SHULLSBURG – It all started on a fluke but both were needed in the community. Peggy Steger and her children, Morgan Steger, Laurel Hartung and Danielle Steger, opened the Shullsburg Health and Fitness Center in October last year, located at 142 E. Water Street in Shullsburg, after looking for office space for Peggy’s home care business, Sentinel Home Care.
“I needed to get my business off of my dining room table,” Peggy joked. “Our realtor suggested we take a look at this place and it really all made sense.”
Peggy started her home care business after retiring from working at the Lafayette Manor for 35 years. She picked up a few hours here and there working at Sinsinawa Mounds. The hours were too sporadic so she asked her daughter Danielle for some help.
Danielle works for the Lafayette County Health Department and got her mother in touch with the Gill family who needed help taking care of a family member. Peggy worked with Bob Gill for about a year and a half before he told her she needed to keep it going.
“I blame Bob,” Peggy joked. “He came to me a week after talking to me about it and asked, ‘so what have you done?’ I told him I thought about it. He said, ‘you better get at it. There are more people besides me that need your help’.”
She started Sentinel Home Care in 2013 and started out with just four employees. She has staffed as high as 17 people depending on the clientele, concentrating on the southern half of Lafayette County.
“That is all the man power I have,” Peggy explained.
Then when the Lafayette County Health Department decided to eliminate the homecare business in 2016, they contracted with Steger to do personal care and everything has seemed to take off from there.
“It is a 24 hour business,” Peggy added.
She is quite proud of the business. Many doctors in the surrounding area are big advocates for Steger’s homecare business and the hospitals in Darlington and Platteville and all of the area hospice businesses promote her business as well.
When it came time to getting out of her house and into a place with more space, their realtor felt the fitness center was a no brainer.
“He said this was the perfect scenario. The homecare and fitness center aspects should all go together,” Peggy stated.
“She has patients that rehab here,” Laurel added. “We have bought specific things for those who need it.”
After acquiring the fitness center, they first needed to do an overhaul on all the old and outdated equipment. One of the first things they added was safety railing all over the building. They updated the treadmills that have safety features and special sit-down elliptical machines that are easier for those with mobility issues to get on and off.
“A lot of the features we added were things that Danielle and I think about because we have been in the medical field for so long,” Peggy said.
They are now working with Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County to be able to allow some of their rehab patients to work at the fitness center after their main therapy is done at the hospital.
“Sometimes people don’t want to drive to Darlington and want to stay in Shullsburg to do their work. It would be a big benefit for the community,” Peggy stated.
“People in the community are glad to have this,” Danielle added.
After opening just under a year and growing the business from 10 members to 80 in just three months, they were approached by researchers from UW-Madison, in collaboration with the ADRC of Lafayette County, who are using the facility to conduct a study to examine the effects of yoga on healthy aging.
The free 12 week, chair yoga class began in June. The research involves an assessment that happened before the class and will follow the end of the three month class, administered by researchers from UW-Madison and will examine measures such as fall risk, activities of daily living, activity level, balance and gait. Participants were assigned to begin the class in mid-June and another 12-week session will begin in mid-September.
“They have 11 or 12 participants in the class from all over the area from Apple Canyon, Cuba City and Darlington,” Danielle informed.
The Stegers were thrilled to have the class and the variety of participants and hope those participants will come back and enjoy the facilities when they are through with the class.
This happy accident has really been great for the Stegers and they have heard nothing but positive feedback from the Shullsburg community.
They offer a variety of classes from a Strength and Stretch Lite Series to a beginner and intermediate yoga class. A personal trainer is also available to help with all those who don’t know where to begin when working out.
They offer month-to-month membership so no one is locked into a certain period of time. Discounts are given to anyone that does a service: nurses, teachers, school staff, firefighters, police officers and there are discounts for veterans. There are single and family payment options. They want to be flexible and do things that are the best for everyone. They are very kid friendly with a corner area for coloring and playing with blocks along with a kids’ basketball hoop downstairs, to help keep every age active.
“The community has been great. They treat it like it was their own, which is huge when we can’t be here all the time. We have never had any issues and if there are, we make sure to list our numbers so people can get a hold of us,” Danielle said.
“The day we walked in here, there has been nothing but positive feedback. Fitness is not just for adults, it is for everyone and we have someone from every age group as a member,” Peggy added.
“Everybody has heard about it and it is totally different from before. We have changed a lot. It needed to happen. It had been here for 12 years and many people didn’t know it was here,” Laurel continued.
On Aug. 10, the fitness center will be sponsoring the Gravity Hill 5K to help promote all the wellness businesses in Shullsburg. More details will be available in the Republican Journal.
“It has been a step by step process. We didn’t know what we were getting into,” Danielle concluded.
Their suggestion box keeps them on their toes but there hasn’t been a conversation where expansion hasn’t been brought up; but that is for a distant future topic.
“I am pretty proud of my home care business and now this one. We basically came here by accident. We never thought we would be doing this. We just jumped in and paddled like hell,” Peggy finished.