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Another curve in the road for Curves

Jodi Zeller, left, took over as the owner of Detroit Lakes' Curves for Women on June 1. Former owner Linda Engelman, right, will now retire from her "retirement business."

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "I think that somehow, we learn who we really are, and then live with that decision."

As Curves in Detroit Lakes switches hands, the two professional women making that business deal continue to learn who they really are.

Linda Engelman, a retired college sociology instructor and councilor moved to Detroit Lakes with her husband, Jerry, five years ago.

"And I knew from being a Curves member for many years that it was something I wanted to do - to own it and make it my retirement business," Engelman said.

The fact that owning a Curves fitness center was completely different than teaching sociology didn't stop Engelman, as she pursued her dream, buying the all-women gym.

And while many think of fitness centers as providing a physical benefit, the mental health Engelman provided for many years was also being showcased in her Curves.

"It's all about health either way," said Engelman smiling widely, "The thing about Curves is that it's a community that supports each other both physically and mentally; it's just a very positive, energetic place to be."

Five years passed.

In February, Jodi Zeller, a 25-year banker, injected her own energy into Curves as she took a part-time job teaching Zumba there.

"And I just knew it was time," said Engelman, "She (Zeller) had such a passion for fitness - I knew she was the right one."

"So she looked over at me," said Zeller, "and said, 'Everyone is having such a good time at your class, maybe you should buy this place from me,' and I just stopped and said, 'Are you serious?'"

She was serious.

Zeller, who was once the manager of State Bank and Trust in Audubon and a real estate worker at First Security in Detroit Lakes, quit the banking business to pursue her personal passion.

"I thought hey, I can turn things that I actually enjoy into revenue-generating opportunities," Zeller said.

So she did, and one more hefty professional life was left behind for Curves.

Zeller and her husband, Bruce (of Cormorant Lake), bought the all-women fitness center from the Engelmans (of Floyd Lake) and began planning and training for the June 1 handing-of-the-baton.

"I've been teaching her as much as I can," said Engelman.

"And I think I'll be changing up a few things," said Zeller, "I'll be extending the hours a bit and adding some more classes."

Zeller will still be teaching zumba "because that's where I get my energy," she laughs, "but I also want to cater to the many shift workers we have in the area who work at the hospital or in manufacturing that don't always want to stick around until 5:30 for a class. So I'll add something for them."

The big change, however, will come with a change of location August 1.

Curves is re-locating to the old La De Da building on Washington Avenue.

"It's being remodeled right now, so everything is going to be new and fresh," said the excited new owner.

So while Zeller gets her feet wet with her new business, her predecessor walks away with so much more than she walked in with.

"Owning Curves, I never had to really venture out in Detroit Lakes to make friends," said Engelman, "I had hundreds of them come to me every day."

Now, one of those friends is Zeller, who has promised Engelman a lifetime membership at her old gym.

"So, that's quite a perk!" said Engelman, "And you know, I always believed that you should take something you love, work hard and do well with it, and then hand it over to somebody who can do even better, and I just know she will."