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Flexibility key at National Fitness Hall of Fame
By Ron Skrabacz | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 3/4/2009 12:07 AM

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A basic component of physical fitness is flexibility, and that is exactly what the National Fitness Hall of Fame & Museum had to demonstrate with plans for its fifth annual induction ceremony.

The March 15 event originally was scheduled to take place at the Oak Meadows Golf Club in Addison, but that facility sustained severe fire damage a week ago.

Hall of Fame officials, however, quickly changed venues and the ceremony and dinner will go on as planned at the Glendale Lakes Golf Club, 1550 President St., Glendale Heights. The reception starts at 6 p.m.

Ten new inductees will be added to the already impressive list of more than 40 individuals and four organizations, which include such notables as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Atlas and Vic Tanny. This year's inductees include two-time Olympic gold medalist pole vaulter Bob Richards along with the first couple to be inducted together, Dr. Philip and Nancy Claussen of Oak Brook.

Hall of Fame Executive Director and Founder John Figarelli is excited not only about the class being inducted for 2009, but also the special awardees, Dr. Bob Delmonteque and Betty Scarimbolo. Delmonteque will be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.

"Dr. Bob Delmonteque is going to be 90 this year," Figarelli said. "He's been around for a long time. He was one of the original trainers. He trained Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and quite a list of clients."

Delmonteque, America's premier senior fitness consultant, also looks better in his 80s than most men half his age.

Scarimbolo, owner of Naperville's Fitness Together, will be recognized as the Rising Star of the Year.

"Betty's a Rising Star," Figarelli said. "We started that last year to try and recognize those individuals with less than five years in the business, but really doing a bang up job. We want to try to encourage them to keep on going so they may someday become a Hall of Famer themselves."

A Volunteer of the Year Award also will be presented to Bartlett's Tom Meredith, who Figarelli says has been instrumental in fundraising, collection and motivation.

According to the Web site, becoming a Fitness Hall of Famer requires that an individual has reached the age of 45 and has 20 or more years of full-time service as a professional in the health and fitness industry with a nationally recognized body of work. They also must practice a "fitness lifestyle" while showing a genuine concern for the welfare of others. (The age and service requirements may be raised five years for future nominees.)

"It's a lifetime thing for these people," Figarelli said. "You don't want to just do it for your career and then say I'm done with fitness. This is a lifestyle. It's their life."

There are a variety of ways to be a part of the fitness industry and the Fitness Hall of Fame recognizes this with six induction categories - pioneers, educators, instructors, sports medicine, celebrity spokesperson and organizations.

Since Figarelli founded the Hall of Fame on Dec. 2, 2004, it has gained a stature among those in the fitness industry. Former inductees regularly return to participate in the ceremony and dinner. This year will see inductees Dr. Bob Goldman (2006), Gilad Jankowicz (2007) and 2008 inductees Tamilee Webb, Bob Gajda and Dr. James Stoxsen all returning as special presenters.

"It's an event to honor these Hall of Fame people and it's great to see the others coming back," Figarelli said.

Yet the semiformal event still has the atmosphere of an informal get-together.

"It's a mingle affair," Figarelli said. "We get some people here that are not in the fitness industry. They just come because they heard about it and their comments have been, 'Wow! I can't believe how great this is.' It's so casual and has such a warm feeling."

The Fitness Hall of Fame & Museum does have a physical site at 601 Brickville Road, Sycamore, but it is currently under reconstruction. Visits are generally by appointment only by calling (630) 865-5512.

The fitness museum also has a Traveling Exhibit which debuted in Nov. 2007. The exhibit showcases fitness history and artifacts from 1865 to the present. It will be on hand at the induction ceremony as well.

A Web-based virtual museum also is under construction and will highlight much of the information presented in Figarelli's recently published book, "The History of Fitness: Eras and Icons."

For information on the National Fitness Hall of Fame & Museum or to order induction ceremony tickets visit nationalfitnessmuseum.com or call (630) 865-5512.