When gyms were forced to close during last year’s pandemic lockdowns, workout routines were disrupted, leaving many unsure about how best to continue their healthy, active lifestyles. Improvising, given the circumstances, several Concord community members, who named themselves the Crushers, opted for their heaviest soup cans and the great outdoors to get their fitness fix. Socially distant gatherings at St. John’s Park became part of this group’s regular fitness plan. “For me, it was a nice way for me to get what I wasn’t getting anymore,” crusher Terri Joski-Lang says. “I like the sense of community and it motivates me more to be a part of a group.”
What started as a way to get a good workout in, turned into a community of over 60 women determined to crush their fitness goals. Meeting outdoors three mornings a week—Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays—the group follows workout routines conceptualized and led by Mary Weidner, a certified personal trainer, Life Time run coach and former F45 coach. “I’m having a lot of fun and it is my regular workout too, so it gets me out there and I love to be outside. I am happier when I’m outside,” Weidner says. “Especially in Minnesota, but you can’t take that [good weather] for granted.” Meeting at local parks, the group finds ways to work out rain, snow or shine. Though the weather does not always work in their favor, they improvise. If it’s raining, they will meet at the Rosalind Park Pavilion and work out under the covered picnic area. And in the winter, they found that Pamela Park frequently had shoveled sections of the turf field they could use as a slick-free surface. “We are not shut inside and we are outside living a healthy life,” Weidner says. The only weather exception was if it is less than 10 degrees outside; then they resort to a Facebook live stream.
Graduating from soup cans to real weights, the group now uses a variety of different equipment such as resistance bands, yoga mats and dumbbells. Providing variety with each workout, Weidner develops full-body workouts to target core muscle groups and help build strength.
“There is enough variety that every class is different, and she challenges me to do things that I would not otherwise make myself do,” Joski-Lang says.
In an effort to keep the workouts fun and engaging, Weidner incorporates seasonal themes and implements fitness challenges to spice up the routines. Using holidays to her advantage, she created an Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM) workout where participants would change their movements every minute, developed a stars and stripes workout consisting of either 13 or 50 reps for Flag Day and even hid the workouts in plastic eggs for members to pick at random at Easter. In addition, Weidner encourages the group to partake in monthly challenges (i.e., steps, squats, planks or Edina Park visits) to boost momentum and encourage consistency. “I am just happy to be a part of it, they are inspiring me, just as much as I hope I am inspiring them,” Weidner says.
Though the group started in the Concord neighborhood, the Crushers welcome anyone in the Edina community who wants to stay active.