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A new destination: Traveling trainers of Destination Fitness open studio in Rice Lake

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Reflected in a mirror, Jamie Monette of Duluth works out during a high-intensity interval training class at Destination Fitness on Saturday. Julie and Mike Hendrickson started Destination Fitness in 2012 with the idea that clients’ homes and workplaces were the destination — but now the couple have a studio all their own on Rice Lake Road. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)2 / 8
Mike Hendrickson (left) works with Darrel Johnson of Duluth during a high-intensity interval training class Saturday. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)3 / 8
A large class works out during a high-intensity interval training class at Destination Fitness on Saturday. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)4 / 8
Julie Hendrickson, co-owner of Destination Fitness. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)5 / 8
Yvette Johnson (left) and her daughter, Desiree Johnson, 10, both of Duluth, work out during a high-intensity interval training class. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)6 / 8
Bonnie Engseth of Hermantown works out during a high-intensity interval training class at Destination Fitness on Saturday. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)7 / 8
Mike Hendrickson laughs while leading a high-intensity interval training class on Saturday. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)8 / 8

When Julie and Mike Hendrickson started Destination Fitness, the clients were the destination.

“Our original slogan was ’your workout, where you want it.’ ” Mike said.

But the nomadic personal trainers now have a home base in Rice Lake, a destination all their own.

Destination Fitness opened its new studio at 4966 Rice Lake Road on Aug. 1. The move follows years of planning and some assurance customers would follow.

“They said, ‘where you go we go,’ ” Julie said.

“We make them sweat, and they still want to follow us,” Mike added with a laugh.

The couple’s business isn’t like gyms that allow members to come any time, swipe a card and hop on equipment. It’s built around classes and personal — sometimes

one-on-one — training. Even with the new location, the in-home or at-work classes aren’t going away, nor is the company’s presence at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

But on New Year’s Eve, Destination Fitness hosted free classes all morning — from bootcamp to zumba, interval training and yogatone — to show people that it’s going to be worth the drive in 2017 and beyond.

The promotion comes at the kickoff of fitness season — getting fit and losing weight were again the top two New Year’s resolutions for more than a third of Americans last year, according to a Nielsen survey. That makes the New Year’s holiday much like Black Friday for gyms and exercise equipment companies.

The Hendricksons hope an influx of newly resolved fitness seekers will push them to capacity and give Destination Fitness a reason to expand even further.

“We’d love to have that problem,” Mike said.

 The journey

Not long ago, Julie Hendrickson was a stay-at-home mom teaching fitness classes when she decided to step it up a notch, get her personal training certification and teach classes at the YMCA. At one point a client requested an at-home session — something the Y couldn’t do, but, she thought, maybe she could on her own?

“It got us thinking, is there a market for that, for personal trainers that move around?”

Since 2012, the two have shown there is, in fact, a market for that.

“We built our business off of our profits,” Julie said. “We didn’t have a chunk of money to just start a business. We didn’t have any money; we just did it the hard way.”

Mike 38, and Julie, 35, met at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She was a volleyball player; he was a football player.

“We met as athletes, and that’s been our relationship,” Julie said. “It’s kind of neat to then be able to make a living this way.”

They already were living the fit life, Mike said. “We’ve had friends ask us what we do for a date — go on a two-hour run? Well, sometimes,” he laughed. “We used to rollerblade to dinner.”

They figure they have more than 20 years of fitness experience between them and much more going back to their time in youth sports.

So starting Destination Fitness was a natural extension of their lives, just as the studio is an extension of their home today.

The destination

Past a four-way stop on Rice Lake Road, a white sign appears in the trees on the right. There is a moment’s hesitation as you worry about pulling into someone’s driveway but see the road forks right into a parking lot.

Either way, you’re pulling into the Hendricksons’ driveway. Destination Fitness has a new home, and so do the Hendricksons, right next door.

“We had looked at possibly buying a building, but felt we could use a bigger yard and help the kids grow,” Mike said.

After buying the property in 2014, they started rehabbing the outbuilding in January that today has all the makings of a brand-new fitness studio.

Mirrors line a wall in both rooms — two rooms so a private session is possible even while a class is going on — and a few pieces of exercise equipment are clustered to the side.

The overhead speakers provide the jams, and the movement of bodies provides the heat.

The decision to locate just outside of town wasn’t based on the lack of other fitness studios in the area — it was just the perfect fit.

“I don’t think competition influenced our decision to move out here,” Julie said. “It was potential, and price of course.”

Easy access off of a plowed road was a plus, as was being able to live next to work and expand the studio onto the ample surrounding acreage if needed. Then there’s the biggest advantage over picking a spot elsewhere: parking.

“People always know they can pull up and get a parking spot, and that’s huge compared to our downtown competition,” Julie said.

A lot of things led Rebecca Hudoba to Destination Fitness — working from home she wanted a social atmosphere, and self-directed workouts weren’t working out.

“Last spring, after searching all sorts of specialty clubs that I couldn’t afford, I found Destination Fitness to be a perfect fit,” she said.

No doubt Hudoba was one of many clients who responded positively when the Hendricksons asked if she’d follow the business to Rice Lake.

“Whatever Julie or Mike say to do, I do it,” she said. “And I’m the strongest I’ve been in years.”

Destination Fitness

Address: 4966 Rice Lake Road

Call for appointments: (218) 260-6562

Visit destinationfitnessmn.com for class schedules and more information

Brooks Johnson

Brooks covers business and the economy for the Duluth News Tribune.

(218) 723-5329
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