A single 43-year-old mother with a dream of becoming a bodybuilding champion accomplished it last week, and now she's helping inspire others to get in shape in Plymouth, Minn.
Her Saturday morning class at “Orange Theory Fitness” is legendary for its popularity. She's tough on her clients because she's been tough on herself. Kristi Gess will push, boss, and even threaten – but the people in her class can't get enough.
“She picks on me on a regular basis and I absolutely love it,” Jesse Montgomery, who attends the class, said.
“I always want to push people farther than they think they can,” Gess said.
Gess knows that feeling first-hand. Last week, she won one of the country's major bodybuilding competitions even though she’s a 43-year-old single mother of two working full time.
Some of the people in her class class not only traveled to Missouri for the competition, but helped her raise money to attend.
“Just knowing there was all that love and support and everyone was cheering me on, it was just so encouraging, felt amazing,” Gess said.
It's why Gess, who lived on only broccoli and chicken for months, can get away with telling her class what she did after she won.
“Eat nachos, have a margarita, and go get a tattoo,” she said. “That sounds about right.”
Working out with Gess is learning how to work out the challenges in her gym, and the even greater ones outside.
“The big thing I've learned is you really can do anything,” she said. “If you decide you're going to do it, you can do it. I think people are stronger inside than they give themselves credit for. I see it here all the time.”
Gess is hoping to publish a book on the challenges of becoming a professional body builder while a 43-year-old single mother. The title is going to be "Moms with Muscles."