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Her lifelong hobby is her career

Life has taken Kristen Gangl through several states and several careers. But one thread has always been constant: personal fitness and exercise.

Today, many recognize Kristen’s bright eyes and ever-present smile at Snap Fitness in Pequot Lakes, where she is manager, personal trainer and instructor. The Breezy Point woman with a strong faith couldn’t be happier that a lifelong hobby became her career.

“I always thought it would be my dream job,” Kristen said.

Born in California, Kristen grew up and graduated from high school in Idaho. She then attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, majoring in design.

However, after working for about a year in that field in the Twin Cities, Kristen realized it was too sedentary and she didn’t feel like she was making a difference in the world.

“I knew it wasn’t for me when I was laid off and I thought, ‘Oh, good,’” she said with a laugh.

Kristen had moved to Red Wing, where her dad lived, after graduating from college, “trading in the mountains for the lakes” of Minnesota. However, she always wanted to live in a foreign country, so she spent a couple of years in Japan teaching English.

“It was such a good experience,” she said. “I just loved seeing the world, learning another culture, learning a different language.”

She returned to the Twin Cities where she obtained her master’s degree in education/second languages and cultures. She taught in the St. Paul School District for four years, working with the Hmong.

Fitness was always a part of Kristen’s life. She taught swimming lessons as a teen, fitness classes while in college and aerobics classes while living in Japan. She met her husband, Pete, on a bike ride for the American Lung Association.

In 2002, Pete got a job at what is now Landis+Gyr in Pequot Lakes, and the Gangls moved to Breezy Point. The family includes sons Jack, 14, and Luke, 12, as well as a Labradoodle named Chewbacca.

“We used to wonder what people did in these little, tiny towns,” Kristen said. “Now we know. I love living here. It’s so awesome.”

Luckily they chose a house near the Breezy Point Ice Arena. Both boys are involved in the Northern Lakes Youth Hockey Association, which keeps the Gangls running in the winter months.

Kristen finally realized her calling to teach fitness upon moving to the lakes area. She taught classes for five years at the Brainerd Family YMCA and worked at the former Paul Bunyan Fitness in Pequot Lakes. That’s when she got certified to be a personal trainer.

She taught Community Education fitness classes until March 2007, when she joined Snap Fitness.

“I’m super content. I love my job here,” she said, noting collaboration with Hopkins Health and Wellness next door. “I love connecting with all the members and it’s fun to be part of their lives and help them progress and stay healthy.”

Kristen also works as a personal trainer for Hunt Utilities Group in Pine River, and she teaches classes to ladies at Senior Class Care in Pequot Lakes. She enjoys mountain biking in Crosby and takes groups there. Even her Sunday school class at Timberwood Church in Nisswa includes songs and dance.

Her spiritual pursuit is big in her life, and is something Kristen said she didn’t always have. She’s been part of a Bible Study Fellowship in Brainerd for six years.

“I feel like it’s a calling,” she said of her career in fitness, “and it’s a great way to connect with people. And I like to see their lives change for the better. It’s very rewarding. I just know it makes me feel better,” she said of exercise. “It feels like I’m playing, not working.”