Personal trainer Connor Mandernach works with Total Body Camp student MaryAlice Wright.
Connor Mandernach believes in the power of people.
Connor, of O’Fallon, is a personal trainer at the St. Peters Rec-Plex’s Dynamic Training Center. He’s an early riser who brings passion and energy to a Total Body Program that helps his students reach their physical-fitness goals.
“I believe anybody can do this,” said Connor, 24.
Connor provides the proof. He describes himself as always being “a big kid.” But being big and being fit are two different animals, and these days, Connor is big and fit.
“At one point, I weighed 250 pounds,” Connor said. “Then I dropped all the way down to 195. But I was dealing with some stressful stuff at school and I was working at McDonald’s at the time. I got back up to 245, 255 pounds, and then I fractured my leg. I was like, ‘I’m changing again.’ I’ve cut almost 40 pounds.”
Connor, who stands 6 feet and weighs 205 pounds, has heard similar stories from his students at the DTC. He wants them to get where they want to be, just as he did for himself.
“I’ve always liked to help people; that’s always who I’ve been,” said Connor, whose first class at the DTC begins at 5 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. “I don’t like hearing, ‘Connor, I can’t do this. Connor, I don’t know if I can do this.’ Anybody can do this. I’ve worked with someone in a wheelchair who had cerebral palsy. They couldn’t move (well), but we still worked out for an hour every day.
“We set limits mentally, but we can break those limits. The body can only do so much, yes. But I like to push it.”
One of Connor’s regular students is St. Peters resident Danielle Foster, who has multiple sclerosis and is using Total Body Camp to build strength and combat the symptoms of the disease.
“I want to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can,” Danielle said. “You never know when a flare-up may happen, and the healthier you are and the more muscle tone you have, the better and the shorter those flare-ups can be. If I’m healthy now, it just makes everything better later.”
MaryAlice Wright was attracted to Total Body Camp because of the wide variety of exercises it offers.
“It’s something that’s new to me, and I feel it every time I come in — the next day or that same day,” MaryAlice said. “I enjoy Connor because he’s very positive and motivating. It makes me feel better and it gets me stronger. I’m in my 50s, so this is going to be important for the next 20 years, to help me have my balance. Injuries, as you get older, can be your demise.
“I’m energized when I leave here.”
Total Body Camp focuses on cardio, nutrition and strength in the upper and lower body, in addition to firming up the core. Classes are 45 minutes, and students can work out two or three days a week each month.
“I base a lot of my stuff on weights,” Connor said. “I’m a big weightlifting (advocate), getting stronger with the weights and then trying to get cardio in while lifting weights. I’m trying to make everybody stronger, but cardio (healthier) as well. This is the healthiest thing. It’s going to make you stronger, whether you’re a male or a female."
Connor said exercising is not just physical, but mental. Once people train their minds to bear the workout, results follow.
“I’ve had several people come up and say, ‘Connor, during your class, you’re kicking our butts. We’re getting exhausted, we’re getting fatigued and tired. But when we get to work after your class, we’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It feels like we just drank three cups of coffee. The energy’s there,’” Connor said.