Coaching Couple

Amy and Jesse Hudson give a glimpse of their new gym for unlikely exercisers.
Who says athletes are the only ones who benefit from a little coaching?

Amy and Jesse Hudson were unlikely exercisers, so they opened a gym for similar people. Now in their late 30s and back in Minnesota after living in Illinois, they’re in the best shape since their 20s. “Our clients are generally people who are busy professionals, busy parents that want results of spending time in the gym,” Jesse says.

The Exercise Coach in Eden Prairie looks more like a studio space, with equipment designed for improving muscle quality through circuit training in group or one-on-one sessions. What’s more is that the workout schedule only calls for two, 20-minute workouts a week. It’s all designed for safe workouts for any age. You’re pushing the machines instead of the machines pushing you with technology that remembers every client and his or her fitness goal through unique profiles.

Every machine customizes a range of motion for each client’s existing strength, creating a workout that fatigues muscles in a safe way. Trainers are able to constantly re-test their clients, so the workout encourages improvement.

“It’s for people who want to improve, even [those] over 60, who think they can’t get a good workout without injury,” Jesse says. “It’s about enjoying strength and getting your body in a place where you can do what you want as you age.”  

“It’s for people that aren’t fitness fanatics,” Amy says. “We’re removing barriers.” Barriers including age, reluctance and busy schedules.

Eden Prairie’s Exercise Coach isn’t the first to open nationally, but it’s the first to open in Minnesota. The concept is part of what brought the couple back to Minnesota, where they had graduated from Bethel University in St. Paul prior to relocating out of state.

At The Exercise Coach, the 40-minute weekly commitment is a big draw for professionals with full calendars who want the results of spending time in the gym. Client Pete Waggoner discovered it after turning 50 and reaching a place he didn’t want to be with his body. In seven weeks at the Hudson location, he lost 35 pounds. “The concept of working out 5–6 days a week is impossible for my career,” says Waggoner, who was surprised to find how little a time commitment The Exercise Coach requires. He was even more surprised when he started seeing results. “You do have to see and believe and learn,” Waggoner says. “It’s been incredible."

With January seeing a spike in gym memberships, one of the main dilemmas gyms face is client retention. While their business only opened late last spring, Amy and Jesse believe their club’s high retention rate is due to their personal service. “Most gyms love people to pay and not come in,” Jesse says, noting The Exercise Coach’s clients don’t want to disappoint their trainers or work out anywhere else. “This is the one thing they would love to do, and it’s not a good fit anywhere else.”

And while Amy and Jesse once dreaded the gym, it’s now where they spend the majority of their time, motivating clients and staying in shape themselves. “Our girls love it; it’s our family business,” Amy says.