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Over 150 people got their first look inside Firebird Fitness during an Ayr Days open house this past Saturday. The gym is set to open for members at midnight on September 5 and is owned and operated by Cassie Hudson.
Offering 24-hour access for members, the fitness studio has free weights, kettlebells, various weighted balls/slam balls, yoga balls and mats, plus a double sided balance ball.
Several bikes and various elliptical machines will also be available for low impact movement, and to keep your lungs in shape. A Smith Machine will offer four exercises in one, and a squat rack and battle ropes for those who are at least 13 years of age. Minors will need to have a signed waiver on file prior to using any equipment.
Hudson’s love for physical activity started at a young age. She grew up riding her bike next to her mom, who enjoyed a brisk evening speed walk. “Her walk was faster than my jog,” Hudson joked.
When she was around 11 years old, a run on a boring night awakened an unstoppable force within her. “I’ve been into fitness ever since,” shared Hudson.
In high school, she played nearly every sport offered, sometimes playing two sports at a time. She ran cross country and played volleyball in the fall, jumped on to the basketball court in the winter, and then ran spring track and played softball through summer.
After graduating from Corning High School in 2004 and marrying her husband, Matthew, the couple weathered a few health battles together prior to launching two side-by-side businesses. Cassie’s father was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and passed away when their son was only 2 years old. Her father was only 45 when he started to get sick, and Cassie helped take care of her dad at night while studying to be a nurse after High School.
Then the young couple learned Cassie had cervical cancer when she was pregnant with their daughter. She elected to wait until their child was born to start cancer treatments. Her newborn baby was not even 24 hours old when Cassie endured the first of many surgeries. “Matthew did not miss a single appointment,” Cassie recalled, “he never left my side.”
Although the healing process was painful, Cassie did not let her diagnosis slow her down. She thought, “I’m not going to let it stop me, define me, or ruin my plans.” She decided to train for a triathlon, and told her doctor she needed to reschedule a surgery appointment so she could compete in the triathlon. She had surgery the day after the event instead.
Rather than focusing on why did this happen, Cassie challenged herself to answer a different question. “How can I use this experience to help others? There’s a reason I went through this,” Cassie says of her health battle.
Now, she’s ready to help others and share her love of fitness by opening Firebird Fitness just off the square in Mount Ayr.
“I want to stay healthy,” states Cassie. Staying healthy to honor her father is one of the biggest reasons Cassie is excited to open a gym of her own.
Uniquely adorned with a flying phoenix on a Pontiac Firebird hood, the name of the gym embodies Cassie’s unstoppable spirit.
Although she never got the Pontiac Firebird she saved her money for when she was 15, she found the hood in a junk yard and her son painted it for her.
The phoenix symbolizes strength, transformation and renewal in times of doubt and confusion. From the ashes of who we were, can we rise up to become who we’re meant to be.
Hudson is pre-selling memberships next door at MCH Rentals (106 East Madison Street in Mount Ayr), where she keeps regular hours between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monthly membership rates range from $53.50 – for Seniors and active EMTs/Police Officers/Fire fighters, $64.20 for a single membership, $117.70 for couples or guardians and a dependent, and $181.90 for a family of four in the same household. All fees include tax. Daily passes will also be available for $10.70/day (tax included) between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or you can get a 9-visit punch card that earns you a free 10th visit.