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Calling all ladies...: Fitness competitor opens women's gym in Detroit Lakes

April Imholte is the owner of The Iron Shed, a gym for women, which she opened about a month ago. Marie Johnson / Tribune1 / 3
Imholte teaches a number of fitness classes in her new gym. She also has an instructor who will be teaching a Werq class, a dance fitness class based on pop, rock, and hip hop music. The Iron Shed also has some open gym times for women to come get a workout in. Marie Johnson / Tribune2 / 3
The Iron Shed opened just a few weeks ago, and Imholte says the classes have been going really well so far. She wants to stress that all women are welcome, no matter their fitness level or age. Marie Johnson / Tribune3 / 3

April Imholte says her new gym, The Iron Shed, is a place for women of all fitness levels to get in a great workout.

"People can come here whether they're young or old, if they're experienced or have not touched a weight their entire life," she said, stressing that everyone is welcome — as long as they're a woman.

Imholte knows that stepping into a gym, particularly at the beginning of a new health kick, can be intimidating. That's why she decided to open a gym specifically for women. During her own lengthy fitness journey, Imholte started fielding questions from women who were asking about her workouts and her nutrition. She said that's when she realized there are a lot of women out there who want to improve their health, but they aren't sure how.

"Women want to feel better about themselves, but majority of them don't even know how to get started, which is where I was, too," Imholte says, explaining how her passion for health and nutrition turned into competing in national fitness competitions.

Imholte says, originally, the garage that now houses The Iron Shed was just meant to be a home gym. It's located on her property, right across the street from her house.

"It was just a steel shed, dirt floors, no insulation, and we used it to store our pontoon," said Imholte. "As it got closer to being done, it just started turning out really nice, and I was like, 'I want to share this with the community' because...a common thing that people were bringing up was they wanted a space just for women, so I'm really excited to have that to offer them."

The "shed" has numerous machines and workout equipment lining the walls. It's cozy, but roomy enough to guide a decent class size of women through a workout, whether that's one of Imholte's Fat Blaster Circuits, a Booty Builder's Class, an Intro to Weight Training Class, or a Werq Class that Sue Gunwall teaches in the space.

Werq is a dance fitness class that's based on pop, rock, and hip hop music, but Gunwall hopes that doesn't scare anyone away.

"You don't have to be a hip hop dancer...It's a cardio class, and it's easy to learn," she said, adding that people associate it with Zumba.

Imholte says she would also like to work in a Gold Class for women who are seniors, as well as a class specifically to teach teen girls the proper way to lift weights and help them feel more comfortable in the gym.

Imholte schedules open gym times, too, so women can come in and get a workout in, if the class timeframes don't work for them. People can check out The Iron Gym's Facebook page for class times, which are updated monthly.

"Some of the stuff stays consistent, but we'll throw other random evening classes in as it works for my schedule," said Imholte, adding that she also does nutrition and private group training upon request. "Honestly, the workouts are amazing, but you can't ever out work a bad diet."

Imholte runs her gym a little differently than most, as well. She doesn't do memberships. Instead, she sells punch cards, so people can punch in on whatever days work best for them, and they never expire. She also has a drop-in rate as well.

More than anything, though, she says she wants to create an atmosphere where all women feel welcome, and so far women are saying The Iron Shed is hitting that nail on the head.

"I come three times — Monday, Wednesday, Friday — every single week," said one member, Jacqueline Blahut. "It's been amazing. It's uplifting. It's just the most powerful gym. You come in here with so many different women. We're all different levels, and yet we can make it work."