Russ & Kristi O'Connell: total transformation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Russ & Kristi O'Connell: total transformation

by Sunny Layne

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- It seems everywhere we turn, we hear how important physical fitness is.

But do we make it a part of our lives?

One eastern Iowa couple has made fitness a family tradition, and they are hoping to spread it to their many students as well.

Russ and Kristi O'Connell are a couple you should know.

One look at these two in action and you know you wouldn't want to cross them.

But students of fitness teachers Russ and Kristi O'Connell say they are as friendly as they are fierce.

"There's endorphins that you can get that actually make you feel happier," 15-year fitness expert Kristi said. "I call it a legal drug."

At this gym, United Sport and Athlete in Waterloo, the husband and wife team use their O'Connell Xtreme Fitness and kickboxing classes to transform bodies and lives.

"I feel good about helping other people," 6th-degree Tae Kwon Do black belt Russ said. 

In their heart-pounding class, the O'Connell's stress three fundamentals: cardio, resistance, nutrition, and they do it all with a smile.

"The pounds follow the pay."

Construction business owner Tony Vieth says working as an executive has its downsides, like 25 extra pounds.

With a trip to the O'Connell's class, Vieth gained a new passion and lost a few inches.

"Russ is just an exceptional trainer," Vieth said. "He'll show you the same things 100 times which he's glad to do."

"At work, school, maybe they have problems, but they're going to persevere to work through it," Russ said. 

After the fourth set of their 12-week sessions, the O'Connells have doubled their student body.

"This has made me competitive to go 100 percent here and outside in my job and everything," student Lori Beckman said. 

"Kristi will push you to your limit and beyond," student Polly Jacobson said.

"Sometimes I see them walk in with a little dark cloud around them, then 12 weeks later it's gone," Kristi said. "We just love people."

In a time when so many people experience stress, the O'Connell's say your life will transform when you transform your body. 

"That's what I want to instill in their body," Russ said, "that they can do it."

Reporter: Sunny Layne

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