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Steve Amsden, a trainer at Push Fitness, had a back problem, and acupuncturist Dr. Hiroya Nakamura helped him.
So when Push Fitness co-owner Mark Trapp was looking for an acupuncturist, Amsden sent him to Nakamura, who helped Trapp recharge his personal energy.
That went so well that Trapp decided Nakamura could help the Push Fitness clients who were looking for answers to diet and health questions that bothered them so.
Push Fitness is a personal training facility in Schaumburg, co-owned by Trapp and Josh Steckler. Push Fitness sponsored the Fittest Loser competition, a three-month contest between five Daily Herald readers to see who could lose the most weight.
As part of the program, Push Fitness introduced each contestant to a new diet, and also allowed them to visit Nakamura for acupuncture therapy to assist with their weight loss.
"Dr. Nakamura helped me," Trapp said. "I'd seen an acupuncturist for the energy side of it. I went for the 'chi' side of it. I've been seeing him for the last six months.
"Anytime I am able to do something for myself that makes me feel better, if I can pass that on to my clients and give them an opportunity to do that, I want to do it," he said. "He works on healing the body by reading your energy. He is able to work on back pain, neck pain or working on getting your energy back in balance."
The contestants, all new to the idea of acupuncture, came away impressed with the process and the effect.
"It was great, a great experience," said Frank Valenti, a 54-year-old former baker from Bartlett. "You really relax. It boosted my energy. It was a big surprise. I didn't know what I was getting in to but it worked out great."
Nakamura explains how acupuncture, which is the practice of applying electrode needles to key body parts to stimulate the body's functions, works on weight loss.
"It make body connections normal," Nakamura said. "I stimulate body points to normalize the connections. If you have enough amounts of food, your stomach sends the signal to the brain: 'Stop eating, I am full.' But if that connection is not good, you are going to keep eating."
The process can also produce the opposite effect. It can make a person suffering from anorexia eat, because the body is asking for food but the stomach-to-brain connection is poor, Nakamura said.
Nakamura is also a chiropractor, and he helped all of the contestants with the aches and pains that came from starting a new and rigorous workout program, using a combination of acupuncture and chiropractic measures.
"Each of them had a different issue," Nakamura said. "Many of them had knee pain, and I helped with that."
"I was lifting some heavy weights," contestant Jan Vitullo said. "I never had lower back pain in my life, but I had a little bit after lifting, and once I started going to him, I never had that pain again. My elbow pain went away, too."
Deb Mirabelli, another contestant, said she "quit counting at 62" as Nakamura applied the acupuncture needles. But it was his chiropractic measures that helped Mirabelli the most.
"He explained to me I had a curvature in my spine and it was pushing me to the side so I was losing my balance," Mirabelli said. "He started adjusting that and I felt the difference."
Several contestants didn't fully grasp the acupuncture experience, but Nakamura said it does take some getting used to. He also said accepting the idea that acupuncture can help allows it to help more.
"There is a mind and body connection," Nakamura said.