Abby Slagel January Member of the Month

Abby preparing for beast mode!

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I have always been active, but having a desk job and getting home to my kids I was not finding the time for myself. I started working out on my lunch hour and haven’t looked back!

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: Not every day is a sweat session, but I try to move my body 5 days a week.
Monday and Wednesday are typically lifting/cardio. Tuesday and Thursday are active rest days. Friday is cardio.

I am not currently attending any group sessions, but I have in the past. Lean & Strong over the lunch hour! We had a blast. Aging Strong, I did this with my mother in law a few times. Great group of people! Zumba! I love to dance, I used to participate 2 days a week and can still remember the routines! LOL

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Squats! I have always had very strong legs.

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Since I workout over my lunch hour, I get to eat lunch as soon as I am done. Anything with peanut butter is my go to.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Deciding how much weight to start with. This can be difficult when Mary and I are doing a building session, often find ourselves starting WAY to heavy! LOL

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: My gym partner Mary Foutch! We continuously push each other even on the days neither one of us feel like it. We know if we just go do anything for 30-45 minutes, we are immediately in a better mood and mindset.

Abby and Mary goofing around.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: I get it! Walking into a gym can be scaring and intimidating if you have never been in one. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We all started somewhere. Find the time! You will thank yourself.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: A handstand push up!

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Never in my life did I think I would say this…… running a constant mile without stopping! This is recent…. like within the past couple of weeks. I loathed running! However, since Katrina has aided us in the training of how to start, and here Mary and I are killing it! 😉

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: Nutrition!!! Always working on nutrition.

Abby and her family!

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: Mary and I have been friends for 35 years!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: The people you encounter. Smiling, saying hi, encouraging, and giving each other a hard time when we haven’t crossed paths for a few days.

Mary Foutch December Member of the Month

Mary is a 40-year-old Transit Assistant for the City of Galesburg.

Mary and her family

Q: What got you started working out?
A: Actually the question should be who got you started working out and that would be Abby Slagel. A friend of mine for 35 years. She was training with Jenna and talked me into coming and we have been coming together since then.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: My goal is 5 days. The Lean and Strong class is where the love of weight training started for me.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Deadlifts.

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Typically something with chicken.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Keeping the workouts fresh and fun so we stay motivated is the most challenging part of working out.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: Accountability! Having a workout partner helps. The days you don’t feel like going you go because you know the other person is expecting to go.

Workout buddies for life

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Join a group, get familiar with the exercises, and meet the people. Give yourself time. Once you get into the habit of going it just becomes a part of your routine.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: Squats! I’m fairly tall and I was so worried about hurting myself that I didn’t even want to try. I joined the Lean and Strong class where we got familiar with weight training and by taking it slow and learning the proper way to do it I’m now able to squat without much worry. Do I like doing squats? No but I definitely can.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I can do some pretty amazing things in the gym that I didn’t even know I could do but I think what I’m most proud of is that Abby and I keep going. We are busy with all kinds of activities with our families and we have busy jobs but no matter what we go! We may not always get the best workout in but we always try to make it to the gym.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: I’m working on some nutrition goals now.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I’m a crazy sports mom!!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: THE PEOPLE!!

Connie Christianson November Member of the Month

Connie’s flex game is strong.

Connie is a 38-year-old Management Analyst or the Army National Guard and a Detachment SGT for a Finance Company.

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I was at my highest weight and wanted to change it. A friend of mine (Amanda Sanders) told me her friend was doing a 4 week challenge for the new year so I joined it.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: I typically do 5-6 days a week. I am part of Stronger together virtually since I live in Springfield, IL. I also do Warrior Strong, I had to take a small break due to training for a marathon.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: I really don’t have one.

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Lately it has been popcorn.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: The hardest part when I started was keeping it going. Now it is just trying to make sure I can work my other crazy parts of life around it.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: My health and my job. I really feel like working out helps me stay sane. I take my frustration out in my workouts whether it be in lifting or in kickboxing. I also have to be physically fit for my job.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Take it one day at a time. Each rep even, if it is one more than the last time, is better than nothing. You have to start somewhere.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: Deadlift!

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Handstand pushups, deadlifts and kickboxing. I have always wanted to do handstand ups and I have been able to do them. Kickboxing and lifting has always been something I was told I couldn’t do, do to restraints of some injuries but I have push passed all of that.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: Running a marathon in Jan of 2022. Not losing what I have gained with my muscles!

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: Most people know I am in the Army National Guard, but most don’t know I aspired to be in the Guard Band growing up and I was for 9 years. I have spent the rest of my 21 years in Finance and pay!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: I love the environment, everyone is family whether or not when I get to come to the gym or virtually. I love the support. I am grateful for the virtual members! Christina and I want more to join us on Monday and Wednesdays!

Jack Harlan October Member of the Month

Jack is a 45-year-old retired Army veteran and current Detective with Knox County Sheriffs Department. He’s also running for Sherriff of Knox County.

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I always loved fitness, but didn’t really start weight training until I joined the Army.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: I usually workout six days a week.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Dumbbell Incline Press.

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Haribo Gummy Bears.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Stopping. I always want to do one more set. [It] can make for a long night.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: Multiple things keep me motivated such as my family, job, and self. I want to stay healthy and fit so I can be here for my family and see the next generation. Stay fit for my job so I can perform the best that I possibly can. And working out for myself, just feeling good is just a great feeling.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Set realistic goals (don’t try lifting the whole gym the first day): Stay consistent: (results come when you put constant effort, get away from I’ll do it tomorrow): Grab a workout partner to hold accountable.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: Still not the best at it, but a snatch. I really never worked on power moves, I just worked on moving a lot of weight. It was a big eye opener starting cleans and snatches and I still don’t like them. Lol

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Being able to maintain and out lift my son Noah. I love when he comes back and thinks he can out do the old man and I have to put the smack down on him.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: Just want to maintain and help others achieve their goals.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I’m married to the Love of my life Frannie, we have two handsome boys and four dogs, a God fearing man, and I love this Great Country. Oh and I’m running for Knox County Sheriff!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: I love that it’s a no judgement gym! The people who go are all there for the same reason, to get better or maintain. No one is stuck up, you can be yourself, and the owners are there to help with whatever! It is true to their motto “We Grow Strong By Lifting Others!”

Diane VanHootegem September Member of the Month

Diane is a 60-year-old retired educator.

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I had recently retired and I was looking for things to keep me moving and make my retirement productive; plus I wanted to become healthier.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: I work out a minimum of 2 days a week. I am an avid participant in Aging Strong, as well as I hit kickboxing when I can.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: I like the rowing machine…its works on many parts of the body at once.

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: I enjoy a protein shake after a workout.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: I love Aging Strong because the workouts change every session. There is always something quite challenging in every workout… like Atomic Sit Ups.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: I enjoy the people in class. We give each other a hard time, but we get the job done. The trainers always make the workouts interesting… I never know what’s coming until I show up! I also like the results…toner muscles, more energy, and my clothes fit better.

Aging Strong Group

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: The first thing you have to do is show up! I LOVE The Strength Collective because everyone is friendly and helpful. My classmates in Aging Strong are accepting of all ability levels and are very encouraging. The trainers are very knowledgeable and will assist you in meeting all your health goals. Show up and give it a try and then keep showing up… even if the muscles hurt.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: Multiple pushups, side planks, box squats with heavy weights…most everything.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I would have to say that I am most proud of participating in Jenna’s Fitness Challenge in January and learning a great deal about nutrition and what my body needs to perform well. I also learned that I can eat anything I want if I plan for it; eating healthy does not always mean going without that dessert or cheeseburger. It has literally changed my life.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: I want to continue to work on core and upper body strength.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I am a certified scuba diver…which is not all that useful in West Central Illinois.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: My favorite thing has to be the people! They are fun, encouraging, and motivate me to do my best.

Cam Harshbarger August Member of the Month

Cam is a 25-year-old banker at Woodforest National Bank.

Q: What got you started working out?
A: What got me into the gym was of course being a high school athlete but some rough life choices after high school lead me back to the gym. If it wasn’t for Erik [Swanson] and his dad motivating me and pushing me to be my absolute best, I probably wouldn’t be who I am today. So I have them to thank for helping a guy like me know the ropes of lifting!

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: 3-4 at the moment

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Squats. Gotta work those GLUTES!

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: PB&J Sandwich

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Failing. One you’ve experienced failure it’s hard to bounce back, but as soon as you do it’s worth every drop of sweat when you hit that big goal!

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: Knowing how far I’ve come. Knowing I have a lot left to prove.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Keep Striving! You may not see results right away, but I assure you playing the waiting game will benefit you in the long run!

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: Couldn’t bench at all growing up.

Lift with some Tegridy.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I hold 3 National Powerlifting Records in the Junior Division.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: Feeing my overall best to step back on that competition platform.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I rock out to Celine Dion… no shame here.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: Seeing all the people in this amazing gym push to a goal and achieving it. Knowing that a local business is kicking a$$ and thriving!

Kenzie Baker

Kenzie

Q: How old are you?
A: I am 21 years old

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Aledo, IL so I am very close to home!

Q: How many people are in your family?
A: My parents are Aaron and Angie Baker and I have one sister Michaela who is 3 years older than me.

Q: Where did you go to High School?
A: I went to Mercer County High School and participated in three sports my four years.

Q: Why Monmouth College?
A: Track and Field was my favorite sport and is partially why I chose Monmouth College. Coach Haynes knows what he’s talking about when it comes to track, and he also coached my father back in the day! (Lol) I wanted to be close enough to go home on the weekend for family events, but also still get that college experience.

Q: Why Kinesiology?
A: Kinesiology really sounded like something I would enjoy. I’ve always enjoyed sports and exercise!

Q: What do you want to do with your degree?
A: Honestly, my boyfriend and I have always dreamed of having our own gym together; that would definitely be a happy place for me!

Q: What would be your dream job?
A: After college I would like to become a personal trainer, I enjoy helping others live a healthy lifestyle and seeing them reach their goals.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: My favorite exercise is probably hang cleans or bench!

Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: My favorite food is any type of pasta!

Q: What’s something that not many people know about you?
A: Something many people don’t know about me is that I enjoy baking!

Paige Steele July Member of the Month

Paige during a flying lesson

Paige is a 19-year-old student and waitress.

Q: What got you started working out?
A: My career path and wanting to better myself.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: 4-5 days a week.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Back squat!!!

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Grilled chicken and veggies

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Sometimes trying new things is a little nerve wrecking. That mental blockage can get the best of me.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: My future, my future career, and wanting to be the best version of myself everyday of the week.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Do it!! Every time you go to the gym it’s an investment in yourself. So take that first step, invest in yourself. And most importantly, it doesn’t matter how you look, but how you feel.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: Physically, I couldn’t lift much weight. Mentally, I could never stay consistent with workouts or hold myself accountable.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Being able to squat a heavy weight as a beginner.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: Getting ready for basic training and absolutely crushing the ACFT.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: One tree hill is my absolute favorite t.v. Show!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: Everything. The environment. The people. Seeing everyone there with a purpose and goal!

Stacey Dutton June Member of the Month

Stacey is a 49-year-old Senior Manager of American Cancer Society.

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I wanted to become more active and stronger with some stamina. I did a lot of driving, worked long hours and lifting of event supplies. As the pandemic set in, everything in person came to a stop which created full days of sitting at my desk which caused some back issues. Work outs followed by stretching are a great way to start the day.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: I work out four days a week. I am part of the Warrior Strong 6am class and a part of the Barbell Strong Group.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Punches and kicks to relieve stress.

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: A protein shake.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Consistency. The accountability from the group really helps. I do the 6am class from home on Zoom, but I am live with Katrina and the group at the gym. I know someone is wanting me to be there as much as I want to be there, so I show up!

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: I made the time and scheduled all workouts in my calendar, just like the rest of my commitments. Work/life balance is important, so I took advantage of my work meetings being virtual with no travel. I was able to take the time I normally would be traveling and made the commitment to the Barbell Strong Group. I love the class, the group and how great I feel after.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Start with one thing that works for you and do not overwhelm yourself. Take the class you are interested in or take personal training and do not be afraid of modifications. Every exercise has a modification that Jenna and Katrina can advise you on. Modifications do not mean you are not working as hard as everyone else. Your concentration and form on that exercise, for you, is what is going to make the difference.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: Breathe! Seriously not only do you build up endurance with cardio, you learn how to breathe as you lift, punch, kick and relax. Your breathing helps with focus and mindfulness that you will use in your daily activities.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Core balance and all the habits I have learned in the 4-week challenges.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: To continue the good habits I have learned in the 4-week challenge and the positive energy from that group of kickass women!

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I am right-handed but shoot pool left-handed.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: The diverse group of women who are already strong by making the choice to take care of themselves. Everyone is very supportive and it is not a competition between any of us. We all may want the same thing, but Jenna and Katrina tailor the tools for you to be successful no matter where you are starting from.

Ryan Crane May Member of the Month at The Strength Collective

Ryan is a 34-year-old Conductor for BNSF Railroad.

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I had ballooned to my biggest size and decided it was time for a change. So, I joined the 4-week challenge.


Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: 3-4. Barbell Strong and the Challenge Groups.


Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Squats


Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Protein shake


Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Never being satisfied. Always wanting to know what’s next!


Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: My beautiful wife pushes me when I’m not feeling It and vice versus. She attends kickboxing so we’re always pushing and supporting each other.


Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Take the first step. The hardest part about starting is taking that first step in the gym. But once you do it’s so worth it.


Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: I hard a hard time squatting more then the bar now I’m up to 305 lbs.


Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Deadlift. It’s up to 305 pounds.


Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: I want to deadlift 350.


Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I can’t swim.


Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: The atmosphere. From the moment you come in, they treat you like family. Everyone is always there to help each other no matter what.