Instructor Gretchen Falck

Gretchen FalckIn the Spring of 2007, I was 43 years old and still deciding what I wanted to do when I grew up.  Fitness has been an interest of mine for most of my life.  Some of my fondest childhood memories are of racing my brothers, riding my bike and roller skating on our newly poured garage floor.  In 1986 I graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in Exercise Studies.  I was on the Women’s Track & Field team where I was a team captain for two years.  My senior year I decided to try soccer and played on the varsity Women’s Soccer team.  One of my work studies jobs was working as a student athletic trainer, treating injuries and wrapping players for their games.

After college I attended St. Thomas University where I got a Masters of Art in Teaching.  I taught science, mostly biology, at Eagan High School for nine years and also coached both track & field and soccer.  I took a few years out of the workforce while staying home with my two children and helping out in their classrooms when they reached school age.  I remained active by playing with my kids, continuing to run and bike and trying various fitness clubs.

In the summer of 2007, I attended a kettlebell class and loved it so much that by the fall I was enrolled in Ron Morris’ Strength for Living Instructor Training Program, which I completed in December of 2007. I opened Forza! in February of 2008 and began teaching classes. Looking for ways to add to my classes and my teaching, I have continued in my studies.

After reading about Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, I looked into what she has called her “secret weapon”,Resistance Stretching.  In the fall of 2008, I completed the Level I training for Ki-Hara Method of Resistance Stretching with Dara’s stretchers, Steve Sierra and Anne Tierney of Innovative Body Solutions.  It has added a flexiblilty component to my workouts that pairs well with what I had been doing. I completed the Level II Ki -Hara training in the Spring of 2009 and the Level III later that year.   Also in the fall of 2009 I completed the RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) Certification program to become an RKC Instructor.  My TRX certification followed shortly after, in January of 2010.  In the spring of 2011, both my husband, Rich, and I were certified in Indian Club Swinging.  Along with the resistance stretching, this adds a rehabilitative element to the training I provide.  Indian Clubs have been around for hundreds of years and among other things is great for building shoulder strength, stability and flexibility.

For most of my life I had been training my mind and body separately.  With my Strength for Living, RKC and Ki-Hara training I’ve learned the disadvantages of doing so.  Looking back on some of my experiences, particularly in track & field, I now see how that lack of connection negatively affected me.  In the first few years of college track, I enjoyed the sheer exhilaration of feeling good in my body, the feel of running fast.  I remember standing in the starting blocks before the start of the 4 x 100 m relay for the NCAA Division III semifinals in front of a fairly large crowd and thinking just how fun this was.  I loved “eating up the stagger” on my opponents.  Success came seemingly without much effort.

Unfortunately, like many people, for me that success started to become the most important thing.  Success suddenly became hard work and elusive.  I’ve always wondered what had happened to my speed.  Why didn’t my body feel the same way when I ran?  I felt heavy, not light.  After 20 years I now know it was because I was focusing my mind on winning races, not on running them.  When the accomplishment became more important than the doing, it was no longer fun.

Today, it doesn’t matter if I can snatch as heavy a kettlebell as someone else, or do as many swings.  I just need to stay tuned in to my body and be willing to push myself and enjoy the experience.  This is not always easy, but to quote Ray Frederick, the coach of a North Carolina jump rope team, “Pain of discipline, pain of regret – take your pick.”  Since I began these new trainings, I feel strong again, light again; I’m feeling at home in my body.

Some of you may be looking to improve your times in running marathons.  Some of you might be simply looking to keep up with your kids or grandkids.  Whatever your goals may be, by training your mind and your body you will be able to accomplish things you’ve only imagined, and you will love how you feel in your body.  My mission with Forza! is to help all those willing to join me on this journey of self-discovery.  I have started down a new path in life and would love to take you along.