Healthcare N Illinois

Biggest Loser targets Midwest with opening of resort in Chicago suburb

The Biggest Loser isn't just a TV show -- albeit an extremely popular one -- on NBC. No, it's an entire weight-loss and fitness empire. And the Midwest is about to find this out.

[caption id="attachment_23155" align="alignleft" width="425" caption="The lap pool at the new Biggest Loser Resort outside Chicago"] The Biggest Loser isn't just a TV show -- albeit an extremely popular one -- on NBC. No, it's an entire weight-loss and fitness empire.

And the Midwest is about to find this out.

The country's fourth Biggest Loser Resort -- a weight-loss and wellness resort inspired by the NBC show -- will welcome its first guests June 9 in the Chicago suburb of Itasca. The Biggest Loser Resort will actually set up shop inside an existing resort, the Eaglewood Resort & Spa. The new resort, though, will add such facilities as a basketball court, climbing wall and indoor pool.

And, in keeping with the NBC TV show from which the resort is spun off, camaraderie is the key. Guests who sign up for the new resort -- the resort requires a one-week minimum stay, but guests at Biggest Loser resorts tend to stay an average of three weeks -- will stay in a group of rooms set aside specifically for them. Resort guests will also work out together in a group, learning about nutrition and weight-loss strategies together.

Larry Bond, chief executive officer of Chicago's Bond Industries and CEO, too, of Biggest Loser Resort, says that this group dynamic sets Biggest Loser resorts apart from other health and wellness spas.

"Our guests work together toward their individual goals," Bond said. "They create friendships. At our resort, we help our guests form lifelong friendships. People come back to our resorts year after year together with the people they first met when they first met at one of our facilities."

The Itasca location will mark the fourth Biggest Loser Resort, following openings in Irvins, Utah; Malibu, Calif.; and Niagara Falls, N.Y. The Itasca location, though, is the first in the Midwest.

Bond said that opening a resort in the Midwest makes sense for the Biggest Loser. Many of the resort chain's current customers come from the Midwest, Bond said, and they've been asking for a location closer to them. At the same time, companies in the Midwest have been asking the Biggest Loser to develop corporate wellness programs for them.

"This location in suburban Chicago allows us to access 8 to 9 million people right in the Chicago area," Bond said.

Opening the resort within the existing Eaglewood Resort & Spa made sense, too, Bond said. Eaglewood already boasted several of the amenities that Biggest Loser resorts feature. Eaglewood has a 30,000-square-foot fitness and spa center a 750-foot-long indoor pool. It has a six-lane bowling alley and a top-ranked golf course.

"All of those physical amenities were ideal for the kind of programs we are planning to run in Chicago," Bond said.

The resort will offer not only exercise programs, but also cooking classes, nutrition classes and a lecture series, Bond said. This latest Biggest Loser Resort will even offer a class geared toward brides and grooms who want to get healthy before they get married. This makes sense; Eaglewood does a brisk wedding business.

"Partnering with a resort like Eaglewood is a great model for us," Bond said. "You can't physically create a resort like Eaglewood. For us to go and build an Eaglewood would take us years to do. And even then, we wouldn't get the superb location that Eaglewood enjoys. Partnering with the resort is an excellent opportunity for us and for them. It allows Eaglewood to to fill room inventory that in this last recession can be difficult to fill. It allows them to offer different services to their existing corporate customers. From our perspective, it allows us to get into a tremendous physical space."