CINCINNATI -- She says it was nothing. Or, at the very least, it was a small thing.
"Nothing enlightening -- I was putting on weight so I needed to make changes," said Peggy Edwards, a 58-year-old personal trainer and gym owner from Delhi Township. "Not only did I have to make healthy-body lifestyle changes, I had to make healthy-spiritual lifestyle changes."
She never exercised intentionally until she was in her mid-30s. By that time she had four children and her body was changing, so she joined the YMCA and started taking a resistance class twice a week.
"I was getting healthier and it was fun because I started to get to know the regulars in the class and I felt I was part of a family," she said. "If I didn't show up for a class, everyone wanted to know why. It was great for accountability."
She started teaching classes, and then earned her personal-training certificate. Then, in 2012, it dawned on her: She should open her own gym.
"Instead of training friends and family in small groups, I should own a gym so I could help many, many more people," she said.
But the idea seemed crazy. She had a full-time job as a church administrative assistant. She was a mom. She volunteered, teaching those classes at the Y. Where was the time?
"I was really skeptical," said her husband, Bob. "I kept giving her all the reasons I could think of, that it was a bad idea."
But she prayed, and she kept talking about this as a "calling" -- an idea straight from God.
"The last thing I wanted to do was keep her from realizing her dream," Bob said.
And that led to her opening Training Personally on Boudinot Avenue in Westwood on Jan. 4, 2016.
"I knew my gym would be like no other," she said. "It would be affordable. It would be relational. It would be fun, safe, challenging and the workout would be effective. I knew my gym would be for every shape, size, color, gender, and physical-fitness level."
Training Personally is set up as a class, but there is no specific start time, so patrons arrive when it is convenient for them. They warm up on a piece of cardio equipment, and if it's their first time, they will talk with Peggy about their health, exercise history and physical limitations.
With eight stations -- and two exercises per station -- there is upbeat music playing and a clock set for 40 seconds for the actual exercise and 15 seconds to rest before the next exercise.
"I've got my eye on everyone in the room," Peggy said. "Even the veterans need a form correction now and then, or a suggested working weight change."
And customers say they appreciate it.
"Even though there is a gym-like atmosphere, there is still personal accountability," said Angie McAuliffe, a 48-year-old Delhi resident who has kept Peggy as a personal trainer for eight years. "Peggy makes me accountable. The effects are also evident in my lower resting heart rate, my low blood pressure and low cholesterol numbers."
Now the gym is celebrating one year of business. Adam Schmidt, 34, of Cheviot, has attended since the day it opened.
"I've never been disappointed in a visit," he said. "Peggy is terrific at recognizing each individual's physical inabilities and capabilities, and modifying the workout to allow every person to get the most out of it, no matter their age, weight, medical history, or fitness level. That's what sets Training Personally apart. There is room for everybody."
Suzanne Ellis drives in all the way from Anderson Township to work out at the gym. An avid runner for many years (and a veteran of nine marathons), the 55-year-old had surgery on both feet, making it more difficult to put in long miles. She needed something -- and she found Peggy Edwards.
"I was immediately hooked," Ellis said. "Not only did I watch my body change, but the camaraderie at the gym is phenomenal. Peggy encourages us while watching each and every one of us like a hawk."
The exercise gives Ellis the runner's high she used to experience. She even called the gym her "happy place."
Helping patrons achieve their dreams is helping Peggy reach her own. And she credited her relationship with God for giving her the idea and inspiration.
"Over the years of fitness training, God saw me through a number of hard, life-changing events," she said. "He put me in places and with people who challenged and supported me. I started to grow to have a relationship with my creator and I am still growing and learning to lean on, trust and depend on Him everyday."