The dream: To open his own fitness center. The reality: After almost five years, well-known local trainer Mickels will finally be holding a grand opening for Evolution Fitness, 5126 51st Ave. S. Ste. 112, from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19.
“Finally, this year in January, it happened,” Mickels said.
What happened will be known as Evolution Fitness, which is not a franchise and is only located in Fargo at the moment, offering members a wide range of training and equipment, including a full weight room, stair climbers, treadmills, ski machine rowers, even a Jacob’s Ladder cardio machine. The location also features a 12 x 78-foot section of turf with sleds, prowlers, ropes and sand bags. There’s also a small, dry sauna.
“I’m kind of an equipment junkie, I guess,” he said. “I’m very particular about it.”
Mickels is by no means a novice at this. He’s been working in the Fargo-Moorhead area as a personal trainer for a decade, and he’s had a lot of experience in local gyms, including the Schlossman YMCA.
“My dream was always to have my own,” Mickels said, “and once I gained that experience, and learned the market, we slowly started to work on it about five years ago.”
He brings with him a loyal clientele.
Ali Church, a Fargo resident and a competitive body builder, has been training with Mickels for three years.
“I’m so proud of him,” Church said. “This has been his dream as long as I’ve known him.”
It’s fun to be a part of it all, Church said, and she has a lot of respect for Mickels as a person and a trainer.
“He genuinely cares about you,” she said. “He wants you to succeed and is there for you.”
Brandon Fulk, a Moorhead resident who’s been training with Mickels for almost a year, said the staff, equipment, and knowledge base at Evolution Fitness has already made it the talk of the town.
“It’s bar-none the best in town,” Fulk said.
Dumbbells up to 150 pounds are racked Tuesday, Sept. 15, in Evolution Fitness.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Mickels is not alone in other ways, too.
Bethany Abeln, business and marketing manager, is also Mickels’s girlfriend, and while she holds down another job as a graphic designer, her work at Evolution Fitness is a labor of love in every sense of the phrase.
“I’ve seen his passion for this,” Abeln said. “Just seeing how much he loves this, it makes it hard not to want to jump on board.”
She handles “the business side of things,” while Mickels focuses on the fitness side. Month-to-month memberships cost $50. First responder and military discounts are available, as well as a discounted student rate. Members get 24/7 access.
Abeln and Mickels are the sole staff, she said, with independent, sub-contracted trainers coming in to work with clients.
Mickels travels a lot, coaching body builders and athletes, so he was able to check out gyms all over the country in his travels. He was able to try out rare, hard-to-find, and high-end equipment, collecting a “dream list” of items, many of which will now find their way into his Fargo location.
It was on one of those trips when Abeln and Mickels finally decided on the name of the new business.
“We were talking about, in body building, how you literally watch your body evolve,” Mickels said, “and how your life can evolve through fitness. Bethany came up with it.”
There have been a lot of ups and downs on the journey, so far, Mickels said, including finding just the right location.
He settled on the two-floor, 7,500 square-foot location on 51st Avenue South.
“I’ve noticed there are little niches that needed to be filled in the area,” Mickels said.
He’s banking on Evolution Fitness to do just that, and he’s hoping it will grow, offering a clean environment with “the right kind of equipment,” even as the world is in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.
Everything will be sanitized and wiped down on a diligent basis, he said, and the entire facility will get a deep clean and mop twice a day.
“We’re comfortable,” he said.
Project construction began in February, Mickels said, but they didn’t get to move into the new space until June. The coronavirus caused delays.
“We finally got to see it come to fruition,” Mickels said.
At Saturday’s grand opening the public are invited to stop in and try out everything free of charge. There will be food trucks, several local businesses handing out free samples, even the Army and National Guard. It’s part and parcel of Evolution Fitness’s community-based, welcoming atmosphere.
“It’s for anyone who just loves to work out and who’s positive,” Abeln said. “I know as a woman, gyms can be so intimidating. We don’t have that at all. Everyone’s so supportive of one another’s goals.”
5126 51st Ave. S. STE 112, Fargo