By Team ICG® Master Trainer Joan Kent
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die. — Thomas Campbell
Write a piece on Jim Karanas. How could a simple request be so daunting? Write about what — Jim the man, Jim the instructor, Jim the athlete? How he changed people”™s lives? What he meant to ICG®? Since Jim”™s untimely death on August 25, all of these have swirled relentlessly through my mind.
ICG Marketing Director Gary Warren describes Jim as “the ultimate selfless man in a selfish world. Jim offered his directors, co-workers, partners and customers 100% every day, with nothing held back. If ever there was a man who showed how to focus on doing great things for the greater good, rather than for profit, Jim was that man.”
Jim started small in the fitness industry in the 1980s, teaching classes in a local fitness club and turned himself into the quintessential fitness instructor. He had every quality a great instructor needs. He connected with people and always remembered their names. He gave crystal clear training instructions. He offered more than a workout in his classes, incorporating physiology, philosophy, and inspiration. People left his classes feeling wonderful. (In fact, people left every conversation with Jim feeling just a little bit better.) Jim”™s love for training and athletics was unparalleled, and he shared it with the greatest enthusiasm. Jim even taught a fitness class for kids, and 30 or 40 adult club members would typically gather around to watch. It was amazing.
Jim considered his primary gift in fitness his ability to create programs.
- The original CEO of Club One credits him with developing the philosophy behind Club One.
- When aerobics competition was at its peak, Jim created Competitive Aerobics Training Camp. No other coach was so successful. Jim”™s athletes won a total of 78 medals, including national and world championships.
- He created Spin Camp, a six-week, periodized indoor-cycling program, the first of its kind.
- He created Performance Max, a progressive, periodized program that incorporated both indoor cycling and rowing.
- In creating PMax, Jim actually brought Active-Isolation Stretching to California. It had been used only on the US east coast until then.
- Jim shaped the philosophy behind the Kranking program, calling for “inclusive fitness” and emphasizing the benefits of the Krankcycle for challenged athletes.
Jim took his profound love of cycling and applied it to his work for ICG, creating a team of Master Trainers nationally and internationally. A ride led by Jim Karanas to Myride®+ was the ultimate indoor cycling experience. It put together everything he knew and loved about cycling. He brought that love to the workshops he taught for the Team ICG Master Trainers.
Jim loved to coach people to ‘go beyond self-imposed limitations,”™ a phrase he used time and time again in his classes. He encouraged hundreds of his students to begin riding outdoors, or to try distances and challenges they might never have tackled. Over decades — and especially in the past weeks — countless “Jim disciples” have told me that they never ride without hearing his voice, his words in their minds. Many of them have gone further to say he changed their lives.
Jim turned numerous indoor cycling students into instructors through inspiration. He would teach, and his students wanted to do the same — and make people feel what Jim had made them feel.
Back in 1975, Jim said what he liked best about fitness was the fact that “you can”™t fake it.” Jim”™s teaching was never gimmicky; industry fads were of no interest to him. The classes he taught came from his experience and his heart. They were authentic and so was he.
Gary Warren describes Jim as “technically brilliant. But his ultimate skill was being an amazing human being. Jim had something that cannot be quantified, an ability to get people to where they wanted to be — in sport, in fitness, in life. He will always be part of ICG and has shaped where we are heading. On a personal level, Jim shaped my ability to lead with greater compassion for those around me. I'm a better person and business director having had him on my staff and as my friend.”
Since Jim”™s death, the phrase “bigger than life” keeps running through my head. He was everyone”™s most unforgettable character. His influence was worldwide. His compassion and ability to give and forgive were unending. He taught by example. The sheer number of people Jim helped and touched is shown in how many love him and will always remember him. To pay forward even a small fraction of what Jim lived daily would be a most fitting tribute and a beautiful legacy.
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