Entrepreneur Taps Inner Strength To Launch Fitness Center

By Maria Lockwood Superior Telegram, Wis.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr)> Personal Fitness trainer Kelly Kellar says the journey from trainer to business owner has been about empowerment. It's a message she now wants to pass on to others in both body and mind at her fitness studio "The Strength Factory."

Superior Telegram, Wis.

With the opening of her new business, Kelly Kellar flexed some new muscles.

"I do not like to sell myself," said Kellar, owner and sole proprietor of The Strength Factory. "I'm about building other people up, so being in the spotlight like that, my nerves were just shot."

She launched an indiegogo campaign this spring to raise the $20,000 needed to secure a business loan and equipment. The public response pointed to a strong future for her fitness enterprise.

"It was the last day we had, I think, $5,000 left (to raise)," Kellar said. "It's like watching the stocks. You know, you kind of just want to run away but you really can't and you know you only have a few hours left. But a lot of people really came through at the last minute, and all of a sudden it was three grand over."

Propelled by backers and some dedicated friends, Kellar turned the inside of the former train depot at 933 Oakes Ave. into a fitness center. The Strength Factory opened Sept. 12 after a flurry of painting, cleaning and construction.

"It was a mad dash," said Kellar, of Proctor, but classes, including the Strong Compass program for veterans, are now up and running.

"It's a big new adventure," said Jessica Karpinske, a kettlebell instructor. "I'm just excited to get going and see what we can do over here with more space."

Many of the center's six trainers taught at Kinetic Fitness, which closed its doors in May. The new depot-based center offers many of the same fitness options Kinetic did, from body weight and TRX to kickboxing and kettlebells. Spinning and rowing machines are also available.

"It's a very different kind of gym without all the treadmills and all those other machines," Karpinske said. "Why do we need anything more than some kettlebells and some bags? It's all I've ever known."

With 7,000 square feet of space, class sizes can double to about 20.

Kellar is contracting with a yoga instructor to offer classes and is open to bringing additional classes and instructors into the mix.

By October, Kellar will be launching specialty programs including boot camp and The Amazing 12, a 12-week transformation course that focuses on fitness and nutrition.

"The results are amazing," Kellar said. "I have never seen anything like it myself in six years of instruction. It takes the normal weight training I've been accustomed to, where it's heavy weights, low reps, and knocks it right out of the park."

Strong Compass has already launched its new session. The nonprofit outreach program, aimed at helping veterans who served in combat zones transition to civilian life, helped shift John Moder's life in a new direction. The Wrenshall native served in Iraq as a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard from 2011-2012. By the time he gave Strong Compass a try in 2014, he was a changed man.

"I hadn't talked to anyone in two years," Moder said. "It was terrible."

He was jobless, living at his grandparents' with his two children and fiancé and his car had just been repossessed. He was going to college but he spent a lot of time at home developing negative habits. Strong Compass set him on a new course.

"I went through it and just fell in love," Moder said. "It helped me in ways I didn't even know I needed to be helped in, so a lot of subtle stuff, social anxiety I didn't even know I had."

He wasn't alone.

"I came in feeling like I was an outsider, this kind of different veteran, but when I got to talk to everyone, they were almost the same in the way they felt," Moder said. The exercise portion of the program provided the catalyst for natural connections to take root and grow into camaraderie.

Today, he's a head trainer.

"I studied pre-med stuff at UMD, but decided that this is something I'm more passionate about," Moder said, making people healthy instead of fixing them.

Strong Compass has a new home, thanks to Kellar.

"Since Kinetic was closing down and no one was going to take it over, she made the decision that she definitely wanted to find a home not only for Strong Compass but for herself, growing as a person, an entrepreneur," Moder said. "It was just a huge step."

The journey from trainer to business owner has been about empowerment, Kellar said. She wants to pass that power on to others through The Strength Factory.

"A lot of people come here for different reasons," she said. "For my personal journey it was about understanding that strength does not come from what your body type looks like. So I want the public to know that; that we're not about stressing how you have to look a certain way or be a certain fit for here. This is for everybody in the community. I want to bring everybody in. We definitely have the space for it." Like the fitness programs it offers, The Strength Factory is about change. "I didn't expect to fall into this," Kellar said. "It just kind of fell on me. It's well worth the challenge, I think, just because with the outpouring of support that the community wants something like this. It's worth taking the risk." For more information, visit The Strength Factory Facebook page, www.strengthfactory.com/ or " target="_blank">strongcompass.com/. ___ (c)2016 the Superior Telegram (Superior, Wis.) Visit the Superior Telegram (Superior, Wis.) at www.superiortelegram.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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