Growing up, Amy Hudson never considered herself a fit person.

“I would try my best,” Hudson said, but mentally, she’d already placed herself into the category of a “not-fit” person. That is, until she found the Exercise Coach in Chicago, where she lived with her husband and children. The personalized workout plans and real-time feedback that make up the core of the Exercise Coach’s fitness regimen clicked with Hudson, and when her family moved to Eden Prairie in 2015, she resolved to bring the fitness center with her.

“I said to my husband, ‘I don’t want to live without the Exercise Coach,’” she said. “For the first time I finally felt strong.”

Hudson and her husband, Jesse Hudson, opened Minnesota’s first Exercise Coach location at 574 Prairie Center Drive in 2017, and the pair opened another location in Minnetonka, at 13911 Ridgedale Drive, on Oct. 7. Both locations fit the Exercise Coach’s mission of convenience: Eden Prairie’s is nearby Eden Prairie Center and Minnetonka’s sits at the intersection of Interstate 394 and Interstate 494.

“We exist to be the perfect fit for people for whom regular exercise hasn’t worked,” Hudson explained.

She sorts those people − “the unlikely exerciser” − into four categories: Those who are too busy to fit a workout into their schedule, those who are afraid of hurting themselves, those who dislike the typical gym experience, and those who just don’t like working out. The goal is to create a “nonthreatening, nonjudgmental” space for people to focus on their own fitness goals, which are calculated by the gym’s proprietary technology and displayed to clients on digital displays attached to every machine in order to guide the workout.

“It allows us to capture an individual’s current level of strength and fitness,” Hudson said, and “it’s extremely safe.” If a client doesn’t want to put pressure on an injured knee, for example, a trainer can adjust the machine and save those settings on the client’s profile so it automatically adjusts for every workout.

Hudson described the typical Exercise Coach client as a busy professional, around 55 years old. With two 20 minute sessions a week and minimal sweating, the workouts are designed to fit into a packed calendar, like that of client Pete Waggoner, 52. He started going to the Eden Prairie location on a friend’s recommendation after family members expressed concern for his health, and he lost 59 pounds in one year.

“I couldn’t believe how it worked,” he said. Part of the appeal for him is the assistance from the center’s three coaches.

“They watch out for you, they take care of you,” Waggoner said.

Waggoner was at the Minnetonka location on its opening morning, going through the rotation of fitness machines with a trainer. With a coach over his shoulder, he exerted pressure from his lower body to control a yellow line on the display in front of him, keeping his workout in line with his long-term fitness plan. The guided workout helps people cross the threshold from everyday exertion into muscle activation, Hudson said, which is what “triggers a cascade of hormonal and physical benefits in your body.”

The Exercise Coach’s new location is at 13911 Ridgedale Drive, suite 125, in Minnetonka. The website is exercisecoach.com/minnetonka.

Eden Teller is the multimedia reporter for Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about fostering productive conversations and empowering communities. When she's not reporting, she can be found reading a book, on a hike or tackling home improvement projects.

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