Michael Wollpert takes his high-energy, adventure-inspired classes to a larger platform
by Vanessa McClure
Michael Wollpert is a man on the move in more ways than one. The longtime fitness instructor and personal trainer seems to rarely sit still. He’s a marathon runner, triathlete and avid adventure racer with a Tour de France race on his resume. Now he’s moving into the next phase of his career, taking his original classes to a national fitness club brand.
“It’s good to be the pioneer of something,” says Wollpert, whose workout platform took hold in Chicago’s River North neighborhood in 2014. That year, he opened a boutique gym called TRAINology to house his signature high-energy fitness classes.
Wollpert drew inspiration for his classes from what he calls his number one love: adventure racing. The increasingly popular sport includes hiking, trotting, paddling and bicycling across the wilderness for days or weeks at a time. Hiking, Wollpert explains, is a high fat-burning activity with a low injury risk, and he wanted to offer those benefits to his students.
With this idea, HIKEology was born. Theseclasses use a combination of steep intervals and cardio bursts on the treadmill interspersed with strength training circuits. Though the initial Hike class was a success, Wollpert realized he needed to add something more to create a full body workout.
What drives me is just how fitness can make you happy in so many ways.
He noted there weren’t many fitness programs designed to work all the muscles in the leg, and adding a lateral (side-to-side) movement to his hiking-inspired workouts would remedy this issue. “I took something functional from a sport that I love and then asked myself, ‘How can I find the same benefit of hiking in a lateral form?’” he explains.
The answer was Wollpert’s GLIDEology concept. Students cover their gym shoes in a special slip-on bootie and move back and forth across a glide board. The motion is like a hockey skater on ice, building core strength and using muscles that are difficult to target with running or jogging. His goal was to target all leg muscles in a fun, new way.
GLIDEology hits the mark, Wollpert says. “Original ideas in fitness are few and far between,” he adds. Wollpert’s creativity and energy is evident in his teaching style, too. He says he’ll do whatever it takes to get a student pumped up for class, and students feed off of his infectious excitement. “Michael’s enthusiasm, energy and humor reallyresonate while he trains and teaches classes,” says fellow fitness instructor Hope Radtke.
Beyond offering a kind grin and a laugh while motivating people to push through that last incline jump or rep, Wollpert believes in modifying his workouts for individual students. He encourages them to define their own minimum and maximum effort and work within those personalized parameters to achieve their goals. “I feel successful when I see people have success, come back and want to do better,” he says.
Now he’s hoping to spread that feeling of success to a larger fitness community by bringing his trademark workouts to Equinox clubs.
The Equinox club in Chicago’s Loop will offer Glide and Hike classes beginning in May, and the formats will roll out across other Chicago-area locations in the future. Wollpert is also teaching Pursuit, a studio-style cycling class where he’ll draw on his years of experience as a master instructor at Flywheel Sports.
To commit to his new position with Equinox, Wollpert chose to close TRAINology and let go of his classes at Flywheel Sports, a series of decisions he says was an emotional roller coaster for him.
“Luckily my friends at Equinox love my Hike/ Glide programs,” Wollpert says. “Accepting the position as the Central Region Cycling Mentor was the icing on the cake. I now get to teach all my favorite classes (and some new favorites like ‘Ropes and Rowers’) for one outstanding national brand.”
Wollpert is also training clients at Lateral Fitness in River North. He says no matter the physical space or the class format, what motivates him to teach stays the same.
“What drives me is just how fitness can make you so happy in so many ways,” he says. “If you’re fit, you can be great at whatever you want to be or do in your life.”
Vanessa McClure is a certified yoga teacher and works for ATI Physical Therapy. She spends her free time teaching yoga, traveling, volunteering for the American Lung Association and drinking wine with friends.