Walking into Orinoco Fitness is like stepping into a relaxing, tropical oasis.
The calming scent of eucalyptus greet guests as they prepare to begin their Pilates, yoga and Zumba workouts. Then there are the bamboo floors, which are padded underneath to give a more comfortable floor to exercise on. A waterfall-like fountain hangs on the wall, adding to the ambiance.
The studio officially opened Nov. 26 after a year of planning by owner Ana Santos Gitzinger. A grand opening party/open house is set for Jan. 18-19 and will include raffles, promotions and a two-hour Zumba party.
"It's really everything coming full-circle," said Gitzinger. "Dreams do come true when you work really hard."
Gitzinger came to the United States from Venezuela when she was 16. She attended college on scholarship and got an engineering degree, which she parlayed into a job with Procter & Gamble.
"I fell in love with the idea of creating new brands," she said.
After awhile, Gitzinger decided to get her MBA, and then she worked for Motorola in Libertyville for five years.
With two children at home, Gitzinger found it tough to balance her corporate career and her family. She ultimately decided to leave the corporate world behind.
"I chose my kids and I chose my sanity," she said.
After leaving Motorola, Gitzinger worked as a consultant and taught marketing at the College of Lake County. She knew, though, that she'd always wanted to start her own business.
Gitzinger decided to combine her desire to start a business with her love of activities like yoga and Pilates. She had also discovered Zumba, which appealed to her affinity for dance, being from Venezuela.
"I thought, why not create a place where I can blend that," said Gitzinger.
She started her endeavor in November 2011 by crafting a business plan. She found a space to rent, at 116 N. Milwaukee Ave., in June 2012. That same month, she started interviewing prospective instructors, most of whom also teach classes elsewhere.
"So Orinoco is new, but the instructors are not," said Gitzinger.
She named the business after the Orinoco River, which flows through Venezuela. That river theme, along with that of Venezuela's picturesque table-top mountains, are reflected in Orinoco Fitness' logo.
A number of classes are offered at Orinoco, including Pilates, Vinyasa yoga, yoga basics and Level I yoga. There are also Zumba and Zumba Gold classes, with the latter being tailored for beginners and older adults.
Customers can attend their first class for free. Then, they can purchase a 10-class pass for $140 or a 20-class pass for $240. There is also the single, drop-in class option for $18 per class.
Gitzinger encourages people to stop by during the grand opening party/open house, which will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 18 and 9 to 11 a.m. Jan. 19. The two-hour Zumba party will feature raffles—including class passes, t-shirts and Zumba clothing—and special promotions.
For more information, visit the Orinoco Fitness website or call (847) 281-7362.