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.

Steeven Smith April Member of the Month at The Strength Collective

Steeven is a 48-year-old Grocery Stock Clerk who is retired from the Army.

Q: What got you started working out?
A: One of my friends got me started working out when I was deployed in the military, It was a great way to keep in shape and to make time go by.

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

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Bench Press

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Tru-Mass Chocolate/Peanut Butter shake

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: The most challenging thing about working out to me is just getting to the gym. After work if I don’t get right to the gym, I will lose all drive and motivation to go. So I have my stuff ready, get home, grab and go. If I sit down, game over.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: My Wife, definitely. We have been married for a year now and together for five. She is my rock and my best friend. We are both pushing 50 and I want to stay healthy and be around a long time to spend with her.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Develop and follow a plan. Know your limitations and strengths. And don’t overdo it to the point of injury.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: I like being able to make and follow a workout plan. I couldn’t do that when I started due to the ever-changing schedule of the military. I normally just squeezed in whatever I could, whenever I could.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Staying the course and staying at it all these years.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: I’m working on implementing more cardio into my workout program. I am not a fan of it, but I know it needs to be done.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: Most may not know that I served in the US Army Infantry on active duty for nearly 25 years with 5 combat deployments.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: I love the small gym feeling: where you recognize everyone in there and it never really gets busy to the point where you have to wait on a machine or equipment. The 24hr access is a great perk and of course the dogs.

Josh Swedlund February Member of the Month at The Strength Collective Galesburg

Josh is 26-years-old and is an avid Olympic lifter.

Q: What got you started working out? A: I started working out at The Strength Collective because I needed a new gym due to all the shutdowns last year. They were the only gym where I felt I had the freedom to train in the style I’m interested in. At The Strength Collective you’ll see me mostly training for the Olympic lifts. I’ve been training in this style since 2018 and I’m addicted. I’ve always trained since I was young whether it be for sport or martial arts but I started Olympic lifting because I thought it was the ultimate test of strength, power, mobility and coordination.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: I work out 3-5 days a week. I always try for 5 but it doesn’t always happen and that’s okay. I’m not part of any official group at The Strength Collective but it has been quite fun recently training alongside Mike (Mav) and Jenna. It’s always just a little bit easier to push yourself when you have good training partners.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Clean and Jerk

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Any type of chicken and rice.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: In the beginning I think the hardest part about working out is just getting to the gym to start training. Once the initial habit of going to the gym is built I think the hardest part is juggling proper programming, diet and sleep.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: Beyond the physical benefits I think exercise is a great stress reliever and usually helps boost your mood during and after a workout. I feel it’s important to strive for both a healthy body and mind.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Find a workout style that you are TRULY interested in. Whether it be Olympic lifting, bodybuilding, CrossFit, powerlifting etc. If you’re actually interested in getting better at it, you will come back for more. It doesn’t really matter which style you choose, they all work as long as you’re consistent. Also for someone who is new, it’s okay to ease into light workouts in the beginning and work on form. You don’t want to exhaust yourself too badly to the point you have to skip workouts right from the start.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: My upper back and shoulder mobility was so awful in the beginning, I couldn’t get close to the proper positions for the Olympic lifts. It took months of mobility work to even begin to feel comfortable with the bar overhead.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I’m not sure I have any accomplishments that I’m particularly proud of, but getting 315 in the clean and jerk and 225 in the snatch felt like pretty big milestones to reach.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: I’ll continue trying to improve in the classic lifts but I need to increase my leg strength first so I’m starting a new squat program soon.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I can speak some Swedish since I studied abroad there for almost 6 months.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: I think the gym is very well balanced. There’s equipment and weights for everyone regardless of how they choose to exercise. There’s normally always someone working out but the gym is never overcrowded so you get the best of both worlds. Everyone at the gym is generally friendly so you shouldn’t ever feel out of place or afraid to say hello! If you want to workout with me or need help with your Olympic lifts let me know!

Kelly Poyner – January Member of the Month at The Strength Collective Galesburg

Starting the new year off right by introducing our January MOTM Kelly Poyner. Kelly is a 57-year-old consultant and coach. She trains with us 3 days a week with her sister Melissa.

Q: What got you started working out?
A: The necessity to get truly healthy, be vital, and able to live into my 80’s & 90’s.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out?
A: Three days a week. Currently meeting with our personal trainer.

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

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: A Buddha bowl with salad, a protein, and avocado.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: The first step: Making myself show up!

Q: How do you stay motivated to work out consistently?
A: Seeing the changes in my body and seeing some muscle.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about starting or just getting started in the gym?
A: Don’t rethink it – make it happen! You will start loving yourself!

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: I was at my weakest in 17 years. Getting through the warm up was tough. I love that I can dead hang longer than 15 seconds and I actually deadlift with a bar and weights now!

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: The fact that I have not quit. Getting ready to start my 6th month and feeling stronger every single day!

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: I would like to loose a few more pounds. That said, I am ready to work harder on building and sculpting muscle and getting even stronger.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I believe that energy affects every aspect of our being.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: My trainers Jenna and Katrina. And the fact that they meet you where you are and push you to do your best. Love hearing “well done”!

Denver Willis- November Member of the Month at The Strength Collective

We’re proud to announce this month’s member of the month is Denver Willis! Denver is a 35 year old “Army Dude” and shares our passion of getting people in the community active and engaged. Read more about Denver and his fitness journey below!

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I was the youngest of 4 boys and was constantly picked on by them! So I figured I had the grit part down, and if I was to get bigger, faster and stronger they would leave me alone. It worked.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out?
A: 5-6

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Lat Pulldowns

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

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Finding that perfect atmosphere to work out in! Fortunately, The Strength Collective provides that in the Galesburg area!!

Q: How do you stay motivated to work out consistently?
A: My 4 kids and smokin’ wife! I have the need to want to keep up with all of them!

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about starting or just getting started in the gym?
A: Do it! Don’t stop. Consistency is the key when it comes to the gym or fitness in general.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: That would be burning off my COVID excess body weight in less than a month at 35!

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I’m a musician at heart!!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: The members and staff!

Thank you Denver for being a great member of our gym community and for your service to our country!