Kosama co-owner Matt Braet takes part in a recent class at the company’s Clive fitness center.
Kosama co-owner Matt Braet takes part in a recent class at the company’s Clive fitness center.

It doesn't take long for the feet - and every other body part - to get moving at a Kosama workout session. The music cranks up, and pretty soon the class is doing a minute of "froggers" and a minute of "squat jacks," and after a 20-second breather, they've moved on to a combination of "knee touches" and "vertical jumps."

It's a full hour of constant motion and energy, and working out never looked like so much fun. And the next five days' sessions will be completely different.

Kosama's 10-week "total body transformation" course is the brainchild of Matt Braet, Kory Pohlman and Sarah McDougal, who opened their first fitness center on Jan. 4 at 1300 N.W. 100th St. in Clive.

"I think we each have always had a passion for fitness," said Braet, who was a regional vice president with Primerica Inc. before downshifting his financial services career for his new entrepreneurial role. "We were talking one day and we said, 'How fun would it be to do this?'"

Several Kosama students felt the same way. So much so, in fact, that they've bought franchises to open their own locations in Greater Des Moines.

Just three months after opening in Clive, the partners entered into a franchise agreement for an Ankeny location, which opened on April 12. They have since signed two more franchise agreements, one for a West Des Moines center that opens May 24, and one for a downtown location scheduled to launch next month.

"The plan was to go nationwide," Braet said. "We didn't think that four weeks into our first class, people would be asking us, 'How do I get (ownership) in one of these?' They just felt there was a night-and-day difference in what we can provide."

Zack Klatt is among a group of three franchisees who are opening the West Des Moines location.

"We met these guys and decided they had a good thing and we wanted to be a part of it," said Klatt, who was also finishing the 10-week class. "There's something new every day. It's not boring."

Braet said he and his partners are "very close" to signing their first out-of-state franchise agreement. "We have interest from potential owners in Minneapolis, Phoenix, Denver and Omaha," he said.

Kosama's 10-week program is divided into six different workout sessions designed to provide variety and strengthen different parts of the body each day. The workouts include plyometrics, kettlebells, yoga, kickboxing, upper-body strength, lower-body strength and core.

"The really good thing about our program is that you're not overdoing one particular type of exercise, because of the variety from day to day," said Pohlman, who devised the program using his knowledge of strength conditioning.

The business is a more direct route for Pohlman, who has worked as a chiropractor for the past five years, to benefit people's health. "I would tell patient after patient how important it is for them to exercise and to eat right," he said.

"We were all in the people business," said McDougal, who formerly worked as a hair stylist, "but we wanted to get into a kind of people business where it really had an impact on people's lives."

Finding a unique business name with some punch to it that wasn't already copyrighted was difficult. The partners finally decided to combine the first two letters of each of their first names.

Kosama also offers meal planning assistance on its website as part of the 10-week program and for maintenance members. "We had a group of dietitians put this together, so it gives them a tool," McDougal said. "We're teaching people how to eat healthy, to learn what's good and what's not."

Kosama's program combines the best of what people can get from a gym membership and from a personal trainer, McDougal said. "I was always looking for a gym that had all of this; we wanted to provide something that would work for everyone."

Yoga is an important element of the program, she said, and one that's often been overlooked in other fitness programs, particularly for men.

"We have men that couldn't touch their toes when they started the class, and by the end they could," she said. "While that's not important in itself, having that range of motion is important because it keeps you from having injuries."

Braet estimated that about two-thirds of their clients who complete the 10-week course enroll in the 12-month maintenance membership.

"You don't want to quit," Pohlman said. "People go back to their regular gym and they find that the atmosphere just isn't the same, so they're back."

Andrew Von Ahnen, who is better known to radio listeners as "Danger Boy" on KJJY FM, was among a class completing its 10th week of the program last week.

"I love it; I think it's a lot of fun," said Von Ahnen, who said he works out before he goes on the air.

Von Ahnen said he has bulked up his chest and shoulders and trimmed down his waist. "I'm not one of those guys who steps on the scale each day," he said. "I can tell you clothing and my wedding ring is how I can tell the results. Everything is looser."