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St. Paul Athletic Club/Minnesota Swarm Get Fit Challenge

Peter Winberg Wins the First Get Fit Challenge

Peter Winberg, Winner of the Minnesota Swarm/ St. Paul Athletic Club Get Fit Challenge

Winberg, 33, lost about 53 pounds during the three month challenge period. We here at the Minnesota Swarm commend Peter for his outstanding dedication and effort in making this challege successful. We also want to thank all of our Get Fit participants this year.

Peter is walking away with a lifetime membership to the St. Paul Athletic Club, as well as, a Minnesota Swarm prize pack!

Congratulations, Peter!

Peter Winberg

Name: Peter Winberg

Age: 33

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MN

Starting Weight: 230 Pounds

Weight Loss: 53 Pounds

Standings: WINNER

Biography: My career is in residential architecture, and I take great pride in helping people find their dream homes. Before settling into my career I spent some time living in California, enjoying a carefree life consisting of too much fun, skateboarding and snowboarding. I've been married for almost 6 years and we have a long-haired chihuahua named Micki. My current hobbies include making sure my wife is happy, cheering for the hapless Vikings, small "L" libertarianism, golf, cooking and WE Fest. KCCO.

Why you signed up: To get into great shape and to win all the things! Hopefully this program will help show others that anyone has what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle, regardless of gender, color and shape.

Interesting fact about yourself: I once ate fried duck testicles.

Darcy Johnson

Name:  Darcy Johnson

Age: 49

Hometown: St Paul

Starting Weight: 186 Pounds

Weight Loss: 31 Pounds

Standings: RUNNER UP

Biography: I grew up in Minneapolis.  I am now a true St. Paulite.  I work in St. Paul as a property manager and love St. Paul!  I have two adult children that are wonderful people. 

Why you signed up: I come from a family with many health issues.  I want to eliminate current health problems and prevent further health issues.  Also, my 50th birthday is this year.  I want to be healthy, fit and look great on my birthday!

Interesting Fact about yourself: I am involved in dog foster care.  I love dogs and cats and would love to start a refuge for abandoned and abused animals.   

Art Coulson

Name: Art Coulson

Age: 53 (as of 1/14/14)

Hometown: Apple Valley

Starting Weight: 269 Pounds

Weight Loss: 15 Pounds

Standings: 8th Place

Biography: Art Coulson is owner of Redbird Media & Design, a strategic communications consultancy in Apple Valley. He also serves as communications director for Ramsey County government. He has served on the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School Board since 2008. Previously, Art worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for 23 years. Art  plays both modern lacrosse and traditional Cherokee stickball at his home reservation in Okahoma. Art and his wife, Laurie, have two daughters, Katie, a senior at Bemidji State, and Jesse, a high school senior.

Why you signed up: I am tired of the weight and fitness yo-yo. I wanted to work with professional trainers and nutritionists to create a sustainable diet and fitness regimen that would keep me healthy for the rest of my life. I also wanted to set a better example for the native youth that I work with.

Interesting Fact about yourself: Art is the author of “The Creator’s Game: A Story of Baaga’adowe/Lacrosse,” published by Minnesota Historical Society Press in November. He is working on his second children’s book, which should be published in fall 2014.

Cyndi Kesler

Name: Cyndi Kesler

Age: 40

Starting Weight: 277 Pounds

Weight Loss: 29 Pounds

Standings: 4th Place

Hometown:  All over.  I went to all 4 years of High School in Hilbert, WI

Biography: My weight issues began very early in my life... in fact, I cannot remember a time when weight was not an issue for me.  I refuse to let my weight slow me down or close doors for me, though. My weight is what I am, not who I am. The truth is, I’m a single, professional woman that relocated to the Twin Cities after college. Seventeen years later, I still love living here. I’m involved in the community, have built a wonderful group of friends and love my career! My family is the center of my life, providing an unbelievable support system. I am truly blessed to be a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mentor and a friend.

Why you signed up: When I look at myself in the mirror, I see the physical reality of who I am. When I dream, I’m an athlete. During the past 6 months I have tried to change the mental image I have for myself from being an overweight woman simply living her life to being an 'Athlete in Training'.  The Get Fit Challenge is giving me that push to take the plans, ideas and dreams that I have and help me make them a reality.

Interesting Fact about yourself: Growing up in an Air Force family meant that we moved a lot.  By the time I was in high school, I had entered my 10th school.


Brian Ganas

Name: Brian Ganas

Age: 28

Hometown: St Paul

Starting Weight: 250 Pounds

Weight Loss: 28 Pounds

Standings: 3rd Place

Biography: I've lived in Minnesota my whole life, only leaving St. Paul to attend college at St. Cloud State before coming back and settling in. I'm a journalism major with big dreams of becoming the world's greatest novelist, which would probably go a lot faster if I got my thoughts on paper rather than just daydreaming all the time. I live in a house with my dog, and, more importantly, two motorcycles I treat better than family. When I'm not outside enjoying our beautiful Minnesota summers on the lakes and in the woods, I keep busy with good books, fun movies, and recording an incredibly nerdy podcast about a card game.

Why you signed up: It's time for a change. I've struggled with finding my motivation to shed the weight I know  I need to lose, and this competition is the best possible solution. Remaining accountable to the competition, the generous parties who have provided this opportunity, and, most importantly, to myself will give me the drive I need to finally change my lifestyle and my habits. I absolutely can not wait for that morning when I'll wake up in the near future and realize that I just feel better in all aspects of my life.

Interesting fact: I have the most extensive LEGO collection of any late-twenties person I know, and I regularly check the toy aisles to add to my collection.

Meredith Pearson

Name: Meridith Pearson

Age: 25

Hometown: St. Paul, MN

Starting Weight: 246 Pounds

Weight Loss: 18 Pounds

Standings: 7th Place

Biography: I’m a St. Paul girl, born and raised; I love the city and everything it has to offer! Currently, I’m working at Wedding Shoppe, Inc. in the Sales & Support Department, making bride’s dreams come true. Now it’s time for mine! I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, including taking the family dog on walks, eating out and going on new adventures. Through the years I have been known to laugh a lot, make silly faces with sound effects, rock the animal print and generally make the best out of life! Also, I've been seen dancing in a lot at Zumba classes, shaking it to the latest hit, watch out, maybe we’ll bump into each other out there!

Why you signed up: Honestly, I didn't think I would ever get chosen for something like this.  After trying almost every fad diet, and seeing a roller-coaster effect, I needed to do something different. As a fan of weight-loss TV shows, I love watching the challenge the contestants go through. I think that’s exactly what I’m looking for. I love competing, and with this, I want to be a loser (of lbs that is).

Interesting Fact about yourself: Guess what, I can cry like a baby? Not that I’m overly emotional, but like a new born baby! 

Sue Powell

Name:  Sue Powell

Age:  50

Starting Weight: 158 Pounds

Weight Loss: 14 Pounds

Standings: 6th Place

Hometown:  SW Mpls/Edina

Biography: Growing up in Minneapolis and living in the Morningside area of Edina my adult life, I love the lakes and all the area has to offer.  I've been married to my husband Bill for 27 years, and are so proud of our adult children Chase (25) and Kira (20) and fully enjoy their company.    As an educator for 25 years, my current position as an elementary principal is tremendously rewarding and full of firsts, no two days are ever the same.   It is no secret, I believe I have the best job in the world. In regards to physical challenges, I've always enjoyed testing my limits, including marathons, triathlons and traveling.

Why you signed up: As a goal oriented person, I have not been able to reach my goal of understanding the formula for my body to be able to maintain a healthy body weight.  It is a personal frustration and makes me feel like a portion of my life is out of control. I like personal challenges and thought a friendly competition coupled with the expertise of the SPAC will help me reach my goal and teach me how I can live the next 50 years at my goal weight.

Interesting Fact about yourself: I took my kids to live in China when they were in 4th and 9th grade and have set a personal goal to backpack the entire Appalachian Trail over the next 25 years.  Nature and animals nurture my spirit!

Daniel Krier

Name: Daniel Krier

Age: 27

Starting Weight: 266 Pounds

Weight Loss: 24 Pounds

Standings: 5th Place

Hometown: Oakdale, MN

Biography: I currently work as a research chemist at the Minnesota Department of Health in the Public Health Laboratory. I am married to an amazing woman whom I met in college at the University of North Dakota. We live together in Oakdale with our two chugs (chihuahua/pug mix), Annie and Rocky. I like to go to movies, play cards, and spend time with family and friends.

Why you signed up: I signed up for this challenge so I can improve my health for my wife and our future children. I want to be a good role model for for my children and I want to be sure I live far beyond the average life expectancy. Another reason I want to improve my health is because I recently joined the North St. Paul Fire Department and I want to be the best fire fighter I can be.

Interesting Fact about yourself: I have an identical twin brother and we have always flip-flopped on who is more fit. I hope that this challenge will me to set that competition in my favor!

Let's Meet Their Trainers!

Nick Raddatz

Nick Raddatz has been a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine for 5 years, and also carries certifications in TRX and Precision Nutrition.   Nick was a 3 sport athlete for many years and now has been a coach and strength & conditioning coach at the highschool varsity level for the last 5 years as well.  Nick has experience in many different modalities and specializes in sport performance, weight loss, and strength building.  In his spare time, Nick continues to be an avid sports fan, training young athletes, and participating in a variety of sports at a recreational level.

Contact: Nraddatz@thespac.com

Training: Daniel Krier and Sue Powell

Georgene Gray

Georgene Gray has 15 years’ experience as an ACE trained and NETA Certified Personal Trainer.  She is also trained in STOTT PILATES mat and reformer.  She holds certifications in MADD Dog Spinning, Kettlebell, TRX, HIIT, Zumba, Zumba Gold and Aqua Zumba, as well as Silver Sneakers.  Georgene specializes in training people of all ages and with a variety of modalities.  In her free time, she enjoys biking, running, hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking and just about any other outdoor activity.

Contact info: GGray@thespac.com

Training: Darcy Johnson

Mara Ruttger

Mara Ruttger is a recent graduate from Minnesota State University-Moorhead with a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science and minors in Strength and Conditioning and Health and Medical Sciences.  Her training specialty is weight loss, strength building and TRX training, but she also has experience in small group training, boot camps, and circuit training.  Mara participated in fast pitch softball in high school and college and has experience as a youth softball coach.  She enjoys challenging herself outside of the gym by rollerblading, biking, and creating outdoor workouts.  Her passion lies in enabling people to better their lives through health and wellness. 

Contact Info:  MRuttger@thespac.com

Training: Meredith Pearson

Jill Winegar

Jill Winegar, Fitness Director at the Saint Paul Athletic Club, is a ‘teacher’s teacher’ with over 32 years experience in the fitness industry. Jill has been a STOTT PILATES® Instructor Trainer for over a decade, and an international presenter conducting workshops and certification courses in Europe and the US. She most recently was awarded the title of Lead Instructor Trainer for STOTT PILATES®, one of 30 trainers in the world to hold such status. Her resume also includes program development for training of group fitness instructors, personal trainers, Pilates, and Kettlebell instructors and she created and was the lead educator for one of the first ACE accredited training programs for group fitness and personal trainers in the U.S. She enjoys teaching any kind of group fitness classes, and her training area of expertise is injury rehabilitation. Jill trained Sting on his most recent Police tour to the Twin Cities.                                             

Contact Info: Jwinegar@thespac.com

Training: Art Coulson

Elena Jacobsen

Elena Jacobsen, Aquatics Director at SPAC, Has a long rich history in swimming and athletic training. Elena spent many years competing for the Soviet Union Olympic Swim Team and has won many competitions. Her sport naturally took her from competition, to education, and now to coaching and  she has been working with clients for the past 30+ years. She continues to coach a wide range of clients from competition-level athletes to first-time gym members.

Elena holds a Ph.D. in Exercise Education, Masters in Kinesiology, Bachelors in Exercise Science/ Physical Therapy, and is a certified personal trainer though ACE and NASM.
Elena’s real passion is bringing out the absolute best out of every client. Her personal approach to every individual helps to reach her clients goals and their highest potential. Elena specializes in athletic performance, injury rehabilitation, and general fitness regardless the age.

Contact: Ejacobsen@thespac.com

Training: Brian Ganas, Peter  Winberg

St. Paul Athletic Club Information

General Information:  marketing@TheSPAC.com

Weekdays - 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Weekends - 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Saint Paul Athletic Club
340 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN  55101

                                                                    651-291-SPAC (7722)