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Woodbury man's startup provides free access to gyms, personal trainers

Woodbury resident Nick Boyer, a personal trainer at the Woodbury YMCA, demonstrates exercise techniques at the Y. (Photo by Mike Longaecker)

Nick Boyer doesn't think physical fitness should be limited to those who can afford it.

The Woodbury resident and personal trainer recently launched an organization called Power of Exercise. The concept behind the nonprofit is to provide a gym membership and personal trainer services at no cost.

"I see a need and an opportunity to help people who can't afford it," Boyer said.

The plan, he explained, calls for Power of Exercise to receive nominations for prospective clients through the organization's website.

"I want to know their story," Boyer said.

After that, Boyer and his board of directors will evaluate the candidates and select those based on their answer to the question "How can exercise change your life?" The board also considers physical need, mental or emotional needs, motivation and financial need.

Selected candidates will have all payments and arrangements taken care of at a gym close to where they live or work. From there, participants will take part in twice-weekly workouts with a personal trainer for at least four months.

"It's a commitment," Boyer said.

He said he sees gyms packed after the holidays with people who take a shot at fitness but trail off for various reasons - intimidation of the equipment and ability to pay among them - before they just give up.

"That's where the trainer is going to come in," Boyer said.

After the program is through, Boyer believes participants will have a jump start on healthy lifestyle and the necessary tools they will need to sustain the lifestyle.

Funding for Power of Exercise will come from corporate sponsors, individual donations and fundraisers at special events, like 5K races. YMCAs across the Twin Cities have agreed to take part in the program, he said, adding that he expects to cull prospective clients through vendor fairs, the media and gym partnerships.

The effort is personal to Boyer.

He explained that he went from being a physically fit high school athlete to someone making unhealthy life choices by his early 20s.

Then he found exercise.

"This is one of those things that helped me overcome that," Boyer said.

During that time, he hired a personal trainer to get on track.

"That's what got me over the hump," Boyer said.

As he transitioned back into a healthy lifestyle, he discovered there were more benefits to exercise than just losing weight.

Boyer in 2010 became a personal trainer and witnessed some of those same revelations from his own clients.

"I meet people who want to use exercise to positively impact their lives," he said, recalling a client who just wanted to be able to play with his grandchildren. "It's more than just the way you look."

Nominations for the Power of Exercise program can be made personally or on behalf of someone at