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Discover Your Full Potential

Strength Training Benefits Beyond Big Muscles

Article by Sue Baldani

Photography by Andrew Vick

Originally published in Edina Lifestyle

As a college athlete, Maddie Ehrich of St. Louis Park suffered multiple knee injuries and afterward started looking for a great place to gain her strength back in the safest way possible. That place was Discover Strength in Chanhassen. After she recuperated, she became one of the studio’s exercise physiologists and then added on the role of general manager. Today, she is the owner of the Discover Strength franchise in Edina. 

“I've had personal experience being injured, enduring chronic pain and having a goal to get better physical function,” she says. “I’m passionate about helping other people to [reach their goals.]”

Maddie appreciates the uniqueness of Discover Strength. “We offer time with an expert, educated trainer,” she says. “We're not just fitness junkies who get a weekend certificate. We have, at minimum, a bachelor's in exercise science and some of us have our master's as well. We are all certified exercise physiologists, which, simply put, allows us to work with people with medical conditions and injuries.” 

She and her staff also focus on evidence-based training. “We never jump on the latest trend or fad in the industry. We only look at what the scientific research says. So if the research changes, then we change our approach.” 

Another difference that sets Discover Strength apart, says Maddie, is its efficiency. “A lot of gyms want you to come every day and spend a couple of hours there, but we found that busy professionals or busy parents just don't have that kind of time to waste on exercise that doesn’t work. So, at most, what we're going to ask for is twice a week for 30 minutes each time because that is what the research says is needed for the best results.”

Private instruction with an exercise physiologist is offered, as well as small group workouts (up to three clients). Clients don't have to figure out their own group; they just sign up. 

Typically people come in to increase strength and change their body composition by gaining muscle and losing fat, but there are so many more benefits beyond that. 

“We do a lot of educating because while clients may be walking in the door for one thing, they soon realize that there’s something deeper and more important going on here,” says Maddie. “Things like increased mobility and fall prevention, improved cognitive function, increased bone mineral density, reduced cancer-related mortality risk, enhanced metabolic health, and decreased all-cause mortality risk are life-changing effects of this training.”

Strength training also increases mood and self-esteem. “Especially during COVID, we saw mental health goals increase,” she says. “People wanted to feel better or help manage depression or anxiety. About 85 percent of Discover Strength’s client base went online during COVID and we still do about 300 virtual sessions a week. That works great for people who are traveling or stuck at home because they can keep up with their routines.” 

The studio offers many tailored routines for each individual’s needs. There are even special workouts for lower back pain, and each Discover Strength is equipped with a medical-grade low back strengthening machine. “Low back pain can affect 90 percent of people at some point in their lifetime, so we see many clients coming in just for that. Historically, medical professionals have said just rest your back or here's a painkiller, but the best thing to do is actually strengthen those muscles to alleviate some of that pain. We do that in a very therapeutic way.” 

Another popular offering is the BOD POD for clients who are interested in improving body composition and/or just looking for a long-term tracking tool. It only takes about 15 minutes. 

“The BOD POD that we have access to is at our Chanhassen location,” Maddie says. “It's a pod that you sit in and it measures your fat mass and your lean muscle mass through air displacement. The reason that's good is because it gives us exact numbers versus what you see if you step on a scale, which is just going to give you one number. That number can’t tell us, ‘Did your fat mass go up or down? Did your muscle mass go up or down?’ From there our exercise physiologists use the BOD POD results to give you a protein goal and a calorie goal.” 

Even though the Edina location just opened this past fall, clients already number over 250. 

“We greet everyone by name to make it as personalized as possible. Training can be extremely easy and therapeutic or very intense depending on the person and their goals. Our youngest client is eight and our oldest is in their '80s.” 

In addition to starting a new business, Maddie recently got engaged and is busy planning a wedding. She also spends time pursuing her favorite new hobbies – horseback riding and showing horses in jumping competitions. “It's both a great stress reliever and a challenge,” she says. 

To find out more and to sign up for personal training, go to DiscoverStrength.com/Edina.

5041 France Ave S. Suite 1 | 612-836-2345

"We offer time with an expert, educated trainer."

"Our youngest client is eight and our oldest is in their '80s."

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