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Pair of Woodbury women getting fit with assist from local business

Pam Ihns, far right, and Lori Sorensen are the winners of a "Biggest Loser/Transformation Competition" at Fitness Together in Woodbury. The women are in the middle of a six-month fitness program, where with the help of fitness consultants Rachel Knight, left, and Joe Ferraro, they will aim to lose weight and achieve a sustainable fitness level.1 / 3
As a mother of four children, Pam Ihns said she's hoping the "biggest loser" program she is participating in will set a good example for her kids. As a part of her program, Ihns works out five days a week. Two of those days she brings her youngest, Peyton, 5, to help out.2 / 3
Lori Sorensen works on lunges during a workout last week at Fitness Together. Swanson is in the second month of a six-month fitness plan she won as a part of a "Biggest Loser"-style essay contest Fitness Together debuted last fall.3 / 3

Pam Ihns and Lori Sorensen are already big winners. Now with the help of a local fitness program, they are attempting to be big losers.

The Woodbury-area women were chosen by Fitness Together out of a pool of applicants to enroll in a free six-month fitness program with the local business.

Fitness Together began promoting its "Biggest Loser/Transformation Competition" program late last summer during Woodbury Days. Contestants had to write an essay about why they believed they would be the best candidate for the six-month program and a personal statement on why they felt the fitness transformation would change their lives.

The business, which opened its Woodbury location two years ago, offers personal training for clients in a one-on-one setting. The health and fitness business operates a personalized suite at its Eagle Creek Lane location. Clients work with a team of three trainers who help assess their overall fitness and design a plan for reaching their goals, said Fitness Together Woodbury general manager Rachel Knight.

"We pride ourselves on being completely different than the gym and the health club in that everything here is individualized and in a one-on-one setting," said Knight, a 2003 Woodbury High School graduate, who earned her kinesiology degree from the University of Minnesota.

Similar stories, similar goals

Both Ihns and Sorensen are mothers with multiple children. They have busy schedules, but have committed to the Fitness Together program five to six days a week.

Ihns has four children, three girls ages 8-12, and a son, 5. All of her children are active in youth sports, and Ihns volunteers with the local youth basketball and softball programs. She's a stay-at-home mom who, in addition to taking care of her children, is going to school part-time in hopes of working in the dental field.

"Taking care of my own health kind of got lost in the shuffle with everything else," said Ihns, who was an athletic "tom boy" growing up. "I played softball and volleyball, but when you have a family, that stuff gets cut out," Ihns said.

Eight weeks into her program at Fitness Together, Ihns said she has dropped a few pants sizes.

Sorensen is five weeks into her program and hasn't seen a tremendous amount of weight loss, but she said she can already feel improvement in her cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

"It's really neat, because, some days you just don't want to come in, but then you do and, you start to see results," said Sorenson, a recently divorced mother of three children active in hockey. "I'm hoping to see some good weight loss at some point, but I am noticing the tone in my arms, a sense of better posture, and just a new confidence."

Sorenson said her recent divorce and a job loss have been stressful events. She hopes healthier eating and an exercise routine will bring some balance to her life.

"I was getting heavy to the point, where I was snacking all the time, and just felt like I had no time for anything," Sorensen said. "This is giving me a chance to change that attitude."

Weight loss is secondary

Knight said she had to help both Ihns and Sorensen realize the weight loss shouldn't be their number-one priority.

"Yes, we told them you want to lose X amount of weight," Knight said, "but ultimately we are putting muscle mass on you to really transform what your body is going to look like so it's sustainable."

"Ultimately what we don't want is for them to drop a huge amount of weight and put it right back on the day they are done with us."

Fitness Together fitness consultant Joe Ferraro, who worked with the women during their training sessions last Thursday, said they've both come a long way in just the first weeks of the program.

"The one thing I've noticed is that they are both willing to put in the effort every day they're here," Ferraro said. "And they've developed a good habit of finding a way to put their workouts into their schedule. That's the big thing."

Tracking progress

Over the next several months, Knight said she hopes to feature Ihns and Sorensen's progress in their programs online (at as a testimonial for others who are interested in completing a similar fitness transformation.

"People can get an idea with what their struggling with, relate and then want to be able to make that same change," Knight said. "We want to go beyond the walls of our studio to touch people that maybe can't afford the personal training but could benefit from that inspiration."

The Woodbury Bulletin plans to do a follow-up with the Fitness Together Biggest Loser/ Transformation Competition participants after they've completed their six-month program.