Rhea Friederichs, owner and instructor at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping in Forest Lake, is excited for the center’s 10-week spring challenge to begin April 8.
Friederichs and her husband, Jeff, have welcomed about 200 new members since their inaugural 10-week challenge kicked off last October. They hope to be welcoming many more newcomers, but Rhea says she can understand a person’s apprehension to starting a new fitness program.
She was in that position herself just a little over two years ago.
Jeff had been active at a gym near their home in south Minneapolis. Rhea was unhappy with her weight and a limited level of fitness, but she says she wasn’t motivated to join any program until a co-worker spoke about a Farrell’s location in New Hope near Rhea’s office.
“I was skeptical, anxious, overweight, unhealthy and doubtful that it would be for me. I hated exercise. I avoided exercise as much as possible because it wasn’t fun and it hurt,” Rhea said. “But this friend of mine had experienced really good results with the program (at Farrell’s).”
Rhea joined a challenge at that New Hope location, much like new members have started in Forest Lake.
To get the most from the challenge, and for a chance to win the $1,000 grand prize that goes to the challenge participant who experiences the greatest transformation after 10 weeks, members visit their Farrell’s center for one hour daily Monday through Saturday each week.
After 15 minutes of stretching exercises, the class routine on Monday, Wednesday and Friday includes 30 minutes of kickboxing training. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the instructors focus their classes on strength training with use of resistance bands.
Several class sessions are scheduled in the early morning and then late afternoon and early evening on weekdays to accommodate most work schedules. Rhea and Jeff are among the regular instructors, and they are joined by other trainers that have all lived through the Farrell’s experience. The trainers are always reviewing their students’ excitement and improvement, and they will suggest some students step up to become instructors.
It can seem like a long road at the start of a 10-week challenge.
“When we start (kickboxing), there can be a lot of tears because a lot of emotional baggage comes out,” Rhea said.
She persevered, and after her first 10 weeks Rhea had lost a total of 21 inches (from her waist, thighs, hips, arms and chest) along with 9 percent of her body fat and 18 pounds. She regards that overall weight loss as a secondary number compared with her gain in strength.
“We don’t focus on weight here. We are not a weight loss program. We are an endurance and strength training program. That’s what makes this different,” Rhea said. “(Starting the challenge) was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was incredibly difficult. I had never exercised like that in my life, but I started to get stronger and it started to be more fun.”
Rhea placed as a runner-up among 50 women in her Farrell’s challenge in New Hope. Jeff later followed her lead, and he placed first among men in his Farrell’s challenge.
The couple was familiar with Forest Lake before opening their fitness center last fall because Jeff is from nearby Chisago City.
Their business is in the former Thrifty White Pharmacy space in the Lake Shoppes mall. Rhea said they are happy to be part of revitalization in the U.S. Highway 61 corridor, including a rebuild of the Lake Shoppes parking lot. Rhea noted that they insisted on the lot repairs as a condition of opening in the vacant space.
They are proud to be part of the Forest Lake community with Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping, gaining lots of attention with an entry in last year’s July 4 parade. They intend to ride and work out in the parade again this year, including newer members.
The first leading success story for Farrell’s in Forest Lake happened for Leah Taylor, of Wyoming, who won $1,000 as a champion in last fall’s challenge.
She is a special education teacher at Chisago Lakes High School, where she also coaches softball and she has coached through the Forest Lake Area Athletic Association.
Taylor says she did not always have enough energy to match her active lifestyle before taking the Farrell’s challenge. She visited the Forest Lake location after learning a school colleague had won a Farrell’s challenge in Blaine, but Taylor decided that Blaine was too far to drive for six days each week.
She says that before checking out Farrell’s, she had entered “probably every gym (in Forest Lake)” with minimal success.
Taylor finds herself in a different zone at Farrell’s.
“It’s so addictive,” she said. “You’ll wake up looking forward to working out, and I’d never had that before. You just come here, sweat your butt off, and leave.
“And, the amount of energy I have has dramatically improved.”
That comes largely with the coaching component of proper nutrition at Farrell’s. Challenge members follow a meal plan that does not require them to spend money on special foods, just on healthful foods.
“We eat six meals a day,” said Rhea. “Clean foods, including meats, vegetables, fruit and clean carbs.”
For more about the Farrell’s experience, call 651-464-4041 or visit fxbforestlake.com.