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Annie Padrid 4

Emily Harbourne/MEDILL

Annie Padrid helps a client stretch out after a group session.

'Functioning' in the world, not just the gym

by Emily Harbourne
March 06, 2014

Emily Harbourne/MEDILL

While working out at The Space members can enjoy beautiful views of Hyde Park.


“Hold that plank for five more seconds…. four…. three…don’t you dare drop down…. two…. one.”

Encouraging, motivational and tough, Annie Padrid exudes all three.

A personal trainer for over a decade and now the owner of The Space in Hyde Park, Padrid, 30, brings a new approach to fitness.

It’s what she calls functional training.

“It’s really nice to have great shoulders, a slim waistline and nice butt, but what’s important is that you are able to function outside of the gym,” says Padrid. “It doesn’t matter if you're 12 or 112 what people are interested in is being able to do everything that they need to do once they leave here.”

The goal of functional training is to be prepared for everyday tasks, like walking outside on an icy sidewalk without falling, or climbing a few flights of stairs without getting winded.

“There is a wait list in Hyde Park to be her client,” says Donna Schatt, a client of Padrid's for over eight years. “It’s like an apartment in Manhattan, someone either has to move or die for you to get a space.”

The Space opened in March 2012. Clean and bright, it features sleek maple floors and floor to ceiling windows that encompass the entire gym, allowing for picturesque views of Hyde Park. Treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, weights and even monkey bars provide members with a plethora of workout options.

Padrid has no business background. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in elementary education. But she has created an innovative business model, which is flourishing.

Other trainers can rent The Space to conduct classes or train their own clients. Padrid also offers memberships for those who want to workout on their own.

She now sees around 70 clients every week. They vary in age and fitness level.

Even with a packed schedule, Padrid makes it a top priority to adapt to every client’s needs.

As each client enters for his or her session, Padrid will ask, “How is your shoulder today,” or “how is your hamstring feeling after yesterday’s session.”

She knows each client's finest detail. “Luckily I have a really good memory, so that helps,” she says.

Understanding her clients is essential. “You have to know what they like and what they don’t like and adapt the exercises based on that,” says Padrid. “You modify exercises based on each persons needs.”

While the goal of each workout is to build strength, agility and endurance, she always keeps each session new and exciting.

“I used to get really bored with the monotony of some trainers, but it’s different with Annie every time,” says Valerie Thiel, the Midwest sales director at Wikia. “You don’t use a machine like you think you're going to use it, it's always different and I love that.”

Working out is also very intimate. Clients are trusting Padrid with their bodies and relying on her to prevent them from getting injured.

“I trust her,” says Schatt. “Unlike most trainers, with Annie I trust that she wont make me do something that will result in injury.”

It is not just a physical trust but an emotional one.

Padrid provides both physical coaching and emotional support. Time with Padrid is a chance for clients to vent, complain, discuss and rehash aspects of their personal lives. Padrid listens intently and offers advice when warranted. She is a trainer and a therapist.

“When my clients leave the gym I want them to feel better than when they came in,” says Padrid. “Whether that means physically their hip feels looser or emotionally they feel more comfortable having a conversation with their best friend that didn’t want to have.”