Skip to content
Be seen. Be heard.

MSU Profiles

Minot State grad travels multiple lanes in the fitness industry

Sean Levesque graduated from Minot State with a degree in corporate fitness and physical education in 2000. He never intended to pursue that degree, but MSU physical education professor Terry Eckmann saw his potential and redirected his career.

His MSU training enabled Levesque to pursue a career of serial reinvention in the fitness industry. The Minot native has been a schoolteacher, personal trainer, nutrition coach, corporate fitness specialist, YMCA manager and regional director, entrepreneur, life coach and salesman. He has also served as a master trainer in fitness guru Jillian Michaels’ organization among others. He currently lives and works in the Twin Cities area.

Levesque recently spoke to Connections about his time at Minot State and his career in fitness ...

Looking back, why was Minot State such a good fit for you?

The intimate setting lent itself to developing relationships. The professional relationships can be long lasting and impactful as you develop your career. You have someone to talk to, ask questions of and rely on.

As for relationships, Terry Eckmann was a shaping influence on your career, first through the Trinity Wellness Center in Minot and later as an MSU professor. How did she get you started?

She hired me, a green student who had no experience with training or teaching, and put me in front of groups of people and made me start teaching. Thanks to her, I got started in this career that has lasted 20-plus years now.

Gary Leslie, another physical education professor, was also an important influence on you. How so?

He inspired me. He always had profound things to say that made me think about things in a way I hadn't before.

He pushed his students and believed in them. Some days I did not want to go to class because of the workload. He gave you what you needed to be successful and had high expectations for you.

After almost three decades in the fitness industry, what advice would you give current MSU students?

One of the things I highly recommend is to make yourself as marketable as you possibly can. So many people want to focus on one or two things. That can hold you back from all the opportunities that are out there.

You don’t know what you don’t know when you’re young. Seek as much knowledge as you can. Get certified in many different areas. The network you will develop and the experience you get can be very powerful. I’ve always had three or four jobs over the years — one full time and a handful of other part-time jobs. In fitness, there are so many things you can do.

More than 60 percent of the American population is overweight and obese. Obesity, which plagues 36 percent of the population, adds $147 billion to the nation’s medical bill each year and leads to 120,000 preventable deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How is the fitness industry confronting this issue?

We’re still not anywhere close to making a dent in the obesity epidemic. Less than 3 percent of our population gets the recommended 20 minutes a day of exercise. The only way we’re going to do that is if we’re able to meet people where they are.

The No. 1 and 2 most powerful retention tools in our industry are one-on-one personal training and group exercise live. Virtual programming is a great bridge to get people confident with movement and get them into a gym to develop a relationship with a trainer or group exercise instructor. We’re trying to get people moving their bodies as much as possible. We’re trying to inspire people one class at a time.

WELLBEATS, your current employer, is the world’s leading virtual group fitness provider. It partners with health clubs, military bases, corporations, schools and recreation centers to provide a wide variety of  online exercise classes for members. How does it work?

On any device, at any time, anywhere, you can download our app or go to a website and find one of our classes when you belong to a facility that is offering WELLBEATS.

We have always been looked at as the pioneers in this particular virtual space, and we’re trying to stay in that same place.

Virtual programming is growing like crazy. It’s going to be very difficult to be competitive if you don’t offer virtual fitness in your gym or corporate office.

Describe the range of virtual programs that WELLBEATS offers.

We launched a line of kids programming last summer. We have classes called Purposeful Play for the 3-to-5-year-olds. Generation Fit takes all of our adult programming and (puts) it in a kid-friendly setting. We did a line of classes called Sports Ready, which is sports conditioning to prepare a kid’s body for the field or court.

We have a line of classes for the boomer generation, 45 to 65 year-olds, and a line of classes called Silver and Fit for those 65 and older.

With everything from pre/post natal to senior classes, we’re trying to hit every demographic.

Besides weight management, what other benefits does exercise offer?

We want to exercise regularly because it’s the right thing to do. Our bodies were built to move. It makes you feel better, makes you more creative. You sleep better and have more energy. It can positively impact every area of your life.

You and your wife, Kay, have three children — Conner, 13, Renae, 10, and Caden, 7. How do you get them to exercise?

The most powerful thing we can do as parents is to be good role models. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do that makes the biggest impact on kids.