Little Reviews: Hot Ground Gym {Vernon Hills}

Raising kids is not the snuggling, sending them outside to play and hoping for the best that I thought it was.  It is heart-wrenching worry, planning and praying… at least for me.  I read articles, books and blogs about strategies to raise these kids well, to have strong character to be the best people they can be.  This matters to me and since I have a budget for ways to best grow these kids, I overthink every little thing.

Character development comes in so many different packages: team sports, clubs, religious groups, discipline, home structure, neighborhood and modeling.  We have so many options, and this is incredible- yet also so overwhelming.  Have you ever had an experience where you teared up realizing that this is what you want for your kids?  Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but it is absolutely, unequivocally what you’ve always wanted?

Reader friends, meet Hot Ground Gym. I’m not even going to introduce you to the owners/operators of this Northbrook/Vernon Hills based business because these heroes don’t want the recognition and it was never about them in the first place.

Hot Ground Gym offers one free class to anyone who wants to try them out, so I brought my five- and six-year-old children down for a Saturday morning class to see if this was just another fun kids’ place or something different.

hot ground gym vernon hills
© A. Chase | Little Lake | 2017

When we entered the immaculately clean Hot Ground Gym (I should have known, being run by veterans) we were greeted by friendly owners and a technology sign-in space that was quick and easy to understand.  Members are asked to sign-up for class and sign-in every time they come for class to keep clear records and for the safety of all involved.

From there, we passed the washrooms (no changing tables for younger siblings, but the bathroom has a counter that could work) and walked into a large waiting area with a half wall to see the gym.  An instructor was ready and waiting for his group of eager kids and allowed them some free play before class began.  I’m a schedule-driven person, so having the clocks all match my phone and begin on-time was a huge bonus.

hot ground gym vernon hills
© A. Chase | Little Lake | 2017

They wasted no time in the gym. Doug talked with the students in the class about expectations and safety for the day.  They began with simple drills like squats, always explaining safe form.  He walked my children, both first timers, through the obstacles they’d face and allowed other children to demonstrate. He was firm, consistent, and focused.  My kids were going to love this — or hate — the structure.

The mission of Hot Ground Gym is to instill confidence in children based upon their five principles: leadership, critical thinking, teamwork, fitness and discipline.  So… basically everything I want for my kids, these gentlemen have meticulously planned physical fitness around.

hot ground gym vernon hills
© A. Chase | Little Lake | 2017

This class is fast-paced but focused.  They don’t run through obstacles aimlessly — the coaches are watching — encouraging and coaching kids to accountability.  (No skipping stuff like my little man did!) If they do not succeed at first, they do it again until they find a way to succeed. Its the warrior mindset –never give up, always find a way — that is present here.  Participants are corrected, not disciplined, and what a difference those two styles make.  These children are encouraged to never be afraid of failure,  because succeeding is not a prize.

HOt Ground Gym Vernon Hills
© A. Chase | Little Lake | 2017

As a mom, it was hard to watch my two (youngest in the class) kids be passed and caught on certain obstacles.  But the pride when they figured it out?  That’s so hard to explain.  My five-year-old climbed over a wall well over his head because he watched other people do it; and he worked with his sister and he figured out just how strong he is.  My daughter was the only girl in the class and learned how to safely maneuver down a rope in minutes.

hot ground gym vernon hills
© A. Chase | Little Lake | 2017

It is evident in every detail that growing these children to be good humans is a priority of Hot Ground Gym. The team building activities and mission-based training sessions are constantly changed to make no two weeks the same.

Doug and Paul opened Hot Ground Gym because they had common experiences and a common goal of educating to make the world a better place.  They recognized what it takes to lead well and developed the most exciting and effective strategy I have ever seen.  They also hired top notch people to bring their dream to life: all first responders and veterans — real life heroes.

hot ground gym vernon hills
© A. Chase | Little Lake | 2017

They planned so well that children who participate pass through a ranking structure (much of the gym is modeled after the military, but all in great ways, I promise!).  Red is when they grow in strength and determination, white is more focused on teamwork, and finally, blue is leadership.  My favorite part?  To be a blue leader, you must first learn how to serve.  The gentlemen check up on these children, they hold them accountable.  “Do you know who Mother Theresa was?  Ghandi?  You will not be a leader in this gym until you know these names and learn to serve first. You cannot lead until you serve.”

That’s powerful.  That’s the inspiration that comes from Hot Ground Gym.

Sold yet?  I cannot come up with enough words to describe this, you must take your kids to see for themselves.  Children in grades K-8 are welcome in Northbrook or Vernon Hills, where they will be welcomed and challenged to reach their full potential.  Parents of children with special needs are encouraged to call the gym to discuss possible accommodations.

hot ground gym vernon hills
© A. Chase | Little Lake | 2017

This gym offers more than a membership for a few classes a week.  Birthday parties are run just like class, engaging every attendee promising an exciting adventure.  Bored this summer or looking for something that will grow your child from the inside out?  Check out the Leadership Summer Camp that Hot Ground Gym offers promising the most unique camp experience around.  What I’ve learned from these guys is what they promise, they deliver.

After my kids’ class, I was ready to sign up.  I was impressed. Paul first asked my children if this was what they wanted.  My daughter was all in, no questions asked.  My son is… lazy and told us he wasn’t interested, but we signed him up anyway.  If you know me personally, your jaw is probably on the floor because I do not sign my kids up for much.  We’re on a tight budget, but if we have to choose one thing, I have no doubt that this is it.

Hot Ground Gym- Vernon Hills
960 Woodlands Parkway, Vernon Hills | (847) 239-5697
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Original Location:
1938 Raymond Dr., Northbrook


Come to our first stop of Rock the Playground with Advocate Condell and meet Hot Ground Gym and try out their on-site obstacle course. registration for the playdate opens on Friday!

Disclosure: Hot Ground Gym is a co-sponsor of the first stop in the Rock the Playground Tour. This review and the sample class were provided as part of that exchange. No compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are the writers own.

About Alli 46 Articles
Alli is a boldly authentic mom to three- because who has time to fake it? She enjoys almost all things that moms get to do and strives to find joy in every day. Along with her supportive husband, Alli can be seen (or heard) around Lake County chasing runaway children, eating ice cream and holding someone's hand.

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