As the winter of 2008 began to set in, Lori Gerhardson realized she could not sit around on the couch and do nothing.
“I sat at a desk job all day at the family business, Advanced Automotive of St. Francis,” said Gerhardson, who works as the company’s bookkeeper.
Gerhardson’s decision to sign up for a St. Francis Community Education Zumba class four years ago has led to the Bradford woman becoming a personal trainer.
“I love helping people reach their fitness goals,” Gerhardson said.
But walking into that first fitness class was scary for Gerhardson.
“I was scared to death. I was scared of group fitness and what the other people were thinking of me,” she said.
There were 10 people in the class and she did not know any of them, but most of them became friends over the course of the class, said Gerhardson.
One of the reasons Gerhardson kept at it was to improve her health.
Her family has a history of hereditary heart disease and she also has thyroid disease.
While she cannot do anything about her age (51), “I can do something about my health and fitness levels,” Gerhardson said.
“I chose to change, to better my health, fitness and eating choices. It is a lifestyle change. And I am loving it.”
But Gerhardson’s fitness journey hit a road bump.
In July 2010, she injured her knee and broke her pelvis.
Once the doctor gave her permission to return to her fitness routine, “I hit the ground running,” Gerhardson said.
This time Gerhardson had a goal in mind beyond becoming more fit.
“I wanted to lose 20 pounds,” she said.
Two years later she is down 50 pounds and has reduced her waist measurement to 26 inches.
From student to teacher
While her daughter Kerissa was in dance class in 2009, Gerhardson joined a gym near the Blaine dance studio.
“I had some place to go, instead of shopping or going to the coffee shop,” Gerhardson said.
As Gerhardson worked to achieve her fitness goals, which included well toned arms and a fit body, she came to the attention of the instructors.
While taking a Body Pump class, Gerhardson realized she wanted more.
“It was really where my heart was. I enjoyed being with people who were happy, positive people,” she said.
She loved seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they made the changes in their lives, Gerhardson said.
“I was encouraged by fellow group fitness instructors and classmates to obtain my personal training certification and group fitness certification,” she said.
They said her passion for fitness was inspiring to them, Gerhardson said.
For the last year and a half, Gerhardson has been teaching large group fitness classes in various gyms, corporate offices and community education programs in the metropolitan area and has been a guest instructor throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.
As an instructor, “I try to inspire people and motivate them (as well as) instill a love of fitness in them,” Gerhardson.
But they have to work and sweat for what they want, she said.
As a personal trainer, Gerhardson works with individual clients, small groups and corporate groups.
Each program is individualized for the client, Gerhardson said.
“If you have the interest, I want to see you get the results,” she said.
The sessions can be done at her home studio, in the park or the client’s home or office, she said.
Rates vary based on number of sessions, locations and number of people per session, Gerhardson said.
If two or three people wanted to get together for 36 sessions, it would cost around $8.50 per person per session for new clients, she said.
The best part is she gets to know her clients and become part of the change they are making in their lives, she said.
“It is rewarding to know I can make a difference in people’s lives,” said Gerhardson, who trains alongside her clients.
“It is hard to call what I do work because I enjoy it too much.”
“It feels good to do it.”
The best reward is getting a call or a text message from a client who has been shopping and has purchased smaller size jeans, she said.
“It is so fun sharing the joy from helping people achieve their goals,” Gerhardson said.
Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]