Working mom heads to the gym
Ana Santos Gitzinger opened Orinoco Fitness in Libertyville in November. | Joe Shuman~Sun-Times Media
ADDRESS: 116 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville
Updated: March 25, 2013 1:18AM
LIBERTYVILLE — Local resident Ana Santos Gitzinger always wanted to run her own business.
Her dream came true Nov. 26 when she opened Orinoco Fitness Inc., a studio offering Zumba, pilates and yoga classes.
As she sat in the welcome area inside her studio, Gitzinger explained that her business’ namesake is the Orinoco River, which runs through her Venezuelan homeland. She gestured to the logo which depicts the mountain-like tabletop formations, which she said rise higher than the clouds.
A blissful, cloud nine experience is what Gitzinger wants to offer her customers, and it starts with flexibility, she said.
Unlike a traditional gym, there are no contracts and a lot of classes that you don’t have to register for once you buy a pass. That pass will not expire for a full calendar year.
Gitzinger said she saw a clear need when trying to take Zumba classes herself. She said she came up with the idea to open a studio because she was a dissatisfied customer of group workout classes at gyms. For one, she didn’t like that the studios were in the open and everyone can see you working out.
“You can get crazy [here] and shake your butt, because no one is looking at you,” she said.
Gitzinger also said she didn’t like the scheduling of Zumba, pilates and yoga classes at her gym and believed they didn’t conform to the typical daily schedules of participants, especially moms.
Before setting her class times, Gitzinger surveyed working and stay-at-home moms to find out when it’s most convenient for them to work out.
A working mom herself, Gitzinger has two boys, ages 9 and 5. She recalled the difficulty of striking a balance between home and career when she worked in marketing and product development for Motorola and Proctor & Gamble.
“When I was at Motorola, I was going insane,” Gitzinger said.
She eventually left the corporate world to focus on her sons and started teaching part-time at the College of Lake County. That’s where she discovered the Illinois Small Business Development Center, which was two doors down from her classroom.
The center provides free advice to small businesses in Lake County, and Gitzinger made use of their services when writing a business plan and everything else she had to do to prepare for being a business owner.
The plan to open her business got put on the fast track when she found what she believed was a perfect location.
“When I found this space, I thought I have to do this now,” she said. “It was faster than I planned, but there is risk in everything in life.”
Risk was how it all began when Gitzinger left Venezuela at age 16 to pursue a scholarship from her government to study in the U.S.
Her mom, also a working mother, urged her to go even though it meant sending her young daughter to a foreign country. Gitzinger said she knows not every mother would have done that willingly, and she’s grateful that her mom was so fearless.
Gitzinger seems to have inherited that trait as she embarks on this new chapter of her professional life. Her plans are ambitious and include eventually having classes for seniors and franchising the business concept to other locations. When asked about her vision, she makes it clear that she aims high.
“From a group exercise standpoint, I want to be the best,” she said.