By Tom Felton
Corporate Wellness Director

When I was hired by STā-FIT to become the Corporate Wellness Director, I knew I had to make some changes.

I wasn’t in horrible shape, but certainly far from peak physical condition. If I was going to be out in the business community talking about the importance of exercise and nutrition, it was important of me to be able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Thankfully, Trevor Goodwin had an idea. He’s STā-FIT’s co-owner who hired me to work with local businesses on their wellness plans. Trevor wanted me to try Alloy Group Training as a way for me to get to understand this group training program. I’ve been a member for a decade but have never done any kind of group training. I had a trainer for a few months several years ago, but other than that, I’ve gone to the gym completely on my own.

If I’m going to be out talking to potential STā-FIT clients, I needed to know what I was talking about. And so, my Alloy journey was about to begin.

Alloy sign

I had little idea of what to expect. I am confident in saying I was a decent athlete “back in the day.” I played high school football (OK, I was only the kicker … but it still counts), hockey and tennis. I went on to play three years of college tennis at St. Cloud State, and always thought I’d be one of those guys who would never have to worry about what – or how much – I ate. With that much activity and being in my teens and early 20’s, worrying about gaining weight was never a concern.

Fast-forward about 25 years. Oh, how wrong I was. I started noticing the difference as I got older, my metabolism decreased and my diet stayed the same. Shocking, right?

My likes didn’t change, nor did my habits. I like, make that love, pepperoni and sausage pizza. I love bacon cheeseburgers. I love waffle fries (and that addicting dip that comes with it). I love barbeque ribs. Same with wings and ice cream.

And then, those devilish humans who once made beer in their basements decided to start selling the stuff, and the craft brew craze was on. I had no idea what an IPA was, but I knew it tasted good. Really, really good!

You get the picture. Not exactly a recipe for staying in shape.

My athletic days are now focused on about 60 rounds of golf a year. Most of it is walking, but it’s obviously not enough. It was time for something extra, and this was the perfect opportunity to try Alloy.

One of the objections we hear all the time about joining a gym is “it’s too intimidating.” Count me as one of those 10 years ago, and this was absolutely the case before trying Alloy. Not only was I intimidated, I was rather frightened.

As I check around the room, I see all sorts of contraptions that have the looks of causing bodily harm to an amateur gym-goer. Then I see a sign (see attached photo) with all kinds of abbreviations. I have no idea what they mean, but I’m quite certain is not easy. Turns out, “ALT DB OHP” simply means “Alternating Dumbell Overhead Press.” And, it wasn’t that bad. Easy? Absolutely not. None of the exercises in Alloy are considered easy, and they shouldn’t be. It’s supposed to be challenging, and it is.

But they were doable, even for a guy like me looking to drop some weight but more importantly, get stronger, healthier, have my clothes fit better and simply feel better about myself.

The dreaded “day after” the initial workout had its predictable pitfalls. I always knew there was a reason staircases had railings. Then, a funny thing happened. I continued to work hard (only two mornings a week), and the pain gradually disappeared.

About 20 sessions later, the intimidation is an after-thought and I can honestly say all of the above goals have been accomplished. STā-FIT’s training staff has fantastic knowledge of the program. They make absolutely sure you’re using correct form while doing the exercises and aren’t afraid to push you beyond your comfort level. That said, they are not there to hurt you. They make clear the main objective here is to get in a great workout while not hurting yourself and having fun in the process.

Most of the exercises, you’re going at your own pace. For example, you’ll have 15 minutes to compete a given set of moves – at your own pace.  If you can get seven rounds in, great. Three rounds? No problem. You use the weight of your choice. It can be a 10-pound dumbbell or a 50-pound kettle bell. Your heart will be racing and you will be sweating. Guaranteed.

I still eat pizza, burgers and enjoy a couple IPA’s, and so can you. Just be smart about it.

For more information on Alloy Group Training, call Ben Lee at Sartell STā-FIT at (320) 654-9090.


Tom Fenton is the Corporate Wellness Director for STā-FIT. He works with local businesses on methods to keep members of the Central Minnesota workforce healthy. For more information, contact him at: