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Success Stories


Petra R. – Vernon Hills, IL

I’ve been a member of Life Time Fitness since 2008. During 2008 and the beginning of 2014, I have always struggled with my weight.  I worked out like crazy, but the weight wasn’t coming off.  n January of 2014, my personal trainer said that she talked to the nutritionist and asked if she would be willing to have an education session for her clients. I thought about it and after a good debate with myself I decided to go. So, at the end of January I went to the education session and met the person that has changed my life (Jessica Janik). 

After filling out a questionnaire and having Jessica review and very sympathetically understand my issues, I signed up for the Longevity & Vitality and Food Sensitivity lab assessments. After receiving the results, I was shocked by the results. High cholesterol (good cholesterol almost nonexistent), very low vitamin D levels, hemoglobin A1C high (increased risk of diabetes level), and my estrogen and progesterone levels weren’t in sync. 

From the Food Sensitivity test I learned that I had a list of foods that my body does not like. My first meeting with Jessica after receiving the results was awesome. I went in there all stressed and she said, “Don’t worry about it. It can all be fixed. “ 

She had me do the D.TOX, taught me how to eat the right food and the right amounts, and advised appropriate supplementation. I used to think in order to lose weight you had to eat very little. Boy, was I wrong on that one! To date, I have lost 22 pounds and 9% body fat. I’ve reached my first goal in weight loss, and I’m working on my ultimate goal of an additional 5 pounds. My cholesterol, vitamin D, sex hormones, and hemoglobin A1C levels have all improved.  

When people ask me if I’m still on my diet I say no. I’ve made a lifestyle change, and I feel GREAT!!!!

There are no words to express how thankful I am that Jessica has come into my life.


Rodney H. - University, NC

It had been 11 years and 5 months since my last successful weight loss challenge. Over the years I had tried many weight loss diets. Thinking I could take shortcuts to better health, I was caught up in a cycle of yo-yo dieting. I had been working at Life Time Fitness for almost two years and had witnessed other people making terrific changes in their lives, and I knew it was my time. It was my time to take control of my health and start living a much better quality of life. Besides, how can I work at a company that promotes a health and wellness philosophy at its core and not believe in that philosophy enough to live that lifestyle myself?

I had started the 90-Day Challenge back in the spring but did not see it through. I was focused on losing weight to look better, and that was my driving force. There was something about that reasoning that didn’t feel right with me, and I decided to take a step back, refocus, and determine what was really important. Instead of focusing on looking better, I established healthier goals that would set up long-term success. I knew that once I started living a healthier lifestyle, looking better and fitting into certain clothes would be the byproduct of a greater result, which would be greater health and longevity.

Once I started really thinking about the life I was living and the example I was setting for my children, it became clear that I was going to get my mind right and make the change that would save my life. I started researching and tapping into the resources that were available to me at Life Time Fitness. I determined that no matter what the obstacles, I was going to see it through this time. I refused to give up and fail again. I learned about the nutritional value of food and the right choices to make when it came to fueling my body, mind, and spirit. I learned when to eat, what to eat, and how to eat. I also learned the importance of getting proper rest and learned the importance of having a balanced lifestyle.

I used to think that all you had to do is workout hard and the rest didn’t matter. I quickly learned that a true healthy lifestyle is so much more than getting in a hard workout. I enjoyed seeing the other facets of my life come together during the process as well. Preparing my foods, eating small meals throughout the day, drinking plenty of water, getting proper rest, and working out consistently taught me how to become organized, which permeated throughout other areas of my life as well.

What I did not foresee was being a motivating source for other 90-Day Challenge participants, but that is exactly what happened. Members were coming to me and asking me for nutritional advice and asking me to join in on their workouts. I must say that since I am naturally a giving and caring person, it was a complete joy to help others attain their goals. In doing so, I continued to learn about myself on a totally deeper level than I ever thought possible. I realized what it feels like to not only live that healthy lifestyle, but what effect living that lifestyle can have on others!

Now that the 90-Day Challenge is over, the next step is to continue living this healthy lifestyle because I have now learned that the challenge was just the beginning push that I needed to get on the right path to living the healthy way of life. In many attempts prior, my mindset was geared toward completing the challenge duration and then reverting back to my “normal” habits and patterns. I am so fortunate to have completed this challenge while working at Life Time Fitness because surrounding myself with the right people, and having the tools in place is what made the difference this time. I am going to participate in the spring challenge and continue learning all that I can so not only will I remain healthy and fit for myself, but I can continue being a beacon of hope and motivation for others as well.


Danail S. - Vernon Hills, IL

During the challenge I had an amazing opportunity to work with Jessica Janik-Barker (my Registered Dietitian). I learned very much from her about healthy eating and lifestyle. I stopped eating fast food, breads and sweets. I started to cook for myself. I was eating many more vegetables (organic of course!) Jessica chose the best supplements for me based on my lab results.

Also, I went through the D.TOX Program 2 times during the 90-Day. I love D.TOX because it is a healthy way to get out all the toxins from your body! I found D.TOX to be very easy to follow - not hard at all. After the D.TOX I was feeling like a brand new person, full of energy and with no pain at all.

Jessica and my personal trainer Anthony were motivating me to reach my goals all the time. I stopped drinking alcohol during the 90-Day Challenge, and I plan to continue. Jessica gave me advice on how to incorporate more movement and how to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes such as sauna and massage. She helped me keep a positive outlook on all the changes I was making to be the healthiest version of myself!


Susan W. – Centennial, CO

I’ve spent just about my entire life overweight. Don’t get me wrong. I have always been athletic, playing baseball, softball, swimming, and marching band. In college, I began fencing. I knew about exercise. As soon as I graduated college, I joined Life Time Fitness. I love having a place I can go to anytime I like to burn off some steam. The post work-out hot tub soak is a much loved bonus.

My problem has always been nutrition. When I was 12, I remember thinking how cool it was that I could eat an entire super-sized meal. I was taught that I MUST clean my plate before I could have dessert. Candy was my gift for being good child. By the time I graduated college, I weighed 256 pounds.

The effects of being overweight never really hit me growing up. I come from an area where being overweight is the norm. As I mentioned, I was athletic, so I didn’t really think my weight was holding me back. At least, not until I went to Europe….

Europe doesn’t have a lot of escalators. A lot of the area is also on an incline. When I went with a tour group, I often found myself falling behind because I couldn’t climb the trails or stairs as fast. Climbing the Eiffel Tower left me so out-of-breath, I constantly had to take breaks. We won’t even mention the lack of clothes available in my size.

Since then, I’ve tried several diets. I would lose a little weight, and then plateau. Then I would give up and again eat like I always have. Slowly, I began to try eating healthier. Higher protein, higher fat and carbs. However, my portions were still way too much.

I got control of my portions and also started working out regularly with my trainer, Kristin DeVisscher. I joined the 90-Day Challenge soon after. The combination of all three inspired me to lose over 60 pounds. I learned how to “eyeball” portions using my hand: 3oz meat serving is a fist, peanut butter is a thumb, and so on. This works really well for me since I have never been very good at measuring or writing down every little thing.

I love the strength training plan I am on with Kristin.  Every workout I leave feeling motivated, energized, and stronger. It is great finally having the athletic body to match the athletic mindset. I also participate in Metabolic Coaching to finetune the cardio portion and maximize my body’s ability to burn fat.

I plan to continue working on my portions and hope to lose another 20 pounds. I can’t wait for the journey ahead.



Matt K. - Plymouth, MN 

Sometimes it takes a while for lessons to take hold. That was the case for me. I had been told many times that you can't out-train a bad diet. I tried. I couldn't.

What caused me to finally get the message?

I had mechanical failure for the second year in a row at the Lutsen 99er mountain bike race.

Obviously, there is nothing you can do about your bicycle breaking down. However, because I was so heavy and had to expend so much extra effort to barely make the cutoff times necessary to remain on the course, I had ZERO margin for error. After battling back to the aid station on a rigged up single speed bike, I took the SAG wagon (pickup truck) to the finish line. I was thrown in the back with bikes, boxes and other broken down riders. Watching people finish was hard. It was doubly bitter since I had high hopes of finishing this year. 

After that disappointment, it clicked. If I wanted to continue to race mountain bikes (and by race, I mean participate in mountain bike races) I needed to make a significant change. This was just the most tangible signal of how bad things had gotten with my weight - easy rides and an otherwise sedentary life of a computer programmer tends to mask such things.

So what did I do?

I set a goal: The Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race. I've dubbed it "Operation Leadville."

The primary task was to get my weight from 280 to WAY under 200 pounds (I'm 5'10" tall.) but retain my leg strength and to build up more general strength.

One evening, after the weekly Tuesday night ride at Plymouth Life Time Fitness, we all met up at a local restaurant for dinner. I happened to be seated across from Stephan Roufs, someone whom I had never met. During the course of our conversation, I recounted my Lutsen 99er experience and how I really needed to get a handle on my weight. He told me that he had lost over 100 pounds a couple of years prior and was keeping it off. He offered to mentor me if I wanted to give it a shot. I did.

After 2 months, I was down approximately 40 pounds. During that time I was mountain biking every evening at Elm Creek Single Track (my second home). Pushing the limits of the plan. The first week was rough.... I was way out of my comfort zone as far as eating. For me, it was a major mental exercise, but I decided I needed to trust the plan.

I have a fondness for my original plan since it was the tool I used to get started. I did have to modify it to increase the amount of protein I was taking in, but it got me used to eating small meals frequently and broke my familiarity with Culver's Crispy Chicken sandwich baskets. I'm not kidding... I used to walk into Culver's, and they would put in my order before I made it to the counter. It was bad.

I made a deal with myself when I started the initial program that the purpose was to break the inertia and move forward, but I didn't want that to be my permanent solution. So, after the first 2 months I began to do some research. Here is the thing, I thought I needed to gather a whole lot of new information. But I didn't. I already knew what was going on, and I knew what I needed to do.

Previously, I had worked with Keri Anderson at Life Time Fitness. She had given me the tools already. I just had to put it into practice.

I began to swap out the packets/prepackaged meals with whole foods that fell into the same basic nutrition profile. I upped my protein intake gradually, I still felt like I was behind the curve there with the amount of riding I was doing. The weight continued to come off. I just kept adjusting little by little - being mindful of what I was doing.

I would get asked a lot, "Wow! You must feel amazing!" I couldn't really say that though - at least not right away. Even fairly quick weight loss is a gradual process. Your "normal" changes. For me, I was still very heavy. It will probably seem strange when I say that I "suspected" that I felt better. My knees didn't hurt anymore, nor did my back. My laps at Elm were getting easier and faster, but I didn't have an epiphany until a few months ago.

One evening as I was leaving Life Time Fitness in Plymouth after my Performance Plus Cycle class (a small group, intensive program getting you ready to race) I was doing my usual inventory of "what hurts." Nothing. Nothing hurt. It's such a strange (wonderful) feeling, and it actually took me by surprise. My legs were fatigued, since I had murdered myself in class, but there was no pain. I felt light, I felt more upright. My clothes fit.... I had armpits.... Nothing was rubbing. That last bit might seem like a super bizarre statement, but anyone who has been significantly overweight will understand what I'm saying. I think the best way to describe what I felt is “free.”

I look at things very differently now, particularly things that involve athletic effort. I used to joke saying, "I only run when chased" or "Why run when there are perfectly good bicycles around?". (OK. I still believe that one - I LOVE cycling.) To date I've run 4 5Ks and participated in 2 Life Time Indoor Tris. I'm enrolled in an intensive race preparation training program at Life Time. I participated and finished the Barn Burner in Flagstaff, AZ (40 pounds ago). This year I'm slated to race in 3 Leadville Series races (the Austin Rattler in TX, the Wilmington Whiteface in NY, and the Barn Burner in AZ). I'll be returning to the Lutsen 99er and am considering the Telluride 100. All of them are physically demanding, long distance cross country mountain bike races. I no longer look at them and think, "I'll throw myself into them and see if I can drag myself across the finish line." I fully intend to show very well in my age group. It's exciting.


This kind of thing isn't done alone. I'm a fairly introverted person by nature. I like to do things on my own. But this was a group effort, and some of the people involved probably didn't realize they were a part of it.

I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to Keri Anderson, my trainer at Life Time. She laid the foundation, and I use that knowledge every day. I owe great thanks to Stephan Roufs for getting me re-kickstarted. I needed a plan. He had one, and it worked.

Tiffany Berenberg factors monumentally in this process. She kept me engaged though cycling, which first became my lifeline and is now my passion. I thank Jon Knutson for frequent encouragement and ass kickings.

Thanks to the crew at Erik's Bike Shop in Minnetonka/Ridgedale for being my pit crew, technical advisers and support crew. And to my friends (who I consider family) at Plymouth Life Time Cycle, thank you all for challenging and inspiring me.

So far...

In June of 2014, I weighed 282 pounds. As of today, I weigh 177 pounds. That's what? 105 pounds lost (or 2+ bags of water softener salt.) At this point, I still weigh myself, but weight loss is no longer my primary goal and that feels great. I am stronger than I was then - physically, emotionally and mentally.