COACH Spotlight

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Vanessa Reakes

A little about me: 

I grew up in McHenry, where I met my husband, John, in High School.  We live in Gurnee with our two children: Julia (14) and Michael (11).  I was an elementary school teacher for many years and this year I became an instructional coach for teachers in Highland Park.  When I am not coaching teachers or coaching you at HG, I am driving my daughter to and from dance, my son to taekwondo, and trying to keep up with their busy middle school social lives. As a family, we love spending warm summer days on our boat and taking trips together.

My journey into teaching group fitness:

Growing up I was always in a dance class and I was on the Varsity Pom team.  Even though I was active, I struggled with my weight all my life.  I was always average, neither fit nor fat. However, as an adult I gained a significant amount of weight before, during, and after having kids.  The stress young kids, and my son has Level 1 Autism, along with juggling a full-time job resulted in me NOT taking care of myself.  I was angry, anxious, and uncomfortable in my own skin...


By 2011, I was about 60 pounds heavier than I am now and about 7 dress sizes larger.  In July of that year, I joined Weight Watchers with a goal to lose 30 pounds.  I committed myself to getting healthy and reached that 30-pound goal. I stayed focused and before I knew it, that 30 became 60, and I have maintained that weight loss since 2012.  


It was not until AFTER I lost the weight that I even thought about exercising.  I dabbled in a few Zumba classes, I tried “Jump Aerobics” at the trampoline park (fun once I got past peeing my pants every time I jumped!)  Then I tried a cycle class – and I hated it! But I had 3 free classes - so of course I had to use them. By the end of the third class, my saddle soreness was gone, and I was addicted. After only a few months of classes I decided to go out on a limb and get certified to teach cycle.  I taught cycle for 2 years and realized that I wanted to do more with fitness. 


In 2017 I got my ACE Group Fitness certification. I began teaching Barre right away. Somewhere in that time frame I also took my first yoga class...and hated it! I vowed I was never going back. Notice a pattern here? Had I given up every time I said that I would, I would never be where I am now.  Here I am nine years later, teaching Cycle, Bootcamp, Barre, and even, Yoga!  I am loving every minute of it each format brings a level of balance to my fitness. 


I have found that even after the weight loss, I need to continue to focus on staying committed to my nutrition goals. It has become less about the number on the scale or the size of my pants, and more about how I feel (I don’t even own a scale anymore).  When I start to feel like I am reverting to old habits or feel low energy, I go back to focusing on healthy choices and watching my portions. It is all about balance. Even with all the fitness classes I teach, I know I cannot out-exercise an unhealthy diet. 


When I read members comments about being thankful to the HG community for supporting them, encouraging them to try new things, and pushing them outside their comfort zone, I cheer from the top of my lungs, “Me too!”  I am right there with you - working toward my own goals, challenging myself to try new things, and constantly stepping outside my comfort zone right alongside of you!

The song or quote that motivates me when I need a lift or that makes me want to ‘crush it’:

I swear I have music pumping through my veins and no matter what my mood is I can find something to match it or lift it!  From classic rock or alternative, to techno, gangster rap, or soul crushing ballads - I seriously love it all and what I am listening to changes with my mood.

My words to live by right now:

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage, or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” - Brene Brown

Two fun facts about me:

I became an ordained minister to officiate my sister’s wedding! 

I had a job releasing doves (ok, passenger pigeons) at weddings while I was in college.

Food & Recovery

Pre-workout I grab a banana or a piece of fruit - something light that boosts my blood sugar. Post-workout I go for something higher in protein.  After morning classes I like eggs or peanut butter on toast, and after an evening class I eat a light dinner - usually fish or chicken and a veggie.


My splurge/ guilty pleasure is:

Pizza, Doritos - anything salty or savory.  I could leave cookies and cake behind and never look back, but the salty snack food is my guilty pleasure!


How I recover:

I love to take a hot jacuzzi bath with Epsom salts.

HG Coaches

Heather Fahrenkrog

Heather Fahrenkrog

Heather Fahrenkrog

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Heather is a lawyer-turned-fitness studio owner.  She is a Platinum member of the Todd Durkin Mastermind Group and she is on the Board of Directors for MainStreet Libertyville. 

Heather found her true purpose: motivating her community to find balanced fitness and feel great! She is ACE Certified, Yoga Alliance certified, among numerous other certifications, and a former endurance athlete.  

FUSION is her sweet spot! Check out the way she blends disciplines in every class.

Jen Neumann

Heather Fahrenkrog

Heather Fahrenkrog

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Jen was an endurance athlete and she is ACE Certified, Yoga Alliance certified, among numerous other certifications. Jen's calm, confident coaching style make PiYo Power, YogaSHRED, Strength & Power, and her cycling classes workouts you don't want to miss! 

Lindsey Lee

Heather Fahrenkrog

Kristin Sorensen

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Lindsey is ACE Certified, Yoga Alliance certified, World of Dance U-Jam Coach, among numerous other certifications. She has show-stopping energy and a wicked body roll ... come get your goove on with her in U-Jam, POWERride, Cycle & Strength, and HOT POWERflow. 

Kristin Sorensen

Kristin Sorensen

Kristin Sorensen

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Kristin is ACE Certified and she was a collegiate basketball player. She loves an athletic-style workout! Kristin will inspire you to push out of your comfort zone every time in Circuit Training, Peak Performance, and Kettlebell Strength.

Sarah Roe

Kristin Sorensen

Bailey Hall

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Sarah is AFAA and Schwinn Cycle Certified and she brings her BIG energy and love of fitness to every class! Check out her CycleCORE, Cycle & Strength, POWERride, and HIIT Chaos classes!

Bailey Hall

Kristin Sorensen

Bailey Hall

Bailey Hall

Bailey is AFAA Certified, Yoga Alliance certified and Schwinn Cycle Certified.  Check out Monday night and Wednesday morning barre, and find her on the bike at HG Cycle!

Marilyn Rehmer

Marilyn Rehmer

Marilyn Rehmer

Marilyn Rehmer

Marilyn is AFAA and Schwinn Cycle Certified and she has the most welcoming smile and a fabulous playlist for every class! Look for her in Barre FIGHT, BarreBLAST, and on the bike at HG Cycle!

Vanessa Reakes

Marilyn Rehmer

Marilyn Rehmer

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 Vanessa Reakes is ACE certified and working toward her Yoga Alliance certification. She has a love of moving to the beat both at the barre and on the bike! Check out CycleCORE, BarreBEAT and Bootcamp!  

Tina Abrego

Marilyn Rehmer

Tina Abrego

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Tina is an endurance athlete, a certified SCW Group Exercise Instructor, and a certified Schwinn Indoor Cycling Instructor. Tina's true LOVE of cycling shows in every class - join her in CycleCORE and POWERride.

Rachel Miller

Stephanie Bersh

Tina Abrego

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Rachel is ACE Certified and a Doctor of Physical Therapy and certified Pilates instructor - she is 'The Pilates PT.' Rachel loves promoting balance and wellness. 

Don't miss her fabulous Pilates Mix. 

Cassie Clark

Stephanie Bersh

Stephanie Bersh

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 Cassie is Yoga Alliance certified. Her welcoming vibe and fun playlists make all of her classes feel so good … try her HOT yogaFLOW on Tuesdays, POWERflow on Fridays, and STRETCH! on Sundays.

Stephanie Bersh

Stephanie Bersh

Stephanie Bersh

Stephanie Bersh

Stephanie is Yoga Alliance certified and she brings her warmth and gentle touch to HOT Slow Flow on Thursdays. Her classes will leave you feeling centered, restored and connected. 

Kristen Sheridan

Kristen Sheridan

Kristen Sheridan

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 Kristen is AFAA Certified and a former professional dancer who brings her infectious enthusiasm to every class - you'll always get a high energy workout.

Check out Warm Barre on Mondays and Strength & Power on Thursdays. 

Katie Tilton

Kristen Sheridan

Kristen Sheridan

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Katie is an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor and Schwinn Cycle Certified. Katie believes every workout should be empowering and also good, sweaty fun! Look for her in 3-2-1 HIIT and on the bike at HG Cycle.

Kim Yessian

Kristen Sheridan

Kim Yessian

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Kim is a former endurance athlete, AFAA Certified, Yoga Alliance certified, among numerous other certifications. 

Look for Kim to return this Summer!

#unstoppablekim

Marsha Kolb

Noel Terrill

Kim Yessian

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Marsha is ACE Certified, Yoga Alliance certified, among numerous other certifications. Marsha is a guest instructor who will delight you with her Yin Yoga this Spring!

Noel Terrill

Noel Terrill

Noel Terrill

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Noel is a certified World of Dance U-Jam instructor and is a Guest HG U-Jam Instructor. 

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