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Path for Fulda's Jen Tiesler leads to gym

Fitness director Jen Tiesler stands behind some of the equipment at Vitality Fitness in Fulda. (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)

By Gretchen O'Donnell

FULDA — When Jen Tiesler started out as a personal trainer four years ago, she believed true physical fitness was about far more than just appearance.

It was about having a healthy body, mind and spirit.

“People have the concept that if you want a trainer you have a personal image problem, but to me that’s not what it’s about,” Tiesler said. “It’s about feeling good health-wise in body, soul and spirit, and not that a person has a perfect body.”

Tiesler, the owner of re_Jenerate and manager at Vitality Fitness in Fulda, had more time to focus on fitness five years ago when her youngest child went off to kindergarten.

“When I was a stay-at-home mom, my husband would ask me what I want to do when the kids get bigger, and I’d say, ‘I don’t know. I’m just going to see where God leads me.’

God led her to the gym.

“I had always had an interest in fitness,” she said. “God put things into place where they needed to be. I had no perspective of what to do after my kids went to school. It took me 32 years to figure out what to do with my life!

“But then I entered a body building competition, and Troy Schulze at Empowered Fitness trained me. He urged me to get a certificate, and that’s how I started the adventure of getting my personal training certificate through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.”

Tiesler holds to the philosophy that fitness and good eating can cure a lot of illnesses without having to resort to medications. She has seen this personally through her experience with a very common disease.

“I’ve struggled with asthma since I was 8 years old,” Tiesler said. “When I’m at my fittest, my asthma feels its best. That was a big motivator for me toward fitness.”

Tiesler is now able to guide her own clients toward wellness through her work as a personal trainer at re_Jenerate. Her work is not limited to that of a trainer, however. She also is certified as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and is working toward certification as a Performance Enhancement Specialist. 

“My corrective exercise training means that I can assess clients for muscle imbalances, teaching them what muscles to strengthen and what to stretch,” she explained. “I am not a specialist, but I can spot trouble and help. My certification in Performance Enhancement means I’ll be able to work with athletes to help them be even better at what they do.”

Tiesler began re_Jenerate when she was asked to take on the management of Vitality Fitness when it was built by Dr. T.J. and Dr. Sara Graber at the Fulda Family Chiropractic Clinic. Running the gym and her training business out of the same building has been a good fit.

In addition to all of this, Jen hopes to enter the massage therapy program through Minnesota West this fall.

“God is leading me in all sorts of directions,” said Tiesler. “I have a vision of starting a fitness ministry or maybe getting into corporations to be at their businesses a couple of times a week for fitness training.” 

All these visions aren’t likely to take Tiesler away from Fulda, her lifelong home, where she lives with her husband of 17 years, Don — part-owner of Buffalo Ridge Construction — and their two children — Randi, 14, and Jaxson, 10, both of whom share their mom’s fitness interests. 

It is because of her son’s curiosity about karate that Tiesler dusted off her black belt, earned back when she was 12, and began a Kenpo Karate program for her son and other fourth- and fifth-grade kids. They meet in the basement of the fitness center three days a week after school. 

“My dad taught me karate when I was a kid,” explained Tiesler. “He’s helped refresh my memory to get my skills back where they need to be.” 

Tiesler has tentative plans to expand her karate class offerings this summer, with more classes for more ages. 

Her daughter, too, has benefited from her mother’s tutelage, having been coached on the volleyball court by her mother since the fourth grade. For 16 years off and on, Tiesler has helped coach the girls volleyball program at Fulda High School. She also is a coach for the Murray County Junior Olympic girls’ volleyball team. 

Next fall, when volleyball season rolls around, Jen will face a new role — she is now officially finished as a coach at the high school.

“I’ll miss the girls and getting to know them, but not the chaos of the schedule,” said Tiesler. “I will enjoy being just a mom in the stands.”

Jen’s commitment to her role as mom is evident as she tries very hard to be home by 6 p.m. each day to be with her family. She does have the opportunity, however, to spend time with her extended family during the working day. 

“My grandpa is my oldest client,” Jen smiled. “He’s 83 years old. I have trained people of all ages. Some of them come and get trained and then move on to the gym on their own, and some continue to meet with me once a week or even once a month. I keep my prices affordable because I want to be accessible to regular people.”

Tiesler knows that a lot of what she offers is accountability. 

“Most people don’t work out at home. They have all this equipment, and they never use it.” she said. “I am here to give them accountability and training. 

“I help people regenerate through their mind, body and soul. I incorporate it all, but really, the mind and spirit are the most important. Having a physically fit body is just a bonus. I’m not about going to the doctor to get a pill to fix things. I’m about a lifestyle — not to be a perfect 10, but to be healthy.”