#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 75 with Jason Bender of Cheetah Gym

Today we are joined by Jason Bender of Cheetah Gym. Jason is a Master Trainer who believes every workout should have a plan in mind, not just a bunch of exercises. As a black belt, he incorporates martial arts training into his classes so students feel an improvement in flexibility, stress relief and confidence. You can workout with Jason at 5248 N Clark.

Jason with his students.

Jason Bender (far right) with his students at Cheetah Gym.

“We do not grow from being comfortable. During a workout, the only way to find out what you’re made of as a human being is to push yourself.”
– Jason Bender

Listen to Episode 75 with Jason Bender

Here are some references from Episode 75 that you may want to check out:

  • This episode of #AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast comes to you live, from Cheetah Gym’s spin room with Joelle and Laura recording on large exercise balls! Jason Bender is originally from a small town in Ohio, and came to Chicago after college. He has always been involved in marital arts, and ultimately moved to Chicago with the goal to pursue it professionally. In the last few years, he has brought all his business and clients to Cheetah.
Laura and Joelle recording at Cheetah Gym

Laura and Joelle recording at Cheetah Gym on exercise balls!

  • Jason teaches functional fitness classes, “the dental care of fitness,” Muay Thai kickboxing, (no sparring, but utilizes kick pads), overall athletic classes, and Brazilian jiu jitsu/grappling/self-defense. He offers classes at many times, for adults and children. He will often pair kids of different sizes together to learn how to work together and look out for one another. It helps them to develop skills with conflict, verbal and physical.
Jason and his young students.

Jason and his young students.

  • Jason holds a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the rank of Blue in Muay Thai under the World Muay Thai Organization. The differences between the two are that Ju Jitsu originated from Japan and was brought to Brazil, which is where Jason’s instructor, Carlson Gracie Sr., originated from. In Jiu-Jitsu there are only 5 belts, white, blue, purple, brown, black. In this process, you have to mature to a certain point, in age and skill, before you can proceed forward.
  • Jason started competing in martial arts in 1999 and was a Chicago Golden Gloves semifinalist in 2007. He still competes today, but as information about CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) emerges, he really tries to protect his brain and spars very lightly and carefully. This reflects another beauty of jiu-jitsu; the contact is different and safer. Martial arts is less contact, and therefore lets you leave you opponent as friends, not foes.
  • As a Master Trainer, Jason offers classes that focus on full body workouts, circuit training as well as martial arts. His philosophy is that workouts are supposed to be uncomfortable. Part of the reason why Jason first got involved in martial arts was to prove himself, and he wanted to feel powerful. The only way to get there is to push yourself, and he finds that most people haven’t experienced their full potential – and he wants to help them find that.
Cheetah Gym's workout space.

Cheetah Gym’s workout space.

  • It’s a somewhat a new concept, but Jason explores how much we should push our bodies and how often. It’s important to evaluate how a person is feeling every day, and adjust the intensity of a workout. Pay attention to your body. Jason’s tips for a good workout are: Be consistent. Workout every day at the exact same time. Pay attention to your hunger. If you can, work out in the morning that way nothing gets in the way.
  • Jason is pre/post natal fitness certified, and approaches prenatal workout with 2 questions in mind: Have you done it before you were pregnant, and are you going to fall down? If your exercise routine isn’t different than before, you can still do it! Otherwise, wait until after. 
  • When starting out on a fitness journey or struggling to find the right workout, Jason’s encourages people to get out of the “program” mindset. Fitness is life-long journey. People put a lot of stock in having fun – which is important – but not every workout is fun. Move every day, don’t make excuses. Jason doesn’t like “working out,” but he enjoys jiu jitsu. Find the thing that makes you move in a full range of motion and do that. He fosters a student/learning environment, and gets excited when someone is brand new. If you think you’re at your rock bottom, come on in, and he and his crew will take care of you in more ways than one.

Jason and Student 2

    • Having recently undergone knee surgery, Jason’s experience has been a little bit of a blessing, because he tends to push his physical boundaries. It’s been nice to step back and refresh, and focus on growing his jiu jitsu program. He’s had more people involved, and is finding more ways to get beginners involved and teach better.
    • Some of the individuals in Jason’s life that have helped and encouraged him along his journey are Mr. Rogers – which personified how to treat people and how to be nice. Also, his teachers – Doug Tono, Carlson Gracie Jr, and all of his trainers and students. He sees his students try and try again, and it inspires him to keep going.

Jason and Student

  • When asked which Andersonville business he would like to trade places with and why, Jason would take an empty building and use it as his own facility! It’s a big dream to have his own space and facility. He doesn’t want to do anything outside of the fitness industry and can’t dream of doing anything else.

Visit Jason Bender and Cheetah Gym on the following platforms:
Online: cheetahgym.com | bendermartialarts.com
Facebook: facebook.com/CheetahGymChicago
Instagram: @cheetahgymchicago


This episode is brought to you by Chicago sales coach, Paul Baraz of Train Wreck Solutions. His new workshop series, Sales Made Simple, occurs monthly every 4th Thursday from 6-7:30PM at 5153 N Clark, #228.