Community Fitness Expert Gets One on One about Health & Wellness

Thursday, 30 August 2012 01:41 Written by  Iya Bakare

Who would have guessed Michael Harris would develop a passion for fitness that would change the lives of others? Probably his mother who watched him do push-ups and jump rope with an imaginary rope at four years old, the Chicago native says. The loss of his grandmother to cancer catapulted his decision to not only achieve personal fitness, but to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.

“My grandmother passing from cancer made me realize that illness is very real, and there is a need for awareness in our community,” Michael comments. “I will continue to service others in America until an impact of a positive movement is achieved.”

The certified personal trainer says his interest in fitness peaked in high school, when he admits he wanted to make sure he was at peak performance at all times. Excelling in wrestling, basketball, track, cross country and football, the athlete joined the U.S. Navy after high school. In 2003, Michael became a personal trainer and says he honed his personal training skills during his eight years in the military.

Once he left the military and after he worked with a mentor, Michael says he combined his love of healthy living and new entrepreneurship aspirations to open his first business in Chicago’s South Loop, where he met Chuck Doud, one of his former clients.

“His [Michael] specialty is working with and connecting with people,” Chuck comments. “He connects and doesn’t just count reps. His level of connection and his innate sense of what I wanted out of the program is what made me work with him.”

With a desire to spread his passion for healthy living to other parts of the city, Michael says he decided to move his business and vision to the Pilsen community, one of the heartbeats of Chicago.

“I wanted to take the highest population of cultures in America as I touched the needs of the masses and not the needs of the few,” Michael adds. “I want to meet them where I can hold seminars to let them know health is real and teach people to invest in themselves.”

Last August, Pilsen welcomed the first installment 1 on 1 Health Fitness into its community. In the studio, Michael hosts monthly Catalyst seminars which include Movement Specialist and Nutritionist Sergio Rojas, in addition to various workout options such as Zumba, boot camp, yoga and personal training classes. Michael says he will continue to offer different classes as the business continues to expand.

As an active member of the Greater Pilsen Economic Development Association (GPEDA), the trainer says he recognizes the importance of speaking to the children of the community and holds seminars in the schools. When Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s Athletic Director Jason Dillon says he was looking for speakers to discuss health and wellness to his senior gym classes, he found Michael as a perfect fit.

“He [Michael] offers a different perspective and expertise in an area where I don’t have as much experience, which is how functional fitness affects people in their daily lives,” Jason says. “Children can take this information back to their families and have an impact in their homes. We’re not just educating the child, but also the parents and the community.”

Within a year of the grand opening of his Pilsen studio, Michael’s business expanded to the purchase of two more studios in the same building, a partnership with Spartyka Training Center and USANA, future plans for an internet show, meeting Dr. Oz, free fitness block events with support from Ald. Danny Solis (25th) in the community and more.

“My vision is geared toward service and helping the community to become more healthy,” Michael says. “Helping people to get better will help me to be better.”


*Images courtesy of Michael Harris

For more information on 1 on 1 Health Fitness, visit

Follow 1 on 1 Health Fitness on Twitter at @1on1 Health Fitness

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare, GMO's managing editor, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in print journalism. She earned her B.A. from Delta State University with a minor in English and graduated with a M.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago. In her spare time, the Chicago native continues to freelance and ponder ways to both inform and improve her community one story at a time.

She can be contacted at
Follow her on Twitter: @ibakare


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