By Kari Kounkel
Something akin to magic is happening at The Rink, a local fitness and event center.
Located south of the interstate in the building that formally housed the Monticello Roller Rink, the business is owned by a local couple, Eddy Ochieng and Alyssa Rhodes. They opened their fitness and event center in 2010.
After marrying Rhodes and starting a family, Ochieng began working locally as a personal trainer. He has coached several soccer teams and eventually offered personal training from his home.
Eventually, Ochieng rented space and created a training and event center. In addition to offering fitness classes and personal training, The Rink has achieved notice as an event center.
Ochieng offers an increasingly popular eight- to 12-week boot camp that runs three nights a week. The hour-long sessions are tough, and they are producing results for a group of local women.
The women are Ochieng’s best advertising, often encouraging family and friends to join them at the intense workout sessions.
Open to men and women, the class is currently comprised of nine women. The women represent a wide-range of age groups and fitness levels.
Meagan Boe, owner of Health It Up!, said her goal is to become more toned over the next six weeks.
“I love, love, love how I feel after I work out,” she said. “I also feel we have such a great group of girls. We keep each other motivated and on track. I don’t ever dread going to The Rink to work out because it’s so fun, and I love how Eddy has the music cranked.”
Ochieng’s boot camp workouts are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Warm-up consists of jogging and sprinting activities. Weighted balls, hurdles, hoops, and weights often litter the floor of the gym, giving attendees a sneak peek at what lies ahead as they arrive for class. Ochieng never spills the beans, though. He reveals the use of each of those items when he’s ready, keeping the participants in a constant state of anticipation.
A 46-year-old woman who has been working with Ochieng as a personal trainer for years says his regimen often pushes her well beyond what she thought she was capable of doing. When she was training for a triathlon, she didn’t want to swim prior to the event. “He said, ‘That’s OK. I will teach you how to breathe.’ And he did. I swam my quarter-mile in 12.34 minutes and checked it off my bucket list.”She continues to attend his boot camps because they’re fun.
Rachel, a mother of four, agrees the camp is worth taking time away from her family. “Eddy’s boot camp is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and for our family,” Rachel said. “It’s not only a physical challenge but a mental journey for me. I have learned so much about myself, gained strength and agility, and realized just what I’m made of.”
Rachel values the relationships she’s made with her classmates.
“We have a great group of women who support each other and have developed great friendships,” she said. “We are all strong, beautiful women and because of boot camp we can see that in ourselves. I’ve experienced many physical changes, and that is so exciting, but it’s the personal development that is priceless.”
Rachel attributes much of her success to Ochieng.
“Because of his excellent coaching and his constant and gentle encouragement, I no longer feel average and will attempt and achieve a healthy, happy, active lifestyle and a bright future,” she said.
Staci Souhan, a first-grade teacher at Pinewood Elementary in Monticello, credits Ochieng with helping to push her to the limit during training.
“Before I started Eddy’s, I don’t think I really knew what it was to be truly fit,” Souhan said. “Fit is not skinny or a diet and it’s not measured as a number on the scale. It’s a feeling and it’s amazing. I love being challenged and pushed, and frankly, Eddy knows I need it and exactly how hard to push. He has taken the time to get to know me as an individual. He has a way of making all of us run faster and work harder than we ever thought possible, but at our own levels.”
Souhan said she appreciates the camaraderie that occurs when training at The Rink.
“I am encouraged, supported, and driven by the amazing group of women that I now consider friends,” she said. “Each one of them inspires me in different ways.”
Souhan said she hopes to carry her passion for health and wellness to others outside the class.
“What I always hope to do is inspire someone else to start their fitness journey and to continue it as a fit lifestyle. Maybe their lives will be changed, too,” Souhan said.
Shannon Fischer said her goal is to become stronger and tone her body.
“At almost 44 years old and healthy, Eddy’s boot camp builds my confidence and accountability,” Fischer said. “We have a tremendous group of ladies who not only support each other, but make the class enjoyable, which is a bonus. I have learned that it’s not about age; you can achieve anything you want with a healthy mind. Eddy is an amazing trainer, and he gives me encouragement to keep pushing.”
Kari Kounkel is a freelance feature writer for the Monticello Times.