Britt Holterman wants to run a gym with heart.

And not just because members get a heart monitor to help track everything from beats per minute to calories burned, stats they follow on big-screen TVs during each workout.

'We're a functional fitness studio, so we don't have treadmills and ellipticals, anything like a big box gym,' explained Holterman, who opened Legacy MKE in January.

Instead of the traditional equipment found in big box gyms, Holterman and lead trainer Kiley Hauch, a former personal trainer with the Wisconsin Athletic Club, rely on a combination of resistance and interval training with a smattering of technology to craft individualized class-based workouts designed to push people physically and socially.

Take those heart monitors, for instance.

'We can see who can be pushed a little harder, who needs a break. We give exercises but we can ramp them up or ramp them down depending on the person,' Holterman said.

That's combined with a focus on community and core strength.

So, instead of just doing a shoulder press — an exercise traditionally done alone on a weight machine, isolating the shoulder muscles and the person doing the exercise — Holterman makes sure shoulder presses are done while standing, which engages the core. The exercise is also done in a group setting — no more than 10 students, but usually more like four or five — which encourages social interaction.

'It's cool to see our members cheering on other members,' Holterman said. 'Sometimes they know each other, sometimes they don't. This morning, we paired two women up and afterward they were talking about their jobs, 'What do you do?' Obviously, you're going to get more in shape. You're going to lose weight. But you're also building relationships.'

Making connections was a big motivator for Holterman.

After returning to Milwaukee after attending the University of Dayton in Ohio, where she studied engineering on a basketball scholarship, Holterman said it was hard to meet other young professionals. A local soccer league helped, but she still felt a void.

She also felt herself shifting professionally.

'I just knew I wasn't super passionate about engineering. I didn't want to sit behind a desk for the rest of my life.'

So, after five years in engineering, Holterman quit her job last October. In January, she opened Legacy, which she runs with Hauch and Jamie Neumann, who handles marketing for the upstart gym.

'My vision for this is what women's soccer club did for me,' Holterman said. 'We want to connect people.'

That includes connecting with the community, which is why Holterman, Hauch and Neumann serve food at the Milwaukee Guest House, which provides shelter for nearly 400 people a year – a mission their members have embraced, as well.

'We're about the whole person,' Holterman said. 'We're gonna work out with these people. We're gonna serve with these people. And, hopefully, we'll go out and have dinner or grab a dinner with these people. It's a cool little community.'


BUSINESS:Legacy Gym MKE, 1504 Underwood Ave.


PHONE:(262) 989-6696

OWNER: Britt Holterman

INCORPORATED: January 2016

TYPE OF BUSINESS: functional fitness studio

PEARLS OF WISDOM:'Obviously, you're going to get more in shape. You're going to lose weight. But you're also building relationships.'

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