Teammate of the Month | Peggy M

The regular—every gym has one. Paramount certainly does. And this one we’re more than happy to have around, all the time. She’s Peggy Mitchell. Chances are you’ve seen her, most likely kicking your ass in the workout of the day. She might move quickly, but we managed to catch up with her to get to know her a little better. So take a minute, catch your breath, and get to know Peggy— our early morning rising, long distance rowing, Dave Matthews loving Teammate of the Month.

20150805_065123 (2)

Where did you grow up?

Chicago. Southside Irish!

You’ve been a member from the beginning, starting in April 2012. What keeps you coming back week after week?  

The results. I feel I am in the best overall condition of my life.

At work, what do you do on a typical day?

I’m the director for clinical research support services at Northwestern University. A typical day is composed of being in meetings as well as planning and implementing ways to increase our research enterprise. Interpretation: I sit a lot.

When do you typically workout?

I do the really fun Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 6:00 am workouts. I also do the Saturday Rowing class and Sunday Mobility class.

What are some of your favorite things to do (besides working out obviously)?

Favorite things are hanging out with my awesome kids and friends.

What’s something about you that people at the gym might not know?

I competed in swimming, synchronized swimming, and water polo for 18 years.

Why did you first start coming to Paramount?

Megan invited me to a workout to try it out, and I got hooked. I’ve been coming ever since.

What can you do now in workouts that you couldn’t do before?  

Too many things to list, but I was pretty excited when I completed the Reckless Rowathon last year.

What’s your favorite exercise / workout?  

I have a love/hate relationship with the Saturday rowing workouts. It’s my favorite but it’s also the hardest.


Okay, desert island time. If you were stuck on one, what would you bring of the following?

  • Movies / TV shows?

DVDs of the West Wing series

  • Books?

Anything James Carroll

  • Food?


  • Music?

Dave Matthews

What we measure and why it’s important.

We love data. To us, it’s actionable metrics. It provides the hard truth. There’s no arguing with it. And better yet, it helps you (yes, you dear fitness buff) stay accountable to your goals. Quite simply, it provides vital information on how we (yes, we your beloved trainers) can improve our programming and deliver better resources to help you succeed.  This week we’re going to be completing our Fitness Test and adding in a new measurement called the Functional Movement Screen.  That’s why we want to spend a minute to explain how we use data with our Strength Program, the Fitness Test, Body Composition Measurements, and, now, the Functional Movement Screen. 


Strength Program


One of our main focuses in the small group classes is to build “pure” strength.  We follow Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program because it’s incredibly simple to follow, especially in a group setting. More importantly, it works. In it, there are four main lifts: deadlift, squat, bench press, and overhead press.  When you join our classes, you’ll spend anywhere from four to eight weeks improving your technique before doing a four-rep max test.  This will determine your weights moving forward. The table below outlines how it works. 

  Reps / Percent of 4 rep max
Week One 5 reps at 65% 5 reps at 75% 5+ reps at 85%
Week Two 4 reps at 70% 3 reps at 80% 3+ reps at 90%
Week Three 5 reps at 75% 3 reps at 85% 1+ reps at 95%
Week Four 5 reps at 40% 5 reps at 50% 5 reps at 60%



Helps you gain strength through consistent, methodical movements.


Fitness Test


Every two to three months we spend a few days completing a fitness test. In two minutes, you give it your all to max out on push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. And let’s not forget finding your best time in the 2,000 meter row.


Test Time
Max # of Push-ups 2 Minutes
Max # of Sit-ups 2 Minutes
Max # of Squats 2 Minutes

2,000 Meter row


Measures and tests your cardiovascular endurance.


Body Composition


We take about nine circumference measurements every six to eight weeks from those of you looking to change your body composition.  This is a free service that we offer every other week on Sundays.  In addition to the circumference measurements, we do a three-pinch skin fold test to calculate body fat percentage. We’ll also measure your current weight and take a few pictures.


Helps you stay accountable to your goals related to weight loss and toning up.



Functional Movement Screen


The Functional Movement System (FMS) is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns key to basic human movement. Adding the FMS screen to our training will give us more information on what corrective exercises we need to implement and if there are any exercises or movement patterns that you’ll need to avoid.


Improves the quality of your movement. After all, here at Paramount we care about quality more than quantity.

Teammate of the Month| Fred W

It’s time to introduce you to yet another one of our star players. This time around, I want to put the spotlight on Jesse…I mean Fred…erm Jesse (well, I’ll let him clarify his name for you). A regular early bird, Jesse (or is it Fred?) likes to work out in the morning given the busy days that lie ahead for him. As a product manager for a small company called WyzAnt, he leads a team of developers and designers who’ve been focused on building apps that help students find a tutor faster. In fact, he’ll proudly tell you the Android app just came out and the iPhone one will be available soon. Being in charge of all of the planning, strategy, business analysis, and project management, he spends a lot of his time wearing a lot of different hats to help his team solve problems. With a day like that, it only makes sense to get his workouts out of the way first thing in the morning. Now, I’ll let him take it away from here.


So, first off, what is your actual name?

My real name is Jesse. My parents have called me Fred (or Fred-O) for as long as I can remember, and, honestly, no one really remembers how that started. I do know that before I was Fred, my nickname was Meatball. So I guess I'm happy the second one stuck.

Where are you from?

I moved around some as a kid, but I think of New York as home. My whole family is from in and around the Bronx, so we'd always go back there for holidays and vacations. I was born in Washington, DC. I then moved to New Jersey, then Dallas, and then wound up on Long Island before moving here 15 years ago.

For those who don’t know you (yet), which classes do you prefer at Paramount?

I typically do the 6am classes with Alex at least four times per week. Lately, I've been throwing the Rowing Boot Camp with Megan into the mix on Saturdays, too.




So in those rare moments you’re outside the gym or work, where do you like to hang out?

I love Lula. It's been so consistently great throughout all of the years I've lived in Chicago, and I really enjoy popping in and eating at the bar they built a few years ago. I've also recently been obsessed with a drink there called the Bunny Slope, which has carrot juice in it, so that must mean it's healthy.

Putting you on the spot. Tell me something really unique about you.

I've been to all 48 contiguous states while touring in a couple of bands. I still play shows in Chicago from time to time.

So why did you first start coming to Paramount?

I first started coming to Paramount because I badly needed a kick in the ass. Things were spinning out of control a little bit for me at work, and I figured exercise and my health were things I could take control of at that moment. Other workout plans I'd tried over the years didn't stick for various reasons, and I was looking for a place where I'd feel comfortable, motivated, and challenged, all while staying close to my home. I tried out Paramount based on some Yelp reviews, and I'm so glad I did. Going to Paramount has easily been one of the best decisions I've ever made. The progress I've experienced and the changes I’ve felt over the past six months have been life-affirming.

What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?

Man. So much. I was crazy out-of-shape before coming to Paramount. I think I've made the most progress, though, with my squats. I'm finally no longer squatting to a box, and while I'm not moving a ton of weight, the progress I've made in terms of overall flexibility, mobility, and my form is unbelievable to me.

Do you have any preferred workouts?

I really like deadlifting and any sort of timed workout where I can push myself to squeeze in an extra set before time is up. I was a competitive runner in high school, and while I was never all that great, I still like that moment where you push yourself just a little bit further than you think you're capable of going to try to beat your time or another runner.




The Fitness Test

Every two-months or so, we’ll dedicate a class to only four workouts. And as lax as that sounds, the truth is I can hear your collective sighs on those days. That’s because a class focused on push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and rowing is otherwise known as the “Fitness Test.” 20150819_063457


For those of you who don’t know, it consists of:

  • 2 minutes of push-ups
  • 2 minutes of sit-ups
  • 2 minutes of squats
  • 2,000m row


You love to hate it, and frankly, I think we’ve all come to hate to love it. But love it or hate it, the reality is the Fitness Test is a necessity. It establishes the baseline for your performance moving forward with us, and best of all, it gives us measurable data on your progress. Sure it might be vomit inducing (yes, this has happened before), but once you push yourself to sprint that last 100 meters on the rower, and you high five your fellow sweat-drenched colleagues, you should feel nothing but pride on what you just achieved—improvement.

In fact, based on our last few Fitness Tests, we’ve seen some remarkable improvement. While I’ll preserve anonymity, I want to point out these awesome stats:

  • The median # of push-ups was 39 with the top performer finishing with 52
  • The median # of sit-ups was 57 with the top performer finishing with 86
  • The median # of squats was 78 with the top performer finishing with 93
  • The median 2,000m row was just under 9 ½ minutes and three of you finished in under 8 minutes!!!

So I hope I shed a little light on why we conduct the Fitness Test. And I can’t wait to see you guys for our next one. While you curse my name throughout it all, I’ll be there through it all, cheering you on as you no doubt show improvement.

Athlete Profile: Lauren Rosemeyer

To kick off our new series “Athlete Profile,” we’re helping you get to know a familiar face—Lauren Rosemeyer. If you happen to frequent Paramount’s evening classes, then you’ve definitely seen her in there working up a sweat. As an accountant with a private equity firm in the Loop, Lauren spends her days (and, unfortunately, sometimes nights) sitting at a desk, staring at Excel files. With that kind of schedule, we were curious what drives her to come into the gym…and what drives her in general. 

First off, when do you typically like to work out?

Everyone knows I am NOT a morning person. I am a frequent attendee of the 7:15 PM classes. I also try to go for some good runs with my dog on weekends.


Why did you first start coming to Paramount?

It answered all of my lame excuses for not working out, such as:

  • “I don’t know how”—Well, that’s why Alex, Megan, and Kim are there to help. And they’re all very approachable and knowledgeable.
  • “I don’t have time”—Paramount’s night classes work well for me. Plus, I can burn through an entire season of a TV show in a week, so I definitely have time to spare.
  • “It’s not fun”—I love the community aspect of Paramount, and I enjoy spending time with everyone there. The people make it fun.


What can you do now that you couldn’t before?

Real pushups!


And what’s your favorite workout?

Deadlift. It’s my strongest lift. Make sure you tell people I can deadlift 162 pounds!  But make me sound humble about it.


Hey, there’s no need for humility when it comes to deadlifts. Anyway, what’s something people at the gym might not know about you?

Before Paramount, I hadn’t exercised since mandatory P.E. classes in high school, and I don’t even think that counts. My P.E. teacher used to let us pay $5 to get out of class for the day, and I often took him up on that offer. When I started training in November 2013, I only ran when I had to catch the bus. I never even lifted weights. I was truly starting from zero and can’t believe how far I’ve come since then.


What’s your favorite place to eat in Logan Square?  

Parson’s. They have great fried chicken, hush puppies, and coleslaw. And they make great micheladas that I cannot replicate at home despite many attempts.


You can’t beat fried chicken and cocktails. So, we have to ask, what’s your favorite place to grab a drink?

The Boiler Room in Logan Square. They have cool bathrooms…which sound a little weird, but you’ll know if you go there. Plus, they have good beer on draft and an outdoor patio.


We know the season is winding down, but tell us about your favorite thing about Chicago summers.

I’m getting a lot of use out of my grill, and I enjoy eating outside. My least favorite is probably all the slack-lining going on in Palmer Square.


Okay, okay, with the cold fast approaching though, it’s time to hunker down and catch up on TV. Who’s your favorite Game of Thrones character?

Jon Snow. He’s loyal, smart, attractive, and unavailable. He’s the perfect man…err…character I mean.


Of course, what’s a Q&A without a deserted island question? If you were stuck on one, what would you bring of the following:

Movies / TV shows?

30Rock. I’ve seen every episode at least three times, and each time is funnier than the last. And Tracey Jordan gives some great advice on the show. “Live every week like it’s shark week.”



The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. They’re very smart and completely absurd at the same time. A lot of fun to read, but don’t bother with the movie that came out in 2005 (sorry Zooey Deschanel and Mos Def).



I would stock up on sriracha, good mustard, salt, and my favorite spices in hopes that I could put them to use with whatever I find on the island. Oh, and lots of coffee and red wine if you can count those as food.



I love Beyoncé at the gym, but I would go with Led Zeppelin on the island. Their music runs the entire spectrum from ethereal to heavy rock, often in the same song. And Robert Plant is a big Lord of the Rings fan, which I can definitely relate to.