Dragseth ready for a new chapter, Vigness excited about the move, and club’s potential

    Jodi Dragseth, owner of JJ’s Bodyshop in downtown Crookston, knew several years ago that when the time came for her to make her final payment on a loan through the City/CHEDA, at that time she’d also be reaching sort of an age milestone in her life.

    “I kind of hate to say it, but I knew I’d be 50 when I paid off the loan,” she said Wednesday while standing behind the counter of her longtime North Main fitness and health club, which she’s sold to the woman who was standing next to her, Christel Vigness, who will be moving her Functionally Fit business from Valley Technology Park to JJ’s location. “I always wondered if, when the time came, I’d be ready for something else, a new chapter,” Dragseth continued. “And it turns out, I am.”

    Crookston Housing & Economic Development (CHEDA) Executive Director Craig Hoiseth, as he does periodically with businesses that have loans through the City of Crookston or CHEDA, checks in with the owners to see how things are going. When he recently touched base with Dragseth, the payoff of her loan was the starting point of their chat.

    “He said, ‘What’s next?’” Dragseth recalled, adding that at that time we wasn’t exactly sure what was next, but acknowledged that she’d been thinking about her future and the future of her business, which opened in 2003, with co-owner Jana Brekken. “Then he asked if I’d be interested in selling, and I said, ‘Oh, yeah, I probably would be.’”

    Hoiseth mentioned Vigness as a potential interested suitor. “I’d thought about her, too, wondering if she might be interested,” Dragseth said. “It just kind of took off from there.”

    Vigness and Dragseth got together in the fall, and both said things proceeded in rather rapid fashion from there.

    Dragseth’s high-profile presence on the local health and fitness scene has roots dating back 21 years with Great Plains Fitness on North Broadway. Four years after she and Brekken opened JJ’s, Brekken stepped aside, and Dragseth has been the sole proprietor since. She owns the whole building, with two occupied apartments upstairs. Christel and her husband, Pete, have purchased the building as part of the transaction.

    Before talking to Hoiseth and Vigness, Dragseth said she briefly toyed with the idea of gutting her club and transforming it into some kind of sports training operation. But with Vigness moving her popular SPIN and BODYPUMP classes from VTP to JJ’s, Dragseth said it’s the perfect marriage of JJ’s Bodyshop continuing on as a trusted, reliable health and fitness club, while also injecting new blood and new life in the form of Vigness’ classes and her dedicated, enthusiastic students.

    As part of the agreement, the JJ’s Bodyshop name will go away and the downtown business will be known as Functionally Fit, at least in the short-term. Vigness said she’s not sold on the name over the long-term and thinks it might be too long in its current form.

    Vigness said by mid-January she hopes to have all of the SPIN bikes and her other Functionally Fit equipment moved downtown, and she will also utilize some space in the basement. The club’s hours will remain as they are now, and full-time staff member Darlyne Hollands will stay on, along with up to seven instructors. Dragseth said she will also be around, teaching various fitness classes, working as a personal trainer, and assisting Vigness when she needs it.    

    Vigness a while back was looking at potentially moving Functionally Fit to the former Four Seasons Clothing location, and also opening a health juice bar, “Juiced” in the space immediately to the north. The scope of that project led to Vigness, as well as Hoiseth looking at other potential options.

    “His big thing was having me expand downtown somewhere,” Vigness said. “He thought that was very important.”

    Vigness is keeping her future options open as she simply tries to get up to speed as the new proprietor of Functionally Fit, downtown. “If some of those other things happen at some point that’s great, but we have to do one thing at a time right now,” she said. “This is my number one dream. Something like Juiced would be another thing added to it. I have big visions of a fitness center, a little reception area, a fireplace, a little deli, good coffee…I’m a big dreamer.”

    For now, Vigness is giving the fitness club a new flash of color with new paint, and new vinyl planked flooring will likely be in place by the summer.

    As Dragseth and Vigness spoke to the Times, various club members came in to exercise, and Dragseth introduced each of them to Vigness. Dragseth previously communicated with her membership about the change in ownership as well.

    “I think my people are excited and Christel’s people are, too,” Dragseth said. “This is going to be a fun, inviting place like it always has been. Christel wants to do good things, while also making some exciting changes.”

    “I’m really excited, too,” Vigness added. “I kind of have a feeling that a lot of people don’t know me, so I want to change that.”

    Dragseth is full of gratitude these days.

    “I just want to say thank you to all the members I’ve had,” she said. “My big thing is…they are a part of my family. I want to express to them how much I’ve appreciated their loyalty and support throughout the years.”