The Inevitable Tank

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The Inevitable Tank

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You may know him by his infamous yellow hummer, or maybe you’ve encountered one of his insanely challenging conditioning classes, or you might simply know him as one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of Granite City. It’s not much of a surprise that the mystery man is Chris “Tank” Janek, owner of Tank’s Training Facility in downtown Granite.

Chris got his start in sports like every other athlete in GC. “I started off playing soccer for the Elk’s like every kid in Granite. It was fun but as I got older I wanted more.” Coming into Coolidge as a 180lb 7th grader, it was only natural he went out for the football team and “from then on I fell in love with the game.”

Owning a gym and training athletes and seeing my lifters it’s really challenging emotionally walking in and not being able to lift and knowing mentally what I can do and what I have done.”

— Chris Janek

As he prepared for GCHS, one of his football coaches told him that wrestling would help him in football. He then began wrestling for the high school and became an all-state wrestler.

“My wrestling coach Mike Garland was very influential as far as providing me with the mental toughness I needed for life and sports.” But the fight for success wasn’t an easy one. Chris remembers coming home crying and wanting to quit but his dad (John Janek) wouldn’t let him. “He made me stick with it and I’m very glad because if I wouldn’t have gone so far in wrestling, I wouldn’t have gone so far in football.”

After high school, Janek signed to play Division I football at Wisconsin. After 4 years of college football he furthered his football career by signing with the professional arena football team in Salt Lake City from 2001-2008. After 2008, the league folded due to a shortage of money. “Luckily, I got to keep my signing bonus. That gave me some time to figure out what I was going to do,” said Janek. At the time, he thought about becoming a fireman, police officer, or even a teacher but none of them were the right job for him. “I used to train people during the offseason back in 2001, just starting with my mom and a few of her friends. So every offseason when I trained people, I was building a clientele, little did I know.”

In 2009, “Tank” opened Tank’s Training Facility on Delmar Avenue. After 5 years of starting his new business, he expanded his initial location. Chris offers numerous classes for everyone whether it’s high school/collegiate athletes or older people just looking to stay in shape. Tank’s is known for having the toughest and most challenging strength and conditioning classes. The inspiration behind the way he runs these classes have been from the many great strength coaches he’s had over the years.

“In my 4 years at Wisconsin, my strength coach was Chris Doyle who is now the strength coach for the Ohio Hawkeyes, Paul Goodman, the Chicago Blackhawks strength coach, and John Dettmann who is a legend at Wisconsin. I was fortunate enough to travel the country and learn from so many different coaches.”

Athletes and teams from all over come to Tank’s, including the Triad and Edwardsville hockey teams. “I want my clients to gain more muscle, more confidence, feel better about themselves. I just want it to be a positive atmosphere that everyone can train in.”

If you’ve been to Club Fitness, you know it’s no Club Fitness. “I drive past Club Fitness and see people watching the TV’s, smiling and laughing, and that’s not what we’re about here.” He wants clients to come in and have a very tough and challenging workout and get something out of it.

The last 2 years have been rough for Chris and his family. He was born with a birth defect called aortic valve regurgitation and it was expected to be an easy surgery with a 1-2 week recovery.

“One week turned into weeks and weeks and then a second surgery. A second surgery turned into a 3rd surgery, now I’m kind of waiting for a new heart.” It has challenged him emotionally and physically. “Owning a gym and training athletes and seeing my lifters it’s really challenging emotionally walking in and not being able to lift and knowing mentally what I can do and what I have done.”

He was always a bigger guy (315 lbs) and super strong but bloated which was bad on the heart. He got down to 248 lbs which was due to blood loss, not being able to eat, sitting around and not training. “After the 3rd surgery, I remember waking up in the hospital and not recognizing who I was because my face was so sunk in. Chris has never had any injuries until this, “I’m kinda unprecedented, they’ve never done a study on a powerlifter after 3 heart surgeries so no one knows. I know they don’t want me lifting heavy and straining myself but that’s hard to say because what’s their definition of heavy to mine.”

Don’t think that these heart problems are going to hold “Tank” back. “I’d like to be the 65 year old grandpa in the powerlifting meets still having fun.” Once “Tank” gets a new heart and has about a year’s recovery, the return of Chris Janek will be inevitable.