When you think of the most inspirational person in your life, who comes to mind? Your parents, teacher, pastor, friend, or maybe a celebrity? If you ask Granite Health & Fitness members, many people will point to Kari Bogner and Jenn Thompson as their inspiration, and rightly so!
Sisters, friends, and colleagues, these two have positively impacted the Billings community. Not only by encouraging fitness, but also by creating a safe, fun, welcoming environment for men and women to pursue their goals, challenge themselves, and gain confidence in their newfound health. They lead their exceptional classes with smiles on their faces, great tunes, and challenging workout routines that keep you regularly reaching for the sweat towel and water; and feeling the burn the next day! So, what is it that they do: They ENCOURAGE and LEAD BY EXAMPLE. They are the genuine articles when it comes to integrity and living out their message of health, positivity, goal setting, and goal smashing!
All About Their Inspiration:
Much of their love for fitness comes from their mom, Margaret, who taught Jazzercise for years as the girls were growing up. Margaret says, “From the time the girls were little, they were going to class with me. I remember Kari (at age 2) watching herself in the reflection in the stove, pretending she was teaching the class!” Kari recalls watching their mom bouncing around in the living room learning new routines, and they fondly remember joining her classes while realizing that teaching group fitness was something they could see themselves doing as well. As the girls got older and wanted to work out with their mom, Margaret explains, “we would go to the ‘Jazzercise building’ as we called it, and would take turns teaching a class. Each of us would teach three songs. I think that was some of the toughest workouts because we all tried to outdo each other!” Jenn shared, “I remember someone telling her [Margaret] at the end of a class that it was the best part of their day. I was really intrigued by that even as a young kid, like how could that be the best part of someone’s day? Why were they thanking her for putting them through a tough workout?” Later, when the girls were grown, Margaret started working at the mine and gave up teaching Jazzercise classes. “Then one day, Jenn called and asked if I would just be a sub when needed. And, of course, I agreed.” Margaret says she couldn’t turn down a chance to work with her daughters. “I’ve never regretted it! How many of us get to do something we are truly passionate about, and get to share that passion with your daughters?”
All About Kari:
Growing up in Forsyth, MT, Kari was always active. “I stayed busy playing sports year-round: basketball, volleyball, track, and softball. Once baseball (for brothers Jeremy and Chris) and softball were over in the summer, our family would go to the lake water skiing as often as we could.” Kari and her husband, Bryan, were married in 2006, and after they welcomed their first son into the world in 2008, she decided to stay at home with him, previously working at Montana Orthopedics. She began subbing fitness classes around the community before she got her first scheduled Turbo Kick and Power Pump classes as a certified instructor. Her sister, Jenn, “transferred to Granite first and then I did shortly after, where I’ve been a group fitness instructor for approximately eight years and a personal trainer for two years.” Presently, Kari teaches Body Combat, CXWORX, Tabata, Bootcamp, and aqua aerobics.
With an infectious smile and enthusiasm for exercise, Kari brightens the room and can make a new member, with a supposed aversion or fear of group fitness, leave with a smile. She explains, “I am passionate about inspiring people to live a healthier, happier, fitter life. I love watching people smash their goals and gain more confidence in themselves. I also like to make working out fun! I have made some amazing friendships through teaching and training. We have an amazing gym family, and I feel extremely blessed to work at Granite.” Because family is so important to her, Kari also loves the flexibility of her job; being able to take her two sons, Easton and Treyton, to and from school, and cheering them on at sporting events. Through the Granite Team, and her supportive, active family, Kari has found her place in our community, helping others never to stop pushing themselves on to the next goal.
All About Jenn:
“Kari has been my absolute best friend since junior high. I think I was pretty annoying to her before that,” she joked, before continuing. “I remember writing in a paper [around that time] that I wanted to be a Jazzercise Instructor when I grew up because I just thought my mom was the most amazing person in the world, and that was just the best job ever.” It is really no surprise that Jenn was drawn to fitness, following in her mom’s and big sister’s footsteps. Jenn’s passion for her family and fitness is evident in almost every conversation you have with her. She often jokes or shares a sweet story about her sister, husband, or kids in her classes. She also lives, speaks, and breathes fitness goals.
After high school, Jenn went on to pursue personal and group training, as well as specialized nutritional training. In college, “I found out that I loved getting to share fitness with others, and I loved the dynamic of groups of people and that sense of getting through it together. There is something seriously contagious about energy, and you can feel it when you are in a room full of people working together.”
She has many certifications that more than qualify her for her role as the Program Director at Granite. She also teaches CXWORX, Body Combat, Body Jam, H.E.A.T., Tabata, and leads small group training. Jenn and her husband Nick have been married for thirteen years and have two daughters, Abby and Chloe. They, too, enjoy supporting their children’s many activities and encouraging them in their fitness endeavors.
Jenn is a beast at the gym and will personally partake in any fitness challenge she poses to her classes. She will sweat and work harder than anyone else present. She truly models what she asks of her participants, and it makes people want to rise to the challenge, and keep coming back! “I don’t want going to the gym to be a chore for people. I want it to be the ‘best part of their day’ [and in many cases it is].” Jenn’s positivity and championing spirit motivates class-goers and has affected the Billings community for the better. She adds, “I want to continue to grow in my knowledge of training and behavioral science, and continue to learn how to make fitness a better experience for people, and then really create that experience.” Jenn has made learning a life-long goal, and this remarkable attribute is what makes her an irreplaceable teacher.
This inspiring, family-driven, fitness duo credits their close bond and passion to their supportive parents and hilarious brothers, admitting that their Dad was (and is!) their biggest fan. Their children are all growing up with the same incredible support and example set by their grandparents.
One of Kari, Jenn, and Margaret’s most significant messages is, true health is more than just a number on the scale. They look beyond weight and work on mind/relational/emotional/nutritional, as well as, physical health. As Mother’s Day and summer are quickly approaching, the ladies admitted that women need to give themselves a break sometimes. Managing fitness, not to mention families and careers can be a lot. Jenn encouraged us to “pat ourselves on the back a little more!” Be thankful for each new day and treat it as an opportunity to achieve something great. Most importantly Jenn explained, “If you have a goal, make a plan and go for it. Plan to learn along the way and know that the plan you start with will need to be adjusted… the plan doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should get you into ACTION mode rather than just dreaming about it. You’ll figure out the rest as you go. BUT START TO GO.”
Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s May 2018 issue.
Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here!