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A ‘big kids’ playground for adults looking to get fit
Aug. 3, 2015

Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

COKATO, MN – Just north of Cokato on Wright County State Aid Highway 4 is a 20-acre “playground” called Sisu Fitness Training on which Sam Berg is helping adults reach their fitness goals.

Although she acknowledges she is not of Finnish descent, owner Sam Berg adopted the term sisu for her business because “I wanted it to say who I am.”

Sisu is a Finnish term loosely translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

Berg said she has been through a lot in life that has knocked her down, but she has always gotten back up. “That’s how I got the name,” she said.

Berg was a police officer for 15 years; she quit about four years ago after earning her bachelor’s degree.

While a cop, Berg attained her K9 certification, which meant she had to pass a physical test, which required her to run in order to pass.

At the time, she hated running, she said. However, after she started training, she fell in love with it, going so far as to start running barefoot.

While attaining her bachelor’s degree, Berg did a lot of her research in the classes she took on wellness for cops.

Cops can lead unhealthy lifestyles, and end up dying because of it, she noted. Her research was on giving cops incentives to stay healthy, which will make their performance on the street better.

Noting that she struggled with weight issues growing up, Berg said it was putting together everything she has learned about fitness and nutrition that has brought her true happiness.

“Once I applied my own concepts to myself, the weight just came off,” she said.

After Berg attained her bachelor's degree, she worked at Snap Fitness in Delano for about a year as a trainer.

In that year, she built up a pretty good clientele, but was unhappy with the limitations of the fitness chain – she found herself always pulling her clients and equipment outside to work out.

So, Berg started Sisu Fitness Training on the property she bought in 2000, turning her garage into a fitness studio.

The property was a gravel pit until water was hit while digging, creating a 25-foot deep spring-fed pond which she uses for swimming.

Berg has spent the last few years creating fitness equipment on the 20-acre plot of land, using non-traditional fitness equipment to get her clients in shape.

“It’s the best of all worlds – my own brand of fitness training,” Berg said. “This is my own little piece of heaven.”

The first thing Berg does with a client is a wellness consult, going over what the client expects and what is expected of the client.

The client receives a basic fitness test, and is taught the importance of proper nutrition while becoming more fit. The consult usually lasts one-and-one-half to two hours.

Then, the work begins. Berg plans strenuous workouts for her clients that last anywhere from seven to 20 minutes, and clients keep food journals.

The goal for Berg is to help her clients have a better quality of life, she said.

In the fitness studio is a rowing machine, pull-up bars, fitness balls, and kettle bells.

Throughout the property are trails, ropes, walls, cargo nets, monkey bars, hurdles, vetting height vertical bars, parallel bars, boxes, and various other “tools” on which to work out.

From day to day, “clients don’t know what they will be doing, whether it will be swimming, rope climbing, or some other activity,” Berg said.

It is probably one of the hardest workouts most people will encounter, she noted. Her goal is to have clients so fatigued when they leave, there is no way they could attempt one more thing.

“It’s satisfying for them, though,” Berg said. “They leave with a huge sense of accomplishment.”

She also wants workouts to be fun for her clients. “It’s a big kids' playground out there. Everyone is at their own level, and I can adjust workouts to fit that,” she said.

Whether someone is too thin, obese, or has an injury or some other disability, Berg is able to use the equipment she has to create an appropriate workout that will help them reach their goals.

Berg only works one-on-one with clients in order to make sure each one is working at a level appropriate for them.

After six months to a year, Berg again has a consult with her client. “It’s amazing how much a client’s goals change within that time,” she said.

About Sisu Fitness

• A full-body strength and conditioning program.

• A highly qualified female coaching professional to help achieve health and fitness goals.

• Nutritional consultations.

• Time-efficient, productive, thoughtful workouts designed to yield results.

• Variety and opportunities to specialize/focus training.

• Camaraderie and support of a wonderful community of like-minded individuals.

• Private training and individualized program design.

To learn more about Sisu Fitness, visit its Facebook page, or its website at www.sisufitnesstrain.com.

31 Heroes WOD event

Sisu Fitness Training will be participating in the 31 Heroes WOD Sunday, Aug. 9 to honor the 30 passengers and one military dog of the military helicopter Extortion, that was shot down by enemy fire Aug. 6, 2011 during the US-Afghanistan campaign.

The 31 Heroes WOD (workout of the day) is a 31-minute group AMRAP (as many reps as possible), consisting of eight thrusters, six rope climbs, and 11 box jumps. Each participant has a partner. While one partner works on the reps, the other runs 400 meters carrying a sandbag. When the runner returns, the partners switch spots.

To learn more about 31 Heroes visit http://www.31heroes.com/wod/.

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