To hear fitness-studio owner and holistic health coach Barbara Server tell it, every person's transformation story has their telltale moment, that instant in which they decide — finally — to change.

"Any transformation, whether it's physical, psychological, financial or spiritual, begins with you," said Server, 55, of Prior Lake. "You are the only one who has the control to say yes, and sometimes no, to make these changes."

Server remembers her moment in vivid detail. It was Feb. 4, 2008. She was living in Duluth and working as a hairstylist. She was badly out of shape, her body toxic, she said. She felt horrible and unhealthy. She was overweight, had little energy and was often stressed out. Genuine happiness, she said, seemed elusive.

"It was a very dark time in my life," said Server. "I remember getting up that morning and opening my eyes widely and thinking I have to change now. And I did."

Today, through a regimen of exercise, proper nutrition and a little tender loving care, Server is helping others, particularly women, transform their lives. Not only did Server transform her body and mind-set, she also changed cities and jobs and has passed on what's she learned about fitness and nutrition to numerous clients, friends and family. On Friday, Server will marry "my best friend," whom she met four years ago.

"I feel incredibly fortunate," said Server, in reference to her "new" life. "I have a wonderful fiancé and without him I would not have this amazing life. He drives me and inspires me everyday to be and do my best. We make a great team."

When in 2008 Server had her transformation moment, she had already been working out with a personal trainer. But that approach alone didn't produce results. "I wasn't getting anywhere. Nothing in my body or my life was changing," she said. "I saw my mother gaining more and more weight and becoming more and more unhealthy. It's scared me, because that's what I was becoming."

Server took matters into her own hands. A friend gave her a book, "Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength," by Bill Phillips. She read it, was inspired by it, and followed it dutifully. She also taught herself how to "eat clean," which, she says, means "removing processed pre-packed sugars and anything white and limiting your dairy" from your diet. The combination of an exercise program and eating healthy (five or six small meals per day of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, "good fats," as well as fruits and vegetables), day in and day out, changed her body and mind. Fat melted off her frame and turned to lean muscle and eventually a chiseled physique. Positive thoughts flowed. Her energy came back, as did her confidence. Buoyed by her changes, she became a certified group exercise trainer and eventually a holistic health coach. Her hair clients even started to notice her transformation.

"I was getting a lot of positive affirmation, and that just motivated me more," she said. "I began to think I could be doing something different with my life, professionally."

In 2009, Server started Lifestyles with Barb, a nutrition and exercise consulting business. She rented office space at her hair salon in Duluth. "My clients kept asking me, 'Can you help me do that, too?' " said Server. "So every day I was either behind the chair cutting hair or in another room doing private lifestyle consultations."

In 2010, she became an executive with Isagenix International, a health and wellness company. In 2011, she moved to the Twin Cities, growing her client base and eventually partnering with her fiancé, Randy Busch, in the Isagenix business. In September, Server opened W SocialFIT in Prior Lake, a fitness studio exclusively for women.

"W SocialFIT is a medically driven concept that allows our bodies to get an effective workout through balance, cardio, strength and stretch," said Server, noting her studio's circuit training system reduces fat and builds lean muscle. "The reason we developed this system is because women need and deserve a place to get away from dishes, cooking, kids, laundry, the hubby and everyday stresses that take away from focusing on us and who we are as women," said Server. "We teach that this approach isn't selfish … because women tend to take care of everyone else before themselves."

Her studio, she said, is a "no-judgment zone." "You come as you are and love yourself right where you're at in life," she said. "I'm there to help you learn, grow and build on your successes."

Server says she's a living testament that anyone can transform their lives. It's never too late. "I feel so blessed to have a job and a life that revolves around helping people change their lives for the better — there's nothing better than that," said Server, adding her religious faith is "big" part of her life and transformation story. "I love to help empower women and tell them they deserve a better life."

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Tori McCormick is a freelance writer living in Prior Lake: