Jeanne Allen February Member of the Month

Jeanne is a 60-year-old Garden Center employee.

Q: What got you started working out?

A: I had a Dr appointment for a check over.  Dr’s stated that I really needed to work on my core strength and my left side was pretty weak!  Shortly after that appointment a friend Kim B invited me to come workout with her.  Timing is everything!

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?

A: During the summer I train 3 days a week.  During the winter I train 1 day a week and take aging strong Mondays and Fridays.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?

A: I enjoy doing the lifts!

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

A: Greek yogurt!

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?

A: Proper Technique.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?

A: My motivation comes from wanting to make memories with my kids and grandson.  A year or so ago I was able to go parasailing with my daughter, this yr I was able to go to trampoline park with my grandson and was able to have alot of fun..  I need more adventures!

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?

A: Go for it!! You are able! There is more to you than you believe. At The Strength Collective, they work with you as an individual, figuring out your needs to make your journey correct for you, motivating you to do more and be a better you!!  

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

A: I wasn’t able to get off the floor by myself … now I have no problems getting myself up.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Building up my core strength and improving my cardiovascular health.

Q: What goals are you working on now?

A: Continuing to work on my strength and balance so I can be around for many more adventures with my kids and grandkids!

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:

A: I’m deathly afraid of heights and needles, but have a tattoo and went parasailing.

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

A: I love the community and the trainers.

Jackie Cain January Member of the Month

Jackie is a 42-year-old real estate agent.

Q: What got you started working out?

A: In my mid 30’s I started gaining weight. I had planned to lose a few pounds then quit.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?

A: I come to 3 semi-private lessons a week. I like to come in on the weekends sometimes too for some quiet cardio.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?

A: All the different types of squats.

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

A: I love Kodiak’s Smores protein oatmeal.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?

A: I have always hated exercising, so getting motivated to get up and go.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?

A: Having a regular routine and knowing I feel so much better both physically and mentally after working out.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?

A: Just start. Get into a routine. Once you do, your body will remind you how much better you feel when you go.

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

A: Get up at 5 am… Honestly benching 100 lbs and squatting 200 lbs never seemed possible, but I have exceeded both.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: I don’t mind working out anymore. When I broke my wrist this past summer I actually missed coming to the gym. As soon as I was able, I got right back into my routine, and it helped me recover faster.

Q: What goals are you working on now?

A: I have to have another surgery on my hand coming up so my goal is to work on my cardio and eating during the time I cannot lift. 

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:

A: I love elderly people. I love the crabby, lonely, talking too long about nothing old people. They have so much to teach us about life, while still needing to be shown how to silence their phones. They are adorable.

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

A: The environment, both the size of the gym, as well as the people, make everyone feel like they belong.

Tessa Jones December Member of the Month

Tessa is a 29-year-old Communications Manager.

Q: What got you started working out?

A: Waaaaay back in the day, every Tuesday & Thursday, my dad would pick up my older siblings & I and take us to the YMCA to “workout” which was really just getting some shots up and walking around the track. That led into a sports career, so working out was a part of the regime. Now, being retired, I still love the endorphins working out provides and the feeling of moving my body and competing against myself. 

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?

A: Typically, I’ll be in the gym 3x a week, that’s my sweet spot. I’ve do semi-private group training and private. I’ve taken a few kickboxing classes, but otherwise I get outside and walk or run when I’m not in the gym!

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?

A: HIIT workouts, specifically, battle ropes. They may not like me back, but it’s such a rush & reward!

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

A: VanDorn Nutrition Hydrate, Peach Mango flavored with an a Gala apple.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?

A: GETTING THERE! More than half the battle is setting the appointment & sticking to it when there’s so much going on, I want to sleep in, or I’m just not feeling it. Once I show up, it’s all uphill from there. 

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?

A: The personal check-ins from Matt & Kat! The personal attention they give their clients is second to none and it truly holds me accountable. More so, they ensure the workouts work for ME whether I’m injured, traveling, or needing to switch it up. Having it tailored to what I need in that time is beyond helpful. Lastly, I have to give a shoutout to my accountability and life partner, Devon, who is just as competitive and prioritizes his health as much (if not more than) me. 

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?

A: Start with just an introduction talk. Just 20 minutes. Then, set out the clothes the night before (in the towel warmer if you have one). Next, set the alarm. Find your accountability partner & send them a snap or photo when you make it to the gym (or just set it to your story). Slowly but surely you’ll start showing up each day. Make it as easy on yourself as possible by preparing beforehand. 

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

A: A Turkish Get-Up! I had never done the exercise before in my life, so it was quite the challenge!

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: In 2015 I was in an ATV accident that changed my life. I had to switch my major from Kinesiology to Communication Studies because I couldn’t fulfill the physical requirements of some of the required classes. While in ICU for weeks, my dad would follow me in the hospital halls with a chair, just in case I fell or got too worn out. When I was released home, the goal was to walk to the end of the driveway, then to the mailbox, then around the block. Finally, just over a year later I was back in the gym and lifting once more. Since then, I haven’t looked back & have been able to become a stronger version of myself, though slowly, but surely. 

Q: What goals are you working on now?

A: Two major goals: 1) Being more consistent in getting to the gym (currently in my busy season & traveling, so it’s been more difficult.) 2) Enjoying running and eventually train for a half marathon!

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:

A: I love cheering on marathon races!

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

A: At the Strength Collective, there’s constantly new faces joining the classes & you may not know one another, but you immediately are welcomed with words of encouragement & motivation – it’s a great environment to be a part of!

Zach Shaw November Member of the Month

Zach is a 33-year-old realtor and self-proclaimed hot dog slanger.

Q: What got you started working out?

A: I need all the strength and endurance I can get in order to keep up with Harper.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?

A: I work out 3x weekly right now. Member of Strength Collective semi private training.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?

A: Bench and running!

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

A: Bananas!

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?

A: Finding time to make it to the gym.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?

A: I like to push myself to new levels. Working out is pretty much just playing a bunch of little games with yourself. Have fun with it!

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?

A: Get your butt in here! In my opinion, the hardest part about going to the gym is going to the gym. Once you’ve been here a few times and start to develop a routine it gets kinda fun.

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

A: General mobility. I can move around so much easier now than when I first started the gym.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Being able to run like Forrest Gump!

Q: What goals are you working on now?

A: I tore my ACL/meniscus and had surgery earlier this year. My goal is to get into better shape than before my knee injury. 

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:

A: I could watch pimple popping videos for hours.

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

A: Belonging to a tribe who wants to see me succeed. It’s great to have knowledgeable trainers who will keep you accountable and have your back. I also value the friendships I’ve made at the gym. You develop a camaraderie when you’re getting your butt kicked together.

Donna Benjamin October Member of the Month

Donna is a 58-year-old retired teacher!

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I needed to lose weight to have knee replacement surgery.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: I work out 3 times a week. I am taking advantage of the semi private training sessions.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: I love bench press, and stretching always feels so good!

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: I love an RLS! (ridiculously large salad)

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Anything cardio is a challenge because my knee pain makes it difficult to do weight bearing exercise for any length of time. I have found that the recumbent elliptical and the rowing machine are my friends!

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: Having the training sessions is a big motivator. I like the social aspect of it. Since I don’t work outside the home, coming to the gym helps me get out and about and seeing friendly faces. And obviously the knee surgery is a big motivator. I am also a singer, so being in shape helps me with that as well. I have to give a shout out to my husband, Bret Benjamin who is one of my best cheerleaders. Also, all of the staff are always so encouraging. Jenna, Kat, and Matt are always giving helpful hints and giving me things to think about to improve my healthy lifestyle.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Do it! Working out has helped me in so many ways! You will feel stronger. Your balance will improve, the feeling of accomplishment is worth all of the sweat you put into it. Think of it as an investment in yourself!

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: I could barely get up and down off the floor. Now I can do it several times in a workout.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I am most proud of the fact that I have made working out a habit.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: I have 10 more pounds to lose and then I can have my surgery! Also, the exercises I am doing will make the recovery better for me.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I am a singer/songwriter and I am beginning to create content online.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: I feel like there is a strong sense of community here. Also, it’s so nice to see Walter hanging out! He’s so cute!

Kim Noe September Member of the Month

Kim is a 35-year-old Program Manager.

Q: What got you started working out?

A: I was at a pivotal point in my life where I had a drastic change. I knew that if I didn’t start taking care of myself, physically and mentally I wouldn’t become my best self. 

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?

A: 3-4 days a week, the 6AM club only!

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?

A: Sumo deadlift – it’s one exercise that I totally kick butt!

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

A: A high protein breakfast of eggs with fruit

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?

A: The first week of a new routine – you are always sore because you are working new muscle groups

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?

A: Knowing that I perform my best mentally and makes sure my clothes fit better.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?

A: Find your why. Not the easy way of “I want to lose weight”, but the deeper why.

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

A: Pull-ups, even if they are assisted with the band.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Sumo deadlift of 230!

Q: What goals are you working on now?

A: I’m working more on the food aspect now. Eating because it fuels my body instead of helping me cope with stress, emotions, etc. 

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:

A: I was born without wisdoms teeth. 

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

A: The community – I wouldn’t be nearly as committed if it weren’t for my 6AM club – the sassy and encouraging group. 

Jessica Wiley August Member of the Month

Jessica is a 40-year-old Assurance Manager.

Q: What got you started working out?

A: I was having knee issues and my doctor told me to lose weight and strengthen my leg muscles. I did a lot of research regarding diets and various exercises and came to the conclusion that lifting weights and increased walking was the best thing for healthy weight loss. The Strength Collective was running an 8 week special, so I signed up.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?

A: I attend the semi-private training sessions three times per week.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?

A: Deadlift and bench press!

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?

A: I’m a single mom of three kids, so finding time between all four of our schedules. However, there are so many times to choose from at the Strength Collective, I can usually find three days that fit in my schedule.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?

A: After a while, I genuinely started to enjoy it. Other than the physical benefits, it has also improved my mental health. It helps reduce my stress and I just feel better after a workout.

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

A: Oh, I have hit so many personal records! I had never used weights before I started. I couldn’t even lift the 35 lb bar in any exercise. Now I can lift 100 lbs or more depending on the exercise.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: I set a goal at the beginning of this year to bench 100 lbs. I hit that this past March.

Q: What goals are you working on now?

A: I just had ACL reconstruction surgery. So my goals right now are getting back to being able to squat and deadlift.

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

A: All the trainers are knowledgeable and friendly. They know when to modify something for you and also when to push you. Even the other members are friendly and helpful. I don’t feel intimidated when I am there. It’s a safe and inviting atmosphere.

Janet Wehrly July Member of the Month

Janet is a 45-year-old nurse!

Q: What got you started working out?

A: I needed to get moving again after some big life changes and kickboxing looked fun!!

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?

A: I work out 4-5 days a week with a mix of kickboxing and semi-private strength training.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?

A: Can you guess? Kickboxing, but I am finding I am loving the weight training as well!

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

A: Protein coffee and breakfast as I run to work.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?

A: Originally, fitting a workout into my schedule. Now, I focus on form and making sure to push myself!

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?

A: My accountability/workout buddy and how I feel when I work out! I find that gym time does wonders for my mood and mental health!

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?

A: Go! Check it out!

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

A: Push ups!

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: I can fit into my smaller scrubs again!!

Q: What goals are you working on now?

A: Getting my steps in consistently and secretly.. pull-ups!

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

A: There are always friends to be made and new things to learn!

Laura Hendricks June Member of the Month

Laura is a 35-year-old Help Desk Nerd at OSF Healthcare.


Q: What got you started working out?

A: I decided in September of 2021 to have Gastric Bypass. I was 325 pounds, five feet tall, disabled and had just broken my foot at work. It was rock bottom time! After a sixteen month process, I had my surgery July 23,2022. I knew I had to make the best of my tool!

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?

A: I typically work out three times a week unless my schedule goes crazy! The Semi Private Training is always full of really supportive, awesome people!

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?

A: Dancing. I do enough of it! But, in all sincerity, I’ve become really impressed with my deadlift! There was a time that even the bars were a no go!

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

A: Flavored Tuna Packets with Avocado or Cottage Cheese and Fruit! Bariatric staples!

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?

A: I have lived with a disability my entire life. Cerebral Palsy has never defined me but, I have had to fight my inner monologue. I’ve had to overcome “I can’t do that.” and instead ask “How CAN I do that?”

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?

A: I’ve lost one hundred and forty-seven pounds so far! There’s no one cuter than me. right now! But, the pain relief, the increase in my stamina and the improvements to my balance and strength are amazing! The smaller clothes is just a bonus!

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?

A: Self Care and Self Love are not Selfish. I heard a lot when I first started that I was prioritizing myself over other people. I do but, I’m also able to show up for them more now than I could have a year ago!

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

A: Get off the floor. I live in a disabled body. I fall. So, when I started I wanted to work on practical things, like getting myself up safely after a fall. Now, when I get off the floor occasionally someone will say “I still can’t believe you can do that! Do it again!”

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: The way that I carry myself is so different. She’s pretty unstoppable! The way my body feels, functions and just exists takes president over the fact that I’m really cute!

Q: What goals are you working on now?

A: I want to learn to ride a bike. I never learned as a kid because of my balance! I think thirty-five is my year!

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:

A: I read at the very least one book a week. I have a soft soot for British Boybands. I believe that flowers and coffee are weekly necessities. I have a big vinyl collection!

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

A: I get to show up as myself. I get to work out with people that care for me! It’s been awesome to put on hard work alongside people that are cheering for me!

Gary Brown May Member of the Month

Q: What got you started working out?

A: To get healthier and improve flexibility.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?

A: Aging Strong ( old people ) class on Monday and Fridays. I also try to get to gym 2 additional days.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?

A: Lateral Box Runs

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

A: I don’t have one. 

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?

A: I have always involved in sports from high school so it’s not a challenge to workout.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?

A: Staying flexible and strong!

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?

A: Do not be afraid to get started. I have talked to friends about my age and they do not think they could do the workouts. All of us started slow… Just do it!

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

A: Flexibility was a major problem for me. I could not reach down to the floor without kneeling…now I can.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Flexibility and I’m surprised how much stronger I am!

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:

A: I pitched fastpitch softball for 20 years throughout the Midwest. I would pitch 70 games per summer.

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

A: The people I work out with…Aging Strong is a fun group!