Ways to Wellness open house When: 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday Where: Woodwinds Oak Center, 1825 Woodwinds Drive, Woodbury Information: 651-232-1926 or

Personal fitness a la carte style

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW
  • Star Tribune
  • June 18, 2011 - 11:20 PM

Sweat dripped down Darcy Koch's face as she stepped on and off a small table 30 times, squatting, twisting and lifting a 12-pound ball high over head.

"This is hard," she said.

That made Stephanie Skeba smile.

"I love the sweat," said Skeba, Koch's personal trainer at Woodwinds Hospital's Ways to Wellness in Woodbury.

Ways to Wellness is an a la carte program that allows customers such as Koch to identify wellness goals and work with a certified nutrition and fitness specialist to customize a plan to reach them. Unlike a typical health club, there is no membership fee. Patrons pick the services they want from the menu of choices and pay for them out of their own pocket.

"The people who come here are pretty serious about it," said Brenda Navin, a certified coach and trainer who founded Ways to Wellness. "It's not a cookie-cutter approach. This is the way health care is going. It's the right thing to do to take care of the whole person."

The center has served more than 1,200 people in the five years it has offered one-on-one coaching and group fitness courses to clients looking to lose weight, improve their diet, increase strength and conditioning, control stress or make behavioral or lifestyle changes.

It now has room for more.

Ways to Wellness recently moved from a cramped 1,500-square-foot space into a former day care center in the Woodwinds Oak Center. The center now has 7,000 square feet for its programs, and it will showcase them during an open house from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at 1825 Woodwinds Drive.

With the motto "Want it. Achieve it. Live it," the center offers group fitness lessons for $99 for three months. It also offers private or semi-private Pilates classes that run from $199 to $225 for five lessons up to $499 for 12. And it offers health and wellness coaching packages that range from $210 to $480, and an individual wellness program that includes two wellness assessments and six follow-up sessions for $549. It also offers a 60-day challenge that includes a nutrition and fitness evaluation, 16 personal training sessions and eight group fitness classes to choose from for $649.

Navin said most of her clients are women, but an increasing number of men are finding their way to Ways to Wellness. Her team of seven certified trainers and nutrition and fitness specialists will help direct people to appropriate programs, or team them up with a trainer for private lessons.

"A lot of times you just don't know what you need," Navin said, "or group fitness courses might just be too intimidating." At a health club, "you might just stand in the back. Here, you don't have to be embarrassed."

Training does come with a price, and it can be expensive since those who opt for Ways to Wellness are in most cases paying above and beyond any premiums paid for insurance or employee-sponsored health care they may have. But Koch said the $99 she shelled out for her three-month group fitness course has been well worth it.

"I've lost 15 pounds," said Koch, whose goal was to increase strength and endurance. "I have more endurance. I am able to get through my runs easier."

Tim Harlow • 651-735-1824

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