Inspiration Story 25 – Mike and Julie


Julie’s Story:

I began my fitness journey as an 8 year old. That was the year I began participating in running races and scored a whole 4 points in my first basketball season. Come 7th grade, I was able to play basketball and run track for Duluth East. The next year, I added volleyball. After high school, I was fortunate enough to be able to continue my volleyball career at good old UMD. I will never forget my first off season weight training session with Annie Sitek (the first time I had ever lifted) She was a senior and a LOT stronger than I…Needless to say, I couldn’t move the next day. Learning to lift free weights in college proved to be the most beneficial skill I left with. During those years, fitness was easy!!! Being told what to do and when to do it, made things simple.

Next Chapter: Motherhood: Uh oh. No longer was I being told what to do and how to do it. After having two kids, I was struggling with my fitness. The weight gain wasn’t too bad, but I just didn’t know WHAT to do. In January 2008, while also getting pregnant with #3, we decided to join the YMCA. They help people with their membership fees if they cannot afford payment. With me being a stay at home mom and Mike a truck-driver, we were broke!! I spent the first month in the weight room, where I was comfortable, and thought I was getting in pretty good shape. Next thing I know, I am invited to join a bootcamp class and I went. Ok, I guess I wasn’t in such great shape. People 3 times my age were killing me. BOO. Nevertheless, I was an athlete darn it, and I worked hard to get back at it. I loved classes! It brought me back to being part of a team. I worked out hard all throughout my pregnancy and cruised through labor and delivery. Yay to getting back in the gym 2 weeks later.

Next Chapter: Class Instructor: Anna McGee (instructor at the YMCA) believed in me… I guess. She taught me how to instruct BOSU Challenge. I was hooked on teaching. I was hooked on helping people feel awesome/exhausted.

Next Chapter: Triathlete: We thought that Steve and Angel Hohenstein were gods. They were triathletes and we wanted in. We had found a new challenge. I still remember my first group ride and asking Angel how long it would take before my legs would stop burning. She said “never, you just get used to it.” Awesome, sign me up. I raced several years at the Sprint, Olympic, and Half Ironman distances, as well as participating in some local half marathons, and found it very challenging and liberating. I generally placed in the top 10% and was happy with that. I love triathlon and am excited to race again.

Next Chapter: Personal Trainer:  I was ready to help people in a more intimate way. Personal training was the vehicle. After studying hard, I became a certified personal trainer for the YMCA. One day, my client Nicole asked me to come to her house. I told her that YMCA policy wouldn’t allow that, but it got me thinking. I wondered if there were more people out there who needed a trainer to come to their home, and hence, Destination Fitness was born.

Next Chapter: Destination Fitness:  Apparently there was a great need for an in home personal trainer. God had set us on the right path and even helped us obtain our own studio. I love being a part of all of these fitness stories you have been reading. Just a part…because we can’t do it all. We have big plans for the future! We can’t wait to reveal…just wait.

Mike’s Story:

Let’s go way back to elementary school. I loved watching and playing sports. I would play games in gym class and at recess- come home- and brag about how good I was in all these sporting activities. My dad started playing catch with me and realized I always stated how I threw a great pass – or made such a good catch. He listened to me as I continuously complimented myself while never giving any credit to the others playing. After stating a rule of “no organized sports until junior high”, he relented while I was in fourth grade to teach me a lesson in humility. That’s how my athletic story began…. A little lesson on “no I in TEAM” turned into a long, successful career in wrestling, basketball, football, and track. In college, I was fortunate enough to play a game I loved while obtaining my exercise science degree and taking classes in health education. Football had always kept me in shape and I learned so many other valuable lessons in weight training, sports conditioning, and coaching others.

After my college career ended, I started working for a distribution center. It was amazing how well I could stay in “lifting shape” while being on the truck. I was still strong and trim, but could feel my cardio slipping. I joined a one-hand touch football team as an outlet to continue to play the game I loved – while trying to get back to the shape I was in college. I remember coming back from playing on Sundays and still feeling my legs on Wednesday!!! I needed something else to do and I did not like how out of shape I was getting.

Like Julie mentioned, we joined the Y in 2008 and I had no problem getting back into lifting shape. The cardio would come, and with my exercise science background, I started putting a plan of sorts together to help me achieve my goal. That was the problem…. What was my goal? What am I training for? What am I trying to achieve? For the first time in 15 years, I was no longer training for a sport. I needed something to drive me. I needed a reason to be at the gym after a 10-hour day on the truck. Enter triathlon.

This was it! I became fascinated with this sport. The Y had a “cycle camp” class where I figured out how to bike. I could not believe how exhausted one could get while riding a stupid bicycle! I started running. I could always run – however my 4.6 40-yard dash speed was not going to help me in a 5k. I started running for mileage. Pacing was something totally new. I hit the pool and became friends with a man named Tim Keppers. He was a fantastic swimmer and graciously took the time to teach me how to swim efficiently. It was fantastic! I couldn’t wait to begin the racing season.

Around this time, Julie had started working again. She started at the Y and you know her story about becoming a personal trainer. We talked about our future. I felt I could not do my job forever, and I was wishing I was doing a job that I could use my degree in. I wanted to do something that I really enjoyed. Julie would come home and she always seemed happy with what she was doing. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I could do that too. As Destination Fitness was born, I went out and started personal training as well. From my experiences with overseeing the weight program at my high school to tracking/developing an off-season training program for one of our college sports’ teams – I felt like I had a lot to offer. I gained a ton of knowledge and expanded my certifications to include a USAT Level 1 Triathlon coach.

This is it – something I truly enjoy doing and look forward to. I love getting to know each one of you. I hear your stories, I long for each one of your goals, I enjoy our accomplishments, and I want to work harder when we stumble. It has been so gratifying to read your stories. Julie and I have talked about how we can serve each of you better. We have lots planned for 2016 and beyond – so keep working hard!





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