May 5th 2009 · by B-Rad
The revolution is spreading via St. Paul’s Best Fitness Boot Camp!!
Bob Shaw did a fantastic job capturing the “essence” of the Kinetic Edge “Beatdowns”!
No One Said Workouts Must Be Boring
Twin Cities fitness centers get creative
He raises a 10-pound sledgehammer high over his head, then
bashes it into a 2-foot-thick tractor tire. He whacks it over and over,
as grim as if he were bashing Osama Bin Laden himself.
“You get more workout in less time,” said Nelson, between whacks. “And it’s something fresh and fun.”
Nelson’s business, Kinetic Edge in Woodbury, is one of a growing
number of boutique fitness centers with imaginative — or even bizarre —
approaches to fitness.
New, creative ways to sweat are popping up faster than
resolutions on New Year’s Day — including workouts based on kickboxing,
rap music, ballet and indoor triathlons.
“We are always looking for new ways to spice up the exercise
routine,” said Kara Thompson, spokeswoman for the International Health,
Racquet & Sportsclub Association.
One hot trend, she said, is Budokon — a blend of yoga and martial arts. BalleCore, another offshoot, blends ballet and yoga.
Zumba — aerobic dancing to Latin music — is mainstream enough
that there was, for example, a Zumba fundraiser in Anoka last month to
combat violence against women.
Fitness experts can’t keep up with evaluating the routines that
are popping up rapidly. But they agree on one thing: The only effective
workout is one that people actually do. They applaud anything — even
sledgehammer workouts — that keep customers from getting bored with
The variety of workouts is one reason the number of for-profit fitness clubs in the U.S. has doubled to about 30,000 in the past eight years.
Although the number of people exercising in those clubs dropped
about 2 percent last year, they are paying more — profits were up 3
percent. That is because they are paying more for extra services and
new, creative classes, Thompson said.
On healthclubdirectory.com, there are now 136 fitness centers listed for the Twin Cities.
“The smaller places are going up everywhere,” said Julie Gronquist, owner of Balance for Life Fitness Center in Shoreview.
The strangest workout at her center involves a machine that
looks like a torture rack. It is called, appropriately, “The Reformer.”
The machine usually is used in conjunction with Pilates
workouts, but it has developed a following of its own, Gronquist said.
Customers strap themselves onto the rack in a kneeling, sitting or
prone position and move back and forth on spring-loaded tracks.
“It’s very circus-y,” Gronquist said.
At the Athlete Lab in Little Canada, Kate Klaers offers workouts that are more masochistic.
Klaers, a former St. Paul firefighter, said her “Boot Camp”
workouts are similar to those required for Navy SEALS and firefighters.
“We have no machines. It’s very old-school,” with pull-up bars
and medicine balls, Klaers said. “It is not for the faint of heart.”
Tire whacking is one of many exercises offered at Kinetic Edge. But it isn’t the strangest.
That would be the sloshing beer keg lift.
Patrons put a certain amount of water into the kegs, then lift them around, turning side to side.
“This is called ‘functional training,’ ” said Nelson, who has 80 clients.
Functional training mimics daily tasks such as lifting.
“I think about her,” said Nelson, nodding toward a customer.
“She is carrying a laundry basket all day. How can I make her daily
life more easy?”
Nelson offers sessions twice a week in which customers move
among exercise stations. These include the tire whacking, beer keg
lifting and sit-ups — with your legs attached to straps hanging from
The Russian kettlebells also require explaining.
“When I talk about them,” said Ellen Anderson, 18, of Mahtomedi,
“everyone looks at me and asks if I am talking about tea kettles.”
Not exactly. In the Kinetic Edge studio recently, Anderson
grunted as she lifted weights that looked like cannonballs with
Most workouts include swinging the kettlebells from the floor, between a person’s legs, to over their heads.
“It is a hip-driven tool. It is not just for one muscle, like
the biceps or triceps. Every exercise uses about 70 percent of your
muscles,” Nelson said.
The studio is like a teenage testosterone haven, with hanging
chains, sledgehammers sitting in a row, “Cast Iron Balls” T-shirts and
the machine shop screeches of a Metallica CD.
Yet most of the kettlebell customers are women.
Lucy Burger, 67, of Afton, has lost 52 pounds since she started
six years ago. She was recovering from injuries to both knees after a
“I could barely walk up steps when I started,” she said.
Troy Moser, 37, of Woodbury, who is also a member of Gold’s Gym,
said, “I am anti-class.” But after hearing his wife rave about the
kettlebells for more than a year, he decided to try it. Now, he goes
about four times a week and says he has “leaned up” quickly.
The appeal of niche fitness centers is based on personal attention.
During a recent kettlebell session, Nelson walked among the
eight customers, looking for proper form, adjusting a leg here, moving
a head there.
Nelson hollered: “Shoulders over hips!”
“What hips?” groaned Muhaz Fisseha, of Woodbury, who said she is “over 40.”
Penny Osland lay twisted on the mat, lifting a wobbling
kettlebell skyward. She was asked if any of her friends thought her
workouts were odd.
Maybe, said Osland, 50, of Cottage Grove. But she is delighted with the results.
Osland has done other forms of exercise.
“But this is what pushed me over where I really notice body improvements,” she said.
Bob Shaw can be reached at 651-228-5433.
These people have experienced SERIOUS RESULTS from the Kettlebell / Kinetic Edge Classes…
Do YOU WANT RESULTS like them?
Come GET SOME!