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Fitness classes with a 'punch'

Everyday Fitness Owner Mechelle Howieson led members of her group through exercises Wednesday evening in her basement studio on Jefferson Street in Wadena. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal

Mechelle Howieson slipped on her headset and took her exercise group into the evening's workout with the confidence of a born leader.

The owner of Everyday Fitness in Wadena was in the familiar confines of her basement studio on a July evening. A small but dedicated group of exercise lovers joined her, and the room soon resembled a machine with a lot of moving parts.

Howieson has been a personal trainer since 2011. She moved to her Jefferson Square digs after a stint at the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center.

Howieson is not exactly the same person she was before becoming a self-confident personal trainer.

"It took me a year before I got up the courage to take the test," Howieson laughed.

Accredited with the National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA), Howieson is very much like any other teacher in that her education never ends. She has to take 20 credits every two years to stay on track.

With a business to operate, two sons, a farm near Bertha and a husband on the road a lot, Howieson has learned to grab the bull by the horns. Yet the last thing in the world she wants to do is intimidate her clients.

"I'm committed to them as much as they are committed to me," Howieson said.

Everyday Fitness does not have a single member. Howieson operates her business with punch cards. You take a class with her and it costs you one punch. She wants exercise to be the client's idea.

Howieson has three classes a week in July and four to five in the fall. Both men and women take her classes.

"I think it speaks volumes that I followed her over here," said Rachel Roberts, one of Howieson's clients. "She's very conscious of everyone that is in the room. She makes it very unintimidating."

If there is one thing Howieson knows about exercising, it is that it should spark laughter in the room and should be done with others.

"If you make a joke out of it, you forget about the agony of exercising," Howieson smiled. "It's a herd mentality. My job is to make it fun and entertaining."

Personal training comes in handy when a person has a physical limitation like a bad knee or a bad back. Howieson knows what kind of exercises these people can do and should not do.

"They can hurt themselves and then they won't come back," Howieson said.

While running what she called a "boot camp" with her summer group, Howieson is always scheduling changes to the routine. Along the way she has learned something Minnesota weather and about Minnesotans. One summer she taught yoga outdoors at Tapley Park in Wadena. When the cooler weather of June ended, so did the interest in outdoor yoga lessons.

Summer also sees a fall-off of indoor exercise class attendance because "Minnesotans are busy outside."

Howieson's teaching instincts could determine the growth and direction of her Wadena business. Keeping her class size to around 20 is something that appeals to her.

Coming up for Howieson is a studio partnership with Roxanne Swisher, who plans to offer Qi gong and Reflexology Foot Therapy in the Everyday Fitness Studio on Monday mornings.