BAXTER -- When women walk in the door and want to shed 20 pounds in a week, fitness center owner Nikki Watland just smiles. Then she suggests four months for such a goal.
Watland, who graduated from Bemidji State University with a business degree in 2000, and her mother, Terri, decided to open a 30-minute workout center for women about a year ago. For several months they researched the idea of a franchise, but they turned to a new twist on a growing workout trend of circuit training.
They opened It Figures on Excelsior Drive in Baxter about six months ago. An early goal was more than 100 memberships in three months. They surpassed that goal. Now, It Figures has about 400 members.
The Watlands said they wanted to create a fitness center for women that was feminine and non-threatening with tight trendy workout clothes a rare sight. Instead sweats and shorts and T-shirts are the norm.
It Figures clients move through the 20 station workout spending between 40 seconds to 1 minute at each station. It Figures includes an open workout area and two machines to enhance stretching after workouts.
"It's more about fitness than thinness," Nikki Watland said.
Clients who start the day arrive about 6:30 a.m. for the 30-minute workout sessions. Others come in over lunch hours or after work with 4 p.m. serving as a peak hour. Customers range from 13 to 73. Children who are younger need a doctor's permission slip to workout. Customers come from Crosby, Staples and Nisswa among other area communities. Many work in the area. Monthly membership fees cover a range -- about $29 to $50 -- depending on the plan clients choose. A one-time membership fee is also required. As with other circuit fitness centers there are often coupons or discounts to mitigate those fees.
Beth Anderson, Nisswa, signed up when It Figures opened. The light purple color scheme inside, the neat appearance, the open floor plan and the large glass view of a wooded area behind the center all appealed. Anderson arrives for the 6:30 a.m. workout with a group of regulars she has gotten to know. She said the people are upbeat. And -- between Oct. 15 and a vacation date in February -- Anderson lost 12 1/2 inches across her body. She said others at the center have lost 29 pounds.
"It's a really good workout, but it's not boring," she said. "... It's something that you can keep doing because that was my concern -- Am I going to stay with it? ... I don't think I could do as well at a health club or something. We are there to have fun. We chat and we work out and it works.
"It's a nice atmosphere," Anderson said. "... I feel better. I have more energy. ... You are just in a better mood when you leave."
It Figures has 20 workout stations, which means 20 people can be on the circuit at one time. They change workout equipment stations at regular intervals -- 40 to 45 seconds or 1 minute on a single station. The hydraulic Fit Express equipment is adjustable. Terri Watland said they adjust machines to ensure a variety in workout experiences. One day a machine may take more effort to move than another as the tension is adjusted. Terri Watland said using the adjustments can prevent people from reaching a plateau where they seem to stop seeing progress in workouts.
Beside the hydraulic circuit machines that target specific muscle groups, the Watlands have two machines designed to help clients stretch properly after a workout.
The Watlands went to the Twin Cities for training with It Figures. The It Figures fitness centers are not a franchise chain. Instead the trademark name is granted to privately owned centers whose owners can operate without restrictions on products or programs that may come with a franchise.
Diane Hoglin, Baxter, started at It Figures shortly after they opened. She kept her workout clothes in the car and stopped on the way home after work.
"I'd feel so good mentally and physically because I had done something good for myself," she said.
And Hoglin, who also joined Weight Watchers, went from what she called a tight size 16 to a size 10. Weight Watchers has meetings at It Figures on Tuesday mornings. Hoglin will begin teaching for the Weight Watchers sessions at the end of April. She said it's a position she never expected to be in.
"You like yourself so much better," she said. "If you are consistent with it and take it serious, it's amazing the results you get."
Hoglin said she was not one to exercise before, but it was not long before she felt better physically and mentally.
"I had more energy and I felt better about myself all the way around," she said. "It just kind of cleared my mind. I felt happier. ... It's just a real mental therapy time."
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