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STRONG WOMAN: Local gym manager inspires others with her journey of strength, gift for leadership

by Lynn Williams, contributing writer | July 31, 2023 at 10:00 p.m.

Commitment to lifting heavy can yield amazing results when it comes to strength building and reshaping one's physique. Monica Beeman's awe-inspiring body transformation is a case in point for getting strong through disciplined training. But Monica's strengths go far beyond her ability to bench press 195lbs.

Monica is one of those magnetic people, and hers is often the first face to see when entering Cass County Fitness, a locally owned and operated community gym in Atlanta, Texas. Her bright, genuine smile and welcoming energy create a space where others want to be, and her knack for giving others the perfect amount of push or nudging has helped many to set and meet goals.

Monica is laser-sharp when it comes to marketing and management. Her abilities to see and size up new opportunities, engage others, think outside the box, and lean into her competitive nature make Monica a powerhouse with a professional track record that speaks for itself.

Growing up in Arizona, Monica loved sports and was intrigued by physical fitness from an early age.

"I remember at the age of 6 being enthralled with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I had his posters on my wall and wanted to be a bodybuilder like him. I was fascinated with the idea of the "gym" culture. Of course, at the time, I didn't fully understand what that meant. I just knew I liked muscles and wanted them."

Monica's interest in bodybuilding and competition only grew throughout her teen years. She was encouraged by her parents to stay active all the time, something she credits toward being a well-rounded athlete. In addition to weightlifting, sports like soccer, racquetball and skateboarding shaped Monica into a fast, agile and strong athlete who stood out from the competition.

When her family moved to Jacksonville, Florida, her senior year, Monica flourished in the new setting. The beach was good for her soul, and she still thinks of Jacksonville as home.

Monica earned a spot on the All-State Volleyball team and a nomination for the Jacksonville Sports Hall of Fame. The athlete received a full volleyball scholarship to the University of North Florida.

Monica married right after graduating and headed to California where her husband was stationed in the Navy. After his service was complete, another move back to his hometown brought Monica to Atlanta.

"I had never lived in a small town like Atlanta, so it took me a few years to get on board with country life," she said.

A self-admitted workaholic, Monica could not let the small-town pace slow her down. For several years she channeled her energy into personal training and excelled at marketing for big brands like Chick-fil-A.

In 2014 she took a new step and launched her own marketing business called Simply Perfect Marketing, and through this company she represented many businesses and brands and facilitated successful events including fitness industry and holiday shopping expos.

It was 2020 when Monica was presented with an exciting new opportunity as well as a major heartbreak.

Monica explains, "Out of the blue Eric Lummus called me and asked me to be the marketing director for his new gym called Cass County Fitness in Atlanta. I was intrigued, and because my husband, Doug Beeman, was the GM (General Manager) of Gold's Gym Express in Texarkana, I knew the fitness industry."

While talking with Eric and realizing he had not yet hired a GM, Monica took her shot. "I decided to go for it and just tell him that I wanted to be his GM. He said yes before I could even get the question out of my mouth! The rest is history, and I have found my job to be rewarding in every sense of the word."

Monica had landed her dream job when she least expected it. What should have been a joy-filled day soon delivered a heavy blow.

"My stepfather, Glenn Carlson, passed away from a heart attack on the same day. ... I never got the chance to tell my Bonus Dad about finally fulfilling my dream of running a gym. He knew how much I loved sports and weight training. He would have been so proud of me!"

Monica and Eric got to work preparing to open the new fitness center and promote member enrollment. "I am so grateful to Eric for taking a chance on me and for the Atlanta and Cass County residents for taking a chance on me and the new gym in town," she said.



Cass County Fitness has an official catch phrase, "Challenge Accepted." As GM, Monica has embraced the concept along with the gym's hundreds of members, and this simple slogan served as a catalyst that launched Monica on another new journey.

"I had gained a significant amount of weight from years as a marketer and grieving the loss of a parent. Eric told me about an online transformation challenge and encouraged me to consider participating. Always up for a challenge, my answer was a resounding yes! In February 2021 I got back to working out and slowly started to get my life and weight back on track," Monica said.

Like so many others, Monica battled to stay committed.

"It felt so much harder than I remembered from even 10 years before! You know how life is, two steps forward, one step back."

Maybe it was the gym environment or her own fighter's spirit, but something clicked for Monica. "I was just done battling inconsistency with my diet and training, so I decided to get serious and try my hand at competitive bodybuilding. Once again, the rest is history. I was hooked and gave it my absolute all."

In August of 2022, Monica hired Matthew Lovell and his wife, Hunter, to be her coaching team as she prepared to compete for the first time as a bodybuilder. The team had big expectations and they hit the ground running.

Monica was motivated to do this for herself, but she also saw the chance to lead others by example. "I wanted to prove to all my over-40 friends who believe they can't lose weight, because of their age, that they can! If I can do it, others absolutely can, too."

It was never easy, but Monica saw her challenge through. In May -- after 299 days of tracking macronutrients, early morning training, after work training, tears and temptations -- she placed second in the Women's Figure Masters 45+ Division at the Kuclo Classic Bodybuilding Competition in Plano, Texas.

The accomplishment has changed Monica's life, revealing strength and grit she wasn't fully aware she had.

"To be completely open and honest, it felt like more than I could handle at times. I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw in the towel. I wanted to stop. But -- and that word is so powerful -- but I continued on my journey every day."

At 49-years-old, Monica is living with passion and purpose not only for lifting toward her own goals but in uplifting others and helping them find their own strength.

"At Cass County Fitness, our culture is different. We are not in the gym business, we are in the people business, and this community is our focus," Monica said.

From those who have been inspired by watching her personal fitness transformation to those who have felt welcomed, included and encouraged by her presence at the front desk of their local gym, Monica is affecting hundreds of people for the better.

She masters empowerment through encouragement, whether it be friendly competition through member fitness challenges, hosting demonstrations to help inexperienced gymgoers overcome anxiety and being head "hype gal," or just extending casual invites to show up at the local track.

Still embracing the gym's signature mindset, she will soon accept a new challenge, and that is to compete next year in the Optimum Classic show in Shreveport, Louisiana.



"I have eaten pizza every Friday night since I was 4 years old," Monica shares. This is a great reminder that every person and journey looks different and it is OK to make it your own.

For those looking to start their own journey down the path of fitness, look to Monica's smile and be encouraged. You are strong enough to do this.

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