Success Stories

TOM ERNST

Five months ago, Tom Ernst came to Fit4Lincoln with the intent of trimming down and bulking up. Approaching his 50th birthday, he wanted to change his numbers – both on the bathroom scale and at the doctor’s office.

He needed some inspiration and didn’t mind the perspiration it would require to change his lifestyle.

He looked at the variety of class times, looked at his own schedule, and decided the 30-minute class beginning at 6 a.m. would be the best fit.

Five months later, Fit4Lincoln has proven to be a great fit for his busy lifestyle. The electrical engineer says five months of Boot Camp classes at Fit4Lincoln have helped him drop 30 pounds, two jean sizes, and one shirt size. He also likes what he sees in his blood-pressure readings as the middle-aged Lincolnite attempts to lower the likelihood of diabetes and other diseases associated with aging.

“I’d reached a point where I wanted to experience the benefits of being healthy and avoid the complications of aging,” he said. He appreciates the “practical, common-sense” approach at Fit4Lincoln and has used the trainers’ nutritional assistance to develop a healthier diet.

LANA KELLER

“I just thought I had to live with the pain,” she shared. That all changed when she met personal trainer and Fit4Lincoln owner Matt Priess. Priess guaranteed Keller that if she did the work she would see results, and she did. “He really wants to help people,” she said.

Priess brought the avid biker back from a leg injury she suffered in an accident on Mother’s Day 2013 and helped her slim down from a size 14/16 to a size 6 with a personal training regimen and MyFitnessPal, a weight-loss app. “I went from a 46-inch waist to a 31-inch waist,” Keller shared.

Working her core

She didn’t think she could do what Priess was asking her at first — things like push-ups, sit-ups, burpees and box jumps. “He had a lot of patience,” she shared. Priess incorporated modifications until she could do what he was asking. Prior to last fall Keller said she had tried to avoid anything that might hurt her back. “I thought I was helping my back by not doing these things,” she said.

She learned that working her core was the key. Now Keller can swing kettle bells, drag tires down the alley and do several sit-ups and push-ups in a row. “A lot of it was her mindset,” Priess said. “I would tell her ‘Just try it’.”

“I never thought I’d stick with it because it’s hard work.” Now she admits she’s addicted to the boot camp-style workouts. “I like how I feel when I’m done.” In addition to her personal training sessions she attends classes at Fit4Lincoln, like Zumba, yoga, and Fit@40.

‘Obese to normal’

Keller, 58, wants to be an inspiration for others, no matter what their age, sex or injury. After 10 months working with Priess she is pain-free and has lost more than 50 pounds. “Before I was considered obese; now I’m normal,” she shared.

CHRIS WALTERS

Chris Walters didn’t need a fitness specialist to tell him he was out of shape.

He did, however, need one to help him get in shape.

When a simple walk began to drain his energy level, he knew it was time to take charge. Seeking to increase his core strength, decrease his weight and improve his general conditioning, he dropped in last November at Fit4Lincoln, where one of his friends was teaching classes. He quickly discovered that the group motivation at the gym far exceeded anything he could experience on his own.

The intensity level of the Fit Body Boot Camp classes was challenging – and rewarding. He liked the class setting and the feeling of being part of a team.

“The group motivation there is great,” reflected the 24-year-old Lincolnite. “It’s nice to receive encouragement from not only my instructors but also the members working out alongside of me. I feel obligated to not only show up but to do my best, because I don’t want to let down the team.”

Chris also likes how Fit4Lincoln classes feature a variety of workouts. “I’m going to the gym on a regular basis, but I don’t feel like I’m stuck in a rut … they like to mix up the workouts.”

In the past, Chris had lifted weights, but he never experienced something as “uplifting” as this. And as his condition improved, so did his endurance. Two months after his first class, he found that his improved energy level had reached a point where he could take back-to-back, 30-minute classes, at 5:30 a.m. and again at 6:05. His schedule of 2-to-3 gym trips per week has been ramped up to 4-to-5 per week.

His improved condition allows him to stay on top of his hectic schedule, and to have something left in the tank at the end of the day. He works 45 hours a week as an assistant manager at a grocery store in Omaha. He juggles that commute by taking 14 credit hours at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he’s scheduled to graduate in May with a major in Industrial Leadership.

In just four months, he’s trimmed 35 pounds from his 245-pound frame and dropped a total of about a dozen inches. He aspires to drop another 15 pounds.

JULIE KREIKEMEIER

Julie Kreikemeier had exercised on occasion at theUNL Campus Recreation Center, but her workouts just weren’t working out.

That was before she saw a Groupon to enroll in classes at Fit4Lincoln. She turned to a workout friend and said: “Let’s do this!’”

She looked at the six-week trial offer as an opportunity to see if the Fit Body Boot Camp classes at Fit4Lincoln would be an answer to her quest to get in shape. She hit the gym 4-to-5 times a week. The results began to show, and she could feel her performance improve.

When the six-week trial period ended, she didn’t hesitate about extending her membership. Eight months after the first workout, she’s now 30 pounds lighter and well on her way to fulfilling her promise.

“I told myself, ‘I’m going to get fit for me.’ It’s nice to be able to fit into smaller jeans, but the real satisfaction is the improvement I’m making in the number of exercise repetitions.”

The 23-year-old UNL graduate student from Dodge, Nebraska, has ramped up her workout schedule, doing back-to-back, 30-minute classes at 5:30 and 6:05 a.m., 3-to-4 days a week at the center, located north of 33rd and A streets.

“I never thought fitness would be fun,” says Julie, an agricultural education major with an emphasis in leadership. “I needed some structure in my exercise program, and I knew going in that this would either kick my butt or I’d love it.”

The end result has been the latter.

“The trainers are great, and the atmosphere is very welcoming, like it’s one big, happy family.”

Julie is on schedule to earn her master’s in May of this year. Her goal is to be an Extension educator … and to continue her healthy lifestyle, of course, thanks to Fit4Lincoln.

DEB JONES

Deb Jones’ quest for a healthier lifestyle kicked into high gear with an abrupt wake-up call 2 ½ years ago: breast cancer.

It’s difficult to see an upside to breast cancer, but if there was one in my case, that was it,” says the 45-year-old Lincoln woman who’s since been declared cancer-free.

The diagnosis occurred just four months after she was married, during a mammogram exam that she thought was going to be a routine procedure. It led to surgery in September 2012, seven weeks of radiation – and a realization that she needed to take better care of her body.

Following treatments, she embarked on developing her own fitness program. Wanting to shed weight and reduce her body-fat percentage, she lost 20 pounds on her own and reduced her body-fat percentage by 5%. When she plateaued, she turned to Fit4Lincoln in May 2014. Developing a rigorous schedule of Boot Camp classes at the gym north of 33rd and A streets, she lost an additional 15 pounds and lowered her body-fat percentage by another 8%. She’s dropped three pant sizes in the process.

After 20 years of trial-and-error, she’s found a workout regimen that’s effective and fits her busy lifestyle.

“I’d been a yo-yo dieter for 20 years and tried about every fad diet there is,” including four-month weight loss challenge that resembled the “Biggest Loser” challenge, she said. “They all seem to focus on taking the weight off, but not on keeping it off.”

Deb loves the camaraderie at Fit4Lincoln and works out 4-to-5 times a week, catching the 6 a.m. workouts en route to work at B&R Stores headquarters, where she’s a full-time computer programmer. She’s not only an avid member of Fit4Lincoln, she’s a great recruiter: 11 of her friends have now followed her there.

Her elevated energy level has also allowed her to enter and complete half-marathons in Lincoln and Las Vegas. She’s signed up for a half-marathon in Lincoln in November, and plans to run some 5- and 10-kilometer races this spring and summer.

She’s such an advocate of fitness that she dove into online classes to become a certified personal trainer, finished the courses and passed the test March 15.

They say, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ I truly believe that and am so thankful God gave me another chance to be my best, and inspire others along the way,” Deb reflected.

MIKE WHITMORE

Before Mike Whitmore started at Fit4Lincoln, he was smoking a pack and a half a day and could barely run across the street. Earlier this year, he finally became fed up with his unhealthy habits.

“I was going through a lot of things at the time, and I just needed to get out and do something,” Whitmore said.

He met Fit4Lincoln owner Matt Priess and was immediately blown away by his geniality and genuine eagerness to help.

“If you’re new, he doesn’t just let you walk in, he’ll introduce you to everyone at the gym, saying ‘This is so-and-so, she’s new so wish her luck and help her out when you can.’”

Whitmore praised both Priess and the rest of gym goers for motivating him to keep going.

“That’s what’s different about this gym. I’ve had a trainer and been to a couple other gyms before, but these people actually cared about you and wanted you to succeed. They’re all amazing people.”

Beyond the gym

The familial atmosphere Priess created has even extended beyond the gym. Many of the members run races together and have forged friendships through the solidarity of hard work.

“Matt’s become a really good friend of mine. I went to his daughter’s birthday party, his brother’s birthday party … he’s a great all-around person; this isn’t just a job for him.”

Since joining, Whitmore’s eating habits have improved drastically, he’s run two 5K races and the last cigarette he smoked was Jan. 6.

“I am really proud of him to see him make so many positive changes in his life,” Priess says. “He is now one of my most avid members and a good friend to me.”

Grateful

Whitmore is now in the best shape he’s ever been in, but said his accomplishments won’t end here. Every day, he aims to be better than the day before. With a supporting cast like the one he has at Fit4Lincoln, located north of 33rd and A streets, that shouldn’t be a problem.

“I don’t even know where to begin to thank Matt. It’s been a whole new world for me since I joined”

VALINCIA PRICE

It began with an invitation to a pool party last summer.

Feeling confident in a swimsuit was motivation enough for Valincia Price to begin her weight-loss journey. Over the next 10 months, the 41-year-old mother of two would accomplish more on her journey than she could ever imagine.

Amidst the multitude of fitness facilities in the Capital City, Price chose to enroll at Fit4Lincoln, located just north of 33rd & A streets. The facility is owned and operated by NCCPT Certified Personal Trainer and Marine Matt Priess.

“He has a lot of accountability,” Valincia says of Priess. “He knows us by name and he knows us personally; we’re all kind of like a family in there. He’s not just your trainer, he’s your friend.”

The supportive, familial atmosphere has allowed Valincia and dozens of others to achieve their fitness goals and disprove the “life-gets-in-the-way” mentality that so many people in her position use as an excuse for obesity.

“She came to our gym with the goals of toning up and lowering her body-fat percentage,” Priess says. “Thanks to her determination, she’s made great progress.”

Priess’s motivation and encouragement has made such an impact on Valincia that she herself has become a certified trainer in the hopes of passing on his inspiration.

“I feel like already, I’ve inspired a lot of women my age who thought it was too late in life to work out and get in shape.”

Fit4Lincoln offers everything from personal training, to group fitness, corporate wellness, youth fitness and team conditioning. They aim to combat obesity in Lincoln through these various programs and educate their members thoroughly on both exercise and nutrition.

“Some people are embarrassed to get started, but at Fit4Lincoln, nobody is judged. We’re all shapes and sizes. It’s never too late to start exercising.”

On Sunday (May 4), Valincia completed the Lincoln half-marathon. She is now gearing up for a 12-month training regimen that will prepare her to compete in her first-ever fit competition.

MEGAN JOHANSEN

About 10 years removed from her college volleyball days, Megan Johansen has rediscovered the team environment – and some of the same workouts from her college years – at Fit4Lincoln.

The Nebraska native and her four-year-old daughter moved from Florida last March, when she took a job as donor relations manager for CEDARS. Looking for something “stimulating and different” from the workouts she was doing on her own, she noticed a Groupon offer from Fit4Lincoln and decided to take owner-trainer Matt Priess up on his advertised offer.

Arriving for her first Fit Body Boot Camp group class, she was immediately reacquainted with some of the workouts she experienced during her years as a setter for her high school and college volleyball teams.

Nine months later, she’s settled into the activity level she enjoyed during her playing days, and she’s dropped a few pounds along the way. Best of all, daughter Melanie is allowed to bring a few toys and tag along to her mom’s 30-minute class — perfect for a single mom with a busy schedule.

“It’s really been a matter of becoming reacquainted with a workout routine rather than adjusting to one,” says the 31-year-old former athlete, whose road to a college volleyball scholarship at Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, wound through Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa.

Some of the squats, lunges, and lower-body exercises she does today at Fit4Lincoln were part of the routine during her playing days at Arlington, where she graduated high school in 2002, and with her two college teams.

The teammate relationships she enjoyed during her playing days have been replaced by friendships with like-minded, health-conscious classmates at Fit4Lincoln. She likes the close-knit-family feeling she gets at the gym north of 33rd and A streets.

“Not everybody is at the same fitness level, but Matt does a good job of modifying things that fit your particular level,” Megan observed. And yes, it’s called a “Fit Body Boot Camp” fitness class, but don’t let the term fool you, she said. “You hear ‘boot camp’ and everyone has this picture of a drill sergeant yelling in your face,” she said, “but Matt has ways of making it enjoyable while still making it challenging.”

Members in Megan’s class have become Facebook friends. Their posts are filled with pride when they achieve a goal such as doing a “box jump.”

KATIE MURRAY

Too busy to exercise?

Katie Murray thought so too, until she stepped on her bathroom scale and decided it was time for a lifestyle change.

Six months prior to her wedding, a Groupon good for classes at Fit4Lincoln was about to change her lifestyle and her appearance.

The decision

Katie works full time as a dental assistant at Lincoln Pediatric Dentistry and part time as a waitress at Outback Steakhouse. But when the scale peaked at 218.6 pounds last April, the 21-year-old bride-to-be decided to take charge of her life.

Hitting the cardio hard and hiring a personal trainer, she hit the gym four times per week and adhered to nutritional changes suggested by Matt Priess, owner and instructor at Fit4Lincoln. She caught the 5:30 p.m. workout every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Fit4Lincoln, and then stayed over for the 6:05 p.m. class.

The results

By the time her wedding rolled around on Oct. 3, she had made significant progress. As of Nov. 13, her weight was down nearly 50 pounds to 170.2, her body-fat percentage dropped 3% and her pant size had dropped from an 18 to an 11-12.

The “new Katie” says she’s also sleeping better and finds her new energy level allows her to do house-cleaning after she comes home from a busy day. She continues her four-days-a-week workout routine and has set a goal of getting down to 150 pounds.

Katie loves the “family atmosphere” at Fit4Lincoln and finds owner/trainer Priess a source of encouragement without being overly aggressive. She says her workout regulars are like a “close-knit family” and that she’s developed many friendships at the gym.

ASHLEIGH WATSON

After a year of Boot Camp classes at Fit4Lincoln, Ashleigh Watson figures to be brimming with confidence when she reports for Air Force basic training in San Antonio, Texas.

There is always a little apprehension about embarking on a whole new life, but the goal-oriented young lady can’t imagine better preparation than what she’s received from owner/trainer Matt Priess at Fit4Lincoln.

The career-driven recruit and former ROTC student at Lincoln Northeast High School is in good condition – physically and psychologically – for her next big step in life. It all starts in January, when she leaves for six months of training in San Antonio.

She will be leaving behind 35 pounds she lost through a regimented workout program at Fit4Lincoln. The lifestyle she’s experienced at the fitness center north of 33rd and A streets will serve her well when she begins her military career.

Encouragement from her mother, Becky Timm, led her to Fit4Lincoln, where she experienced the benefits of strength conditioning and changed some eating habits. Junk food was replaced by an emphasis on chicken, fish, and lots of fruits and veggies.

“I just gave up bad foods and started eating right,” she said.

Ashleigh said she’s since relaxed her eating habits a bit, but going to the gym on a regular basis is still a priority. The 2011 LNE graduate juggles her gym schedule with a daytime pet groomer’s job at PetSmart and a part-time after-hours position at a convenience store. She hopes to combine her passion for pets and interest in the military by becoming involved in the military’s K-9 unit.

Fit4Lincoln owner/trainer Matt Priess is proud of Ashleigh and the steps she’s taken to pursue her interests.

“I am really proud of Ashleigh and all her accomplishments,” he said.

“I’m a veteran myself, so being able to help young military recruits get into shape and prepared for boot camp is something I really take pride in,” he said.

“Ashleigh is a very hard worker and will make all of us proud in serving our country.” says Priess