A (re)introduction: the past, present, and future of Rise

Whether you’ve known us for five minutes or five years, here’s the backstory on where we came from and where we’re headed.

Chase Morlock

Welcome to the first-ever Rise Training and Fitness blog post!

First and foremost – to all of our members, past and present, thank you all for your support over the years. I speak for the whole Rise team when I say that it is our honor to serve you each day and to be part of your lives. Our mission is to deliver you the best fitness experience by improving your health & longevity through accountability, excellent customer service, and the expertise necessary to get you to your goals, injury free. In simpler terms, we are here to help you take control of your health with fitness and nutrition so you can go be your best at home, in the community, at work, and in all the things you do that are important to you.

I want to kick off this first post by sharing a little bit about Rise’s story – where we came from, where we’re headed, and maybe a few other tidbits you didn’t know about us.

The Past

In August of 2015, my dad, Paul Morlock, was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer and passed away from it a little over a year later in October of 2016. I was playing football at NDSU at the time, and once the season and semester finished up, I decided it was time to move back home to help my mom handle this incredibly hard time (and who am I kidding – I needed her to help me through it equally as much). I didn’t realize it in the moment, but this was such precious time spent with my mom, getting to know her in a whole new way and bonding as we worked through this difficult adjustment together.

My late father, Paul.

I had moved all of my gym equipment I’d acquired over the years into the third stall of her garage and created a small home gym, which was just meant for myself at the time. I had a few more months to finish up school and my college sports career was now done, so I simply wanted a way to stay in shape until I found my next “thing” to compete in (it’s hard to turn off the competitive spirit).

One of my best friends from high school, Aaron Lien, who was an MSUM basketball player, had finished his basketball career the same year I finished football. Aaron was a true friend as I dealt with losing my dad. He was always there for me in lots of ways, including being my go-to competition partner. Together we decided we were going to train to become professional sand volleyball players to fill the competitive edge we both still had. We started training in the home gym I’d made in my mom’s garage, and even went out to California to take some lessons from a professional sand player. Back home, we got our butts whooped in a few tournaments over the summer. We were humbled to say the least.

In the midst of all of this, my mom asked if I would train her. She witnessed firsthand what had happened to my dad, and she was motivated to make some big changes in her own life. My dad was an amazing man, but it was no secret that he wasn’t doing the best he could to take care of his body. He was overweight, stressed, eating poorly, not drinking enough water, drinking too much alcohol, and not working out. This list covers basically every precursor for illness.

My brother, Brett, and mom, Jean.

Looking back, it’s easy to feel frustrated as I was studying exercise science during this time. However, I didn’t yet have the skills, or to be quite honest, the maturity, to realize my dad needed to make some big changes. But knowing what I know now about fitness and nutrition, and learning from the lessons of my dad’s life, I realized shortly after his passing that I had a real chance to help other people. Unfortunately, my dad was not a rare case. Many people struggle with the things he struggled with. So Aaron and I got to chatting and started dreaming up an idea of creating our own gym. Just a few weeks later, Rise Training and Fitness LLC was created and Aaron and I began our business career together. 

I am so grateful for all of those who trusted us to help them, especially in those early years. My mom was our very first Rise member and still works out with us multiple times a week. I’m grateful for the sacrifices my mom made for us to be able to pursue our dreams out of her garage (loud 5:00am workout sessions below your bedroom aren’t exactly desirable for someone who prefers to sleep in), and I’m so proud of her for transforming her lifestyle and habits over the course of the last 6 years.

Our first location – my mom’s garage.

About eight months after we started Rise, we decided it was time to find a more viable facility. We took a leap of faith and signed a lease for our second location – a warehouse-style building located in Moorhead’s industrial park not far from where we are today. We faced many business challenges early on, including being slapped in the face with the Covid-19 Pandemic in just our second year of operations. That building was sold in year three, forcing us to find a new location on short notice.

Turf installation at our second location in January 2019.

In Fall 2021, we started working with a construction company that had plans for putting up the facility that we are currently in. This allowed us the opportunity to customize the floorplan layout – training space, offices, bathrooms, and showers. When construction wrapped up in April 2022, we took a three day break from training to transition equipment into the new facility.

Our current facility after transitioning equipment in April 2022.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe we are still here with all the adversity we faced. But it’s easy to keep going when we get to serve such amazing people every day. I feel very blessed to have such a great friend in Aaron who stuck it out in the hardest of times, my wife who’s had to sacrifice so much to help keep this place going, my mom for all she does for Rise, and all of my coaches who are truly incredible. It’s not easy to show up to work at 4am fired up and ready to go, and they always do. I couldn’t ask for a better team. And to all the coaches who have moved on to new chapters in life – Tim, Devin, Haley, Erik, and Sara, you’ll always be part of the Rise family!

The Future

So that’s where we’ve been. Where are we headed? It’s pretty simple, really. We are here to stay, with the continued mission to serve anyone who walks through our doors, and to help them achieve their goals. We pride ourselves on having the tools needed to get each of our members strong and healthy so they can go be their best. Our team is committed to going above and beyond while we’re on the gym floor, but also behind the scenes: learning, researching, meeting as a team, and constantly improving upon our services for our members so we can help you succeed. 

That’s the whole reason Rise is here. We want all of our members to be able to enjoy their lives with the strength needed to stay healthy for a long time. Although I miss my dad dearly every day, I don’t think Rise would exist without his story. Out of his tragic, painful, and difficult battle with cancer, a small home gym was born that turned into a real business – a business that has already impacted hundreds of lives. I wish more than anything that my dad could be here to see Rise and make all of you laugh during workouts together, but I find a lot of peace in knowing that his spirit is still very much alive and continues to motivate my work every day. 

As we head into 2024, here’s to celebrating where we’ve all been, where we’re all headed, and remembering the people in our lives who have helped write our stories. And if they’re still around – give ‘em a phone call and tell them how much you love them!

Our team looks forward to sharing many more blog posts with you to share fitness knowledge, nutrition tips, and so much more.

Thanks for reading along!

Coach Chase