Pro-Motion: Liz Martin is one of the people behind the scenes at Regatta

WORTHINGTON -- This may only be her second year of involvement with the Windsurfing Regatta & Unvarnished Music Festival, but Liz Martin is a pro when it comes to promotion. As a member of the Worthington Okabena Windsurfers Board of Director...

Liz Martin
Liz Martin stands among a stack of buoys along Sailboard Beach in Worthington. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - This may only be her second year of involvement with the Windsurfing Regatta & Unvarnished Music Festival, but Liz Martin is a pro when it comes to promotion. As a member of the Worthington Okabena Windsurfers Board of Directors, she has used her training and skills in public relations to boost the event’s online presence and also serves this year on the festival’s music committee.
“Between the (Regatta) board and the chamber, unless you help with an event like this, you have no idea what goes into it,” she said about all the work that goes on in advance and behind the scenes.
Liz grew up in Mason City, Iowa - a city with a claim to fame as birthplace of Meredith Willson, who created the musical “The Music Man,” the title character being named Harold Hill.
“My great-grandpa’s name was Hill, and he was rumored to be good friends with Meredith Willson, so we always said he was the inspiration for that character,” she shared.
After attending community college in her hometown, Liz spent six months on the road with the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions.
“I joined the circus, basically,” she said with a laugh. “My dad knew a guy whose girlfriend was a rider for the tour. They tend to pick up employees along the road.”
For six months, Liz was a groom for the horses, traveling through Canada, Alaska, the upper West Coast and back across the country to a gig at the Minnesota State Fair.
“After six months, I had tasted a little of the world and realized I wanted to go to school out of state,” Liz explained.
Upon visiting a friend in Virginia, she settled on Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., earning a bachelor’s degree in communications with a focus on advertising and public relations. She worked in Florida for a couple of years, but wanted to get back to Minnesota, where her family had a lake cabin.
“I was living in Wisconsin with my brother and his wife, looking for jobs in Minneapolis, when I found an ad for a manager at Anytime Fitness in Worthington,” she recalled. “I thought Worthington was a Minneapolis suburb, figured it was on the outskirts somewhere.”
On the same day she interviewed with Anytime Fitness, she also interviewed for a position with State Farm in downtown Minneapolis.
“I wasn’t even going to go to the Anytime interview. Working for State Farm in downtown Minneapolis - what could be better than that?” she admitted. “But then I got stuck in 5 o’clock traffic, and I was miserable. I met with the owners of Anytime, and they were great. So I moved to Worthington in July of 2009 and the gym opened in October.”
Coincidentally, her husband-to-be, Adam, a former U.S. Navy serviceman, moved to the area at the same time to work at the Minnesota Soybean Processors plant in Brewster. They met when he came to work out at Anytime Fitness and were married in November 2011.
Most recently, Liz has been employed at Ellenbecker Communications, a Round Lake-based public relations and marketing company specializing in mining and construction trades. But now she is looking to get back into the health and fitness industry.
“I have done three fitness competitions,” she explained. “I started lifting weights in high school, but I wasn’t very athletic, so I didn’t pursue anything in that field. It was more of a hobby for me. But when I was working for Anytime Fitness, I thought, ‘Why not go for it?’”
The most recent competition was May 31, and Liz placed second in her class in the figure category - her best finish to date. She arises daily at 4 a.m. to get in her workout and lost 20 pounds through a combination of diet and exercise in preparation for the most recent event.
“It’s more of a mental goal than anything,” she stressed. “People see the physical results, but it’s a mental challenge day-in, day-out.”
This weekend, Regatta-goers will likely see Martin flexing her muscles by helping with a myriad of tasks on the festival grounds. After being part of selecting this year’s lineup, she is most looking forward to seeing the performers onstage.
“It seems like we have a really good variety that a lot of people will enjoy,” she said. “And you want people to enjoy the fruits of your labor.”
Helping with the WWR-UMF has been a “natural fit” for Martin, and she sees it as a way to give back to the community that she now calls home.
“I never changed my degree, always knew that was what I wanted to do after traveling with the horses and learning what public relations is,” she explained. “It is me. Promoting is  showing a client’s product in the best light possible, and it’s what I do. … We really enjoy Worthington, and if we’re going to be here, I want to be involved.”

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers may be reached at 376-7327.

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