To become a finalist, Hedrich performed 43 chin-ups, 109 push-ups in one minute, climed 74 floors on the Stairmaster in 10 minutes, and did the 5K treadmill run in just under 30 minutes.  He bench-pressed his 150-pound body weight56 times, and did one repetition of 315 pounds.

"Fitness is my life," said Hedrich, who has a master's degree in exercise physiology.  "I am always striving to be a good role model for my clients.  I want to demonstrate to my clients that I practice what I preach."

Hedrich said that he had a cramp the day he ran the treadmill at Xsport Fitness and plans to greatly improve his time in the finals.

He is training for the title by following a strict low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet.

Hedrich includes both strength and cardiovascular activities in his regimen, and trains an hour a day, five days a week.

"I focus on quality over quantity," Hedrich said.

If I were to summarize my philosophy, it would be a traditional weight-training protocol with free-weight exercises.  I do a lot of repetitions.

In addition to strength training, Hedrich runs the treadmill, does incline walking, rides a stationary bicycle and uses the Stairstepper.

Comcast Sports Net will tape the Most Fit finals and the National Bench-press Championships and air them at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 and noon Oct. 20.

The Most Fit challenge is the first of its kinds, and Mukite would like to present it every year, eventually going nationwide.

"Comcast Sports Net is very interested in the Most Fit challenge," Mukite said.

"Here's the chance for the average guy to compete and be on TV.  It's a neat concept and we hope it continues."

In addition to the BenchAmerica Fitness Weekend, ECC is hosting free fitness activities from noon to 4 p.m. to celebrate the opening of the newly remodeled Spartan Events Center.

The 35-year-old facility now houses 1,550 stadium seats, 950 floor seats and portable staging.

ECC kids' sports clinics include a rock wall, speed-pitch, golf, basketball and soccer.

Face-painting, dance clinics and fitness challenges for kids and adults also are on the agenda.

For schedules and more information, visit or

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