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196. Best of Barrington Survey Results: “The Active Life”

196. Best of Barrington Survey Results: “The Active Life”

Home Newsroom 196. Best of Barrington Survey Results: “The Active Life”

It’s time to reveal the second round of results from our Best of Barrington Survey.  We started to unveil our winners last week in the first of our ten survey categories called Out on the Town. And today, we’re sharing our readers’ recommendations for Barrington’s “Bests” in our next category that’s all about health and fitness and called The Active Life.

With The Active Life category, we hoped to get a feel for some of our readers’ favorite fitness experts, facilities and ways to stay in shape here in Barrington.  And the results revealed a great list of local fitness professionals that we’re eager to learn even more about…

Best Fitness Center:  Good Shepherd Health & Fitness

Good Shepherd Health & Fitness received the most votes in our “Best Fitness Center” category, with 38% of our responders naming this facility as their favorite place to shape up.  The 70,000 square foot community health and fitness center at the corner of Barrington Road & Cornell Avenue is part of the Advocate Health Care family of hospitals and medical facilities.  At this center, they take a medical approach to fitness, offering access to state-of-the-art medical resources that impact overall well-being.  Their staff includes exercise specialists, physiologists and licensed therapists dedicated to the integration of prevention, wellness and health education with physical fitness and rehabilitation services.

Next in line, with 24% of the votes received in this category, is CrossFit Barrington, a new elite fitness gym that a team of BHS grads opened in Lake Barrington last September at 28066 Commercial Avenue.  CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists and many professional athletes.  Also receiving votes and high praise in this category are the Barrington Park District, Buehler YMCA, Foglia YMCA, Lifetime Fitness, MidTown and the Lake Barrington Field House.

Best Workout:  CrossFit

CrossFit Barrington came out on top in our “Best Workout” category, receiving 36% of the survey votes.  CrossFit is an hour-long, structured workout with the help of a trainer educated in the techniques.  According to Barrington CrossFit co-owner and BHS grad, Brian Niven, “The workout utilizes functional movements which represent the natural motions we see in daily activities.  That includes exercises like squats, pushups, situps, dips and pullups, lifting and climbing.  We put all of it together in a constantly varied, functional workout performed at a high intensity.”  Brian comes up again later in this survey so continue reading to learn more about his military background and the benefits of CrossFit.

Also receiving multiple votes in this category are the Lake Barrington Field House, Good Shepherd Health and Fitness Center and Jazzercise at the Barrington Park District.

Best Yoga or Pilates:  Nirvana

Nirvana Yoga Studio in downtown Barrington took the top spot, with 27% of the votes cast in our “Best Yoga or Pilates” category.  The instructors at Nirvana say, “In the spirit of yoga, we believe in challenging the status quo and we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by offering a spirited style of Yoga that creatively links the physical poses with the rhythm of the breath, so not just teaching poses, but Yoga.”   They say that, at Nirvana, “You will bend, stretch, breathe, laugh, strengthen and wake up to your life.”  They are “passionate about their work and just happen to teach yoga.”  You can read more about Nirvana, their instructors and their class schedule at

Also receiving many votes in this category are CrossFit Barrington, Margie Wedinger’s class at the Lake Barrington Field House, Pilates by Kristen, Pulsation Yoga and YMCA Centergy sessions.  Several classes at the Barrington Park District received high praise, including Park District yoga with Erin and Nikki Nolan’s Men’s Yoga on Tuesday nights.  I know I’ll be looking into all of these so thank you for some great recommendations!

Best Personal Trainer:  Brian Niven

Our survey produced a great list of recommended personal trainers in Barrington, including the fitness experts at CrossFit who came out on top, receiving 37% of the total votes cast for “Best Personal Trainer”.

Most responders recommended CrossFit head coach and co-owner, Brian Niven, as their top choice for personal trainer in Barrington.  Brian graduated from Barrington High School in 1999 and earned a his Bachelors Degree from Virginia Military Institute and an MBA at Loyola University.  After College, Brian served as an active duty infantry officer with the U.S Army’s 10th Mountain Division.  He was deployed to Iraq for 6 months in 2004 and also served in Afghanistan in 2006 & 2007 before retiring from active duty later that year.  When he returned to Barrington, he developed a passion for CrossFit’s military-style fitness programs and got his start training clients out of a gym that he built in his home garage.

Brian’s business grew and he and his friend, Chris Bluse, opened the area’s only CrossFit training facility at 28066 Commercial Avenue in Lake Barrington in September of 2011.  Today they have a team of seven trainers and have clients ranging in age from 4 to 70-years-old.  “I wanted to spread the results of this program to my community.  I have a vested interested in Barrington.  I was raised here, live here and my kids will grow up here.  We want our town to be as healthy and as fit as possible.  We know we can make a difference in this community as long as I can introduce as many people, young and old, to our program.”  For more information about the trainers and the program, visit

We also received recommendations for a number of other great fitness trainers & role models including CrossFit co-owner, Chris Bluse along with Mary Pahlke, Sue Pomeroy, Nirvana Yoga’s Jean Masusevich, Nikki Nolan at the Barrington Park District, Joanne Graser and Brendan Doyle at the Lake Barrington Field House, Go Hardball Training Academy founder, Kate Mitchum and Good Shepherd Health & Fitness trainers John Carlino, Craig Anding, Kara Aquino and Tim Lanenga.  We also received votes for deceased fitness and nutrition guru, Jack Lalanne.

Best Store for Healthy Living:  Acacia Organics

If you’re looking for a place to purchase personal care and household items produced with your health in mind, most of our survey responders say Acacia Organics in downtown Barrington is the place to go. 

Acacia received 85% of the votes cast in our “Best Store for Healthy Living” category.  Two friends, Registered Nurse Laura Mueller and Nutritional Consultant Judy Zabielski opened Acacia Organics three years ago to fill a need in our community.  “It all started as we were discussing how many toxins we are inundated with on a daily basis.  We are exposed to toxic chemicals through the air we breathe, in the foods we eat and the products that we put on our skin.”  So Laura and Judy opened Acacia “…with the true goal of  helping people live healthier lives.”  To read more about Acacia, their products and services, visit their website at

Also receiving votes in this category are Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Here’s Health, offering a variety of nutritional supplements at 704 S. Northwest Highway.

Best Nature Walk:  Cuba Marsh

With Barrington’s beautiful pastoral and natural landscape, the community offers a number of great options for you to set out and explore nature on foot. 

But 57% of our readers give Cuba Marsh their highest praise for “Best Nature Walk” in Barrington.  Early settlers once drained the marsh to use as farmland.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, many of those farmers started selling their property to investors who hoped to develop homes on the land.  Local residents who wanted the area preserved as open space joined together to form “Citizens for Conservation” and helped the Lake County Forest Preserves protect the property.  Today, Cuba Marsh offers the public three miles of crushed-gravel trail through almost 800 acres of gently rolling hills with views of the marsh, abundant wildlife, plants, flowers and scattered groves of trees.

The entrance to Cuba Marsh and parking area are located on Cuba Road, west of Ela Road and east of Route 59.  The east end of the preserve offers trails suitable for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. Trails to the west end link to a boardwalk connected to more trails that lead to Citizens Park, the next top vote-getter in this category.  Citizens Park features athletic fields, outdoor fireplaces, picnic areas, basketball and tennis courts, playgrounds, a music pavilion and a tree house.  Also receiving votes in the “Best Nature Walk” category are Stillman Nature Center in South Barrington, Bakers Lake Trail, Grassy Lake Trail in Lake Barrington and the golf course at Biltmore Country Club.

Best Dance Studio:  Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble

Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble received the top honors, with 43% of the votes cast for “Best Dance Studio”.  The BYDE is a not for profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1989 which promotes artistic integrity, involvement and awareness through exceptional dance training and performance in the Chicagoland area.  The dance company includes students from age 11 to 18 who audition and, once chosen, undertake a rigorous training program and perform roles in BYDE productions like the annual Nutcracker performance at Barrington High School.  BYDE dancers also participate in community outreach programs, about which you can learn more at

Also receiving votes, rave reviews and recommendations for “Best Dance Studio” are Barrington Dance Academy, Bataille Academy of the Danse, Denise Sabala Dance Studios in Lake Zurich and dance programs offered by the Barrington Park District.

Best Golf Course:  Biltmore & Makray

And finally, we had a top spot tie for “Best Golf Course” with Biltmore Country Club and Makray Memorial Golf Club each receiving 43% of the votes.

Soon after Biltmore Country Club in North Barrington opened in 1926, the club’s golf course quickly gained a reputation as one of Chicago’s finest.  Golfing legends like Sam Snead often graced their fairways. Today, Biltmore’s classic 18-hole course challenges golf lovers of all skill levels.  As a member of the National Audubon Society, Biltmore’s unique natural settings and serene environment offer gorgeous landscaped views at every turn.  The club offers a staff of PGA professionals, private lessons, organized golf events, league play, an esteemed junior program and Pro Shop.  Biltmore’s facilities also include a driving range, putting green, short-game range and full-service men’s and ladies’ locker rooms.

To learn more about golf, tennis, Honey Lake beachfront swimming, dining and the history of Biltmore Country Club, visit their website at

Sharing the top spot for “Best Golf Course” in Barrington is Makray Memorial Golf Club on Northwest Highway.  The course is named for Paul Makray Senior who started the public Thunderbird Golf Course on the site in 1962.  “His vision was to create a joyous and family friendly golfing experience without the exclusion of membership.” Nearly ten years after Paul’s passing, his family decided to honor him by drastically remodeling the course, which re-opened for play in June of 2004.  The premier, 18-hole championship caliber course now offers 7,000 yards with four sets of tees, many water features, strategic bunkers, bent grass tees, fairways and greens, blue grass roughs and beautiful views.

The 24,000 clubhouse was also constructed as part of the redevelopment and features the Oak Terrace Grill restaurant, banquet space for weddings and corporate parties, the charm of an old world manor and spectacular views of the golf course.  For more information, visit

That sums up the results from The Active Life, the second category in our Best of Barrington survey.  CLICK HERE to review the results we revealed last week from our first survey category, called Out on the Town.

Coming up next week, we’ll reveal the results in our next category called Shopping, which includes votes for Best Shopping Center, Art Gallery, Book Store, Gift Shop, Jeweler and Resale Shop.

Then, watch for the results in our Clothing category, followed by categories titled The Best Eats, Sweet Treats, For the Home & Garden, Barrington Services, Health and Beauty and Neighborhoods.

If you’d like to let others know your business or organization received top votes in our 2012 Best of Barrington Survey, we have a digital seal that you’re free to share online.

Email for a custom seal created just for you or copy & paste the following code into your webpage:

<img title=”Voted Best of Barrington” src=”” alt=”” width=”200″ height=”200″ />

Congratulations to all of our winners in this first category and please stay tuned for round two next week as we continue to reveal our readers’ picks for the very Best of Barrington.

In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below if you have any other fitness favorites or recommendations about the best ways to shape up in Barrington.

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