Five Questions: Getting Personal With Trainer Heidi Childers

By Stephanie Sack | Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Heidi Childers. Credit: Stephanie Sack

After a stint in the advertising industry, Heidi Childers broke free of office life and arrived at Orange Shoe Personal Fitness (3845 N. Lincoln Ave.) as a personal trainer, where she works closely with clients in the heart of Northcenter. She also recently created a proprietary training program for the Chicago Outfit roller derby team. Childers is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and American Council on Exercise, and in 2011 she obtained her MS in applied exercise physiology from UIC. She is currently a student in clinical massage at the Soma Institute.

CSJ: Describe Orange Shoe — what it is and how it differs from other personal training studios.

Heidi Childers: Orange Shoe Personal Fitness is a boutique-style personal training studio in the Northcenter neighborhood. We officially opened our doors in November 2010, so we’ve been open for about a year and a half now. As for what makes us different … I think a lot of things make us different. Our entire value system is built around the client experience, so everything we do comes back to helping them be successful in whatever they’re trying to do. We re-visit goals and re-assess on a regular basis to keep them focused and on track. For us, it’s more than having our clients come into the studio and “punch in,” so to speak. We try to keep them motivated and challenged constantly. We also team-train, meaning our clients work with our entire team of trainers versus just one. We pool our knowledge and resources to provide the best service that we possibly can, and it helps us as trainers grow and improve, too.

How long have you worked at Orange Shoe and what is your professional background? What do you like best about being a personal trainer?

I started at Orange Shoe when Wade Anderson, the owner, first opened the Chicago location. For me, it actually happened at the perfect time because I was tired of working independently as a trainer, but I didn’t want to go back to a large gym setting. Prior to my work in fitness, I was in the advertising media industry, planning and buying digital media at Starcom and Burrell on a few different accounts. While I still find the industry fascinating, I felt like I wanted to work more closely with people in a more personal way. My favorite part of working here at Orange Shoe is getting to experience our clients’ collective successes with them on a daily basis. We’re lucky to have a pretty amazing bunch of clients — all such interesting characters and blasts to work with. I’m also really grateful for the team I work alongside every day. They’re brilliant in different ways, and I learn something new literally every day. Not many jobs provide that kind of constant education and growth.

Why did Orange Shoe choose to open in Northcenter? What characteristics of the neighborhood make it a good fit for this business?

This is probably a question most fitting for Wade since he owns this location. However, I do know that he scoured the city to find the perfect location, so that says a lot for this neighborhood. It’s a great up-and-coming part of the city with great residents and small businesses. I love it because we actually know our neighbors, and I can’t even say the same for where I live. The majority of our clients live in and around the neighborhood, so it’s convenient for them. They can just walk over so they don’t have any excuses.

Orange Shoe is such an unusual name with vivid imagery. How did it come to be?

This is probably the question we get most often, and while we normally share the story with clients when they ask, we like to keep it a mystery sometimes. I’ll just say that it started with the founder and CEO of Orange Shoe (up in Madison, Wis.), and his obsession with sneakers at the time. One thing we know for sure is that the name sticks. It may not be terribly obvious what we do here when “Personal Fitness” isn’t at the end of the name, but once you hear about us, it stays with you.

Orange Shoe is the exclusive trainer for the Chicago Outfit, the roller derby team. What is it like working with those kick-ass gals?

This is something that is actually quite near and dear to my heart. My hair stylist was one of the founding members of the Chicago Outfit, so every trip to her chair has included some conversation about roller derby. When my old roommate started skating with them, I wanted her to stay injury-free as much as possible, and we worked out a sponsorship. For the past two seasons, we’ve been working with them at their off-skates practices, and it’s been so much fun to get to know them and learn about roller derby. The skaters have to be so strong and powerful to survive roller derby because it can get really rough. I find it challenging because there’s almost zero precedent for how to train roller derby skaters off-skates, so I have to take different sports and mash them all together to make it work for them specifically. It’s all worth it when they have more energy, stamina, power, strength and less injuries.

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