Danielle Peiffer understands that working out can be intimidating.
It can be especially difficult for women who have scheduling issues and other reasons for not working out, particularly in front of other people.
With that in mind, Peiffer helped start Be3, an organization dedicated to empowering women through fitness, philanthropy and personal growth.
Be3, which stands for “Be there, Be strong, Be fearless,” was born to help women overcome the stigma of working out and find support through other members.
“We’re trying to communicate empowerment,” Peiffer, a mother of three, said. “Our goal is to be a resource for women in the community to improve their lives and the lives of others.”
Every week, Be3 committee members e-mail a schedule of workouts, held at ZuZu Pedals in Port Washington, that alternate between cycling, yoga and running. Members who can’t make the classes are encouraged to stay active on their own.
A group of five women, including Peiffer, lead the workouts and an 11-woman committee helps organize other events to make Be3 more than just another fitness group.
“You don’t have to participate in any of the workouts to belong,” Peiffer said. “It’s more of the notion of finding a desire to incorporate health and fitness into your life in some capacity.”
Peiffer’s inspiration for keeping in shape is a lifelong enjoyment of sports. She was on the gymnastics team in high school and decided after college that sports could still help her.
“Even though I knew I wasn’t going to be doing organized sports any more, I realized you still need to set goals and challenge yourself,” she said.
That dedication has paid off. Peiffer won her age division in the Ironman Wisconsin triathlon in September and also placed fourth in the Door County Half Marathon.
While she is modest in talking about her accomplishments, Peiffer is more than willing to share her fitness dedication with other group members.
Tammy Thompson-Oreskovic, a Be3 member and owner of ZuZu Pedals, said the partnership with Peiffer and the rest of the group has been “a perfect fit.”
“We both had the same vision for some of the space in the store,” Thompson-Oreskovic, who is also on the group’s organizing committee, said. “Fitness sometimes has this stigma that you have to be really great or just forget it.
“If you have the desire, you can do it.”
The group has partnered with Advocates of Ozaukee County, an agency that works to end domestic and sexual violence, and has held several fundraising events for the group since forming in January.
“We have several social workers in the group, and it was just a no-brainer,” Peiffer said. “We may never meet the women we’re supporting, but it’s something people in the group feel passionate about.”
The group is also planning the second annual Land Regatta Run/Walk at Coal Dock Park during Maritime Heritage Festival in August.
Proceeds from the four and two-mile races will support an outdoor fitness course in Upper Lake Park in Port Washington.
Many of the group’s 90 members are from Port Washington, but some live as far away as Minnesota. Members range in age from 24 to 63.
Although the group is dedicated to women, men are encouraged to participate in the daily workouts, Peiffer said.
“Where we are different is we’re led by women and women lead our workouts,” she said. “We have quite a few spouses who join us, and I think that’s great.”
Some members are using the group to help train for events like triathlons and other fitness competitions, while some, like Christina Brickner, are simply thankful for the supportive environment.
“You don’t feel pressure to perform,” Brickner said. “The leaders are all moms like me who find time to take care of themselves.
“That’s inspiring to me.”
Brickner, who is actively involved in the Land Regatta, is not alone in trying to find time to balance her life while staying in shape.
What sets Be3 apart, she said, are the leaders who work to help all members succeed.
Peiffer agreed, saying it’s just as important to have members who work out for 20 minutes a day as it is those who do it two hours a day.
“It’s neat to have all different personalities in the room,” she said. “The group welcomes people who are new to working out or just need the extra push to keep going.”
She said new members are partnered with more experienced members who answer questions and support them.
This Thursday, the group will hold a “Wine and Dine” event at Baltica Tea Room in Port Washington to benefit Advocates.
Other upcoming fundraising events include a blood drive and fashion show at ZuZu Pedals next month, a beer garden in September and a “Wheels and Heels” night in November.
Beyond staying in shape, it’s the philanthropic efforts that have impressed Brickner about Be3.
“As a member of the Jaycees, I know it can be difficult to get new members,” she said. “When you see how passionate the women on the organizing committee are, it’s something you want to be behind.”
For more information on Be3, visit www.be3wi.com.
Image information: BE3 CLUB MEMBERS, including (center front) Tammy Thompson-Oreskova, owner of ZuZu Pedals, and club founder Danielle Peiffer, train every day at ZuZu Pedals in Port Washington, and last Saturday was no different. The training sessions typically alternate between biking, running and yoga. Photo by Sam Arendt