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Flock combines love of fitness with business

BELDENVILLE -- A runner at heart, Heather Flock has kept on the move.

Since graduating from Ellsworth High School in 1994, Flock's been busy with healthy lifestyle pursuits for herself and others. The latest is Fitness Influence, an enterprise specializing in yoga, aerobics, weightlifting and personal training she's operating from her Beldenville residence.

"This has been my life-long dream," she said Friday, adding, "I've always wanted my own business."

The opportunity presented itself while the Ellsworth native was participating in a favorite pastime: being a triathlete, she said. She had trained for her first half-ironman, the Tinman Triathlon in Menomonie.

"People I knew asked me, 'Do you mind if I train with you?'" she said.

The business evolved from those initial inquiries to teaching classes twice daily, leading groups on spin bikes Saturdays, in willpower and strength training Wednesdays and Sundays, and more. She said group numbers have grown so quickly over the venture's nine-month history (at some sessions, they range from 16-18) that space has gotten tight in the renovated storage building it shares with her husband's "toys" behind their home.

"We're going to put up a new building," she said, pointing to a vacant area of their property beside the house.

That construction project, a structure which will be sufficiently large to match the entire existing building plus hold a loft for spin bikes and feature men's and women's showers as well as children's play room, is simply a matter of keeping pace to Flock. In the midst of getting her fitness outlet established, she's also producing her first exercise DVD, for example.

"I hope to sell it to my classes, along with anyone who may be intimidated or nervous about working out with others," she said.

The hour-long production will focus on functional fitness, how people can start exercising without needing special equipment, shoes, even socks, she said. It will show modifications to be used for whatever their physical level. She expects to teach an actual class for inclusion in the finished product. To be done by an experienced producer who was once one of the personal trainer's students, taping is scheduled to start early next month for completion in March.

Adding to her whirlwind schedule is a new part-time job at Victory Fitness in Stillwater, Minn. The owner, a friend from when both previously worked at Lifetime Fitness in Woodbury, Minn., eventually convinced her to join the staff after she'd initially declined. After all, she'd just ended a job as health and wellness director at Red Wing's YMCA she held for six years and didn't know if she wanted another commitment.

"I still teach on Fridays there," she said.

Fitness Influence, a name Flock chose from what used to be her e-mail, has been her main emphasis. She persuaded her spouse Kris, who's handy with carpentry besides his regular job at The Service Agency in Ellsworth, to not only give up part of that home storage building, but renovate it, too. He installed drywall, flooring, a bathroom and fixtures to make the business' portion suitable for classes. It's outfitted with nine spin bikes, exercise balls, barbells and dumbbells.

Class members do stretching, kick boxing, cardiovascular routines and aerobics set to music, she said. Modifications are introduced as necessary; participants might lift three-pound weights instead of 10-pound ones or take on five sets rather than 12, for instance. Sometimes, the routines are changed in order to achieve results.

"We put our legs somewhere else or our arms someplace else," she said.

Students generally sign up monthly, though they can arrange to attend per-time if there's conflicting commitments, she said. Many in her classes haven't missed a session since she began last April, however. One of her students is pregnant and the routines can be tailored to such students' needs. The best way for the public to get more information about her fitness endeavors is by checking the web site and, if interested in joining, e-mailing to . Phoning 273-5095 is another option.

Flock said she's been educated in her present pursuits. After EHS, she went to UW-La Crosse, where she majored in exercise sports science and minored in business. Her classes included human anatomy and kinesiology. While there, she met her mate. She finished her undergraduate degree at Sanibel Island in Florida.

In 2000, she moved to Madison and became a personal trainer, teaching classes on the Capitol Square, she said. While in that occupation, she decided to do more, so returned to La Crosse to gain a masters degree in sports administration. The topic of her thesis was: "How to direct a successful road race in Minnesota and Wisconsin." Having run a lot of them, she wanted to be a race director, she said.

Her home enterprise is also rooted in her desire for a "haven," which was realized after Kris, whose hometown is Cashton, came back from two years in the military. The couple has two children--Halle, age four, and Kohl, two--both the "joy of my life," she said. For the daughter of Craig and Jan Chartier, those energetic youngsters are further reason to keep going.