Weather Updates

Fitness Buddy: Trainer turns frustration into inspiration

Blog Bio

Name: The Fitness Buddy

Writer: Jim Ristow, of Oswego


Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Sept. 12 was by far the most perfect day of Jim Ristow’s life, he claims. That was the day Ristow, of Oswego, became an Ironman.

“It changes you,” Ristow said of his first Ironman triathlon in Madison, Wis. He will compete again swimming, running and biking this November in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Ristow, 44, wasn’t always the Ironman type. Not too long ago, Ristow was 70 pounds heavier and lost direction with his career. Then, he says, “I figured out how to eat and exercise.” He lost weight and went on a search for fulfillment.

“I was tired of the corporate world,” said Ristow, who started working with a career coach shortly after losing weight. To Ristow’s surprise, he was told his destiny was to become a personal trainer.

Fast-forward to today and Ristow, now a personal trainer, says he went from being a miserable guy to someone who wants to inspire others. He kept his day job as a corporate trainer for an electronics company, but he went to work sharing his passion for fitness with others.

In 2009, Ristow self-published “The Fitness Buddy,” a compact binder full of workouts, pouches, pockets and workout logs. It’s the perfect companion for the gym, he says.

“I tried to make it as simple as possible,” he said. He added that a lot of exercise books expect everybody to be an expert, and they don’t show “regular” people but rather models with unrealistic bodies. In “The Fitness Buddy,” Ristow is shown on each page demonstrating exercises with free weights, and he gives step-by-step instructions.

Since the launch of “The Fitness Buddy,” Ristow maintains a blog at, where he writes about nutrition, motivation, fitness, Ironman and more.

“I get my thoughts on nutrition out there,” Ristow said of the blog. “And it became my diary of my journey to Ironman.”

On the day before Ironman, he wrote, “What a journey this past year has been. I entered the year just thinking I was going to do a 140.6 mile race, as it turns out the journey turns out to be more than expected. Sure the race is the cherry on the ice cream sundae, but it really has been a journey to finding out who I am.”

One of Ristow’s first blog posts shares his wife’s recipe for enchilada soup with avocado. In another, he lists all of the restaurants between his house and the grocery store where they shop. His latest posts announce the opening of his at-home personal training studio and his training leading up to a marathon this February in New Orleans.

“I can say without a doubt that marathons are my most difficult training. It is harder than triathlon training and even Ironman training,” he wrote Jan. 9. He runs 110 laps around the track at Rush-Copley Healthplex to train for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon.

Ristow updates the blog frequently and revels in his inspirational role.

“People put a little more trust and faith in you,” he said about having conquered weight loss and his fitness goals.

“It’s about living fitter, living healthier,” Ristow said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.