by Carla Occaso
How can you be healthy and love it? I’ll tell you when I find out. But in recent weeks I spent some time going around to a couple of indoor fitness facilities as well as checking out some of our outdoor recreation attractions. And, though I haven’t yet found something that sticks for me, I had fun trying.
How many times have you contracted for a year-long gym membership in January to fulfill your New Year’s resolution? And then, by the end of March you find you haven’t been since the middle of February? I have several friends who signed up for memberships in January 2015, but lost interest early on.
Why is this?
Maybe it is the time it takes to drive to the gym. Go into the locker room. Change clothes. Wait for the machine. Sweat. Feel self conscious. Look at yourself in the mirror. Sweat. Vow to get a haircut. Look at the perfectly fit person across the room. Sweat. Feel like a blob. Dread returning. Stay home. Open a bag of chips. Watch re-runs of The Golden Girls. Whoa! That is the wrong direction. What is the solution?
Find something you like to do and know you will stick with.
Some people swear by it, though, and have the hot body abs to show for it.
Maybe it is the gym. Maybe you look forward to getting into your workout clothes and witnessing as you progress from longer times on the treadmill to heavier amounts of weight you can lift. And the loss of fat. And the defined muscles. Maybe it inspires and invigorates you. I went to some local facilities seeking just such inspiration.
I went for a fitness class at Zenith Studios on Main Street in Montpelier. Loved the class. First of all, the trainer/owner, Amy Leventhal made me feel welcome even though I have not worked out regularly in years. Her class, “Strengthen, Tone, Condition.” This involved yoga mats, weights (5 lbs and 8 lbs) and a kettle ball. Most of the class involved using the whole body. The special gift Leventhal had was being in what looks like perfect fitness condition, but not making me feel terrible in comparison. I didn’t tell her I had a hysterectomy six months ago, because I had scurried in late, but the ab work was challenging.
Leventhal urged those of us with physical challenges to use less strenuous versions of the exercises. So, while the women on either side of me could hold one-armed planks, other students did two-armed planks for a shorter time. “Do something that makes you happy,” Leventhal said more than once. We did aerobic work and weight lifting work and lots of ab work and movement. The only thing keeping me from doing this regularly is my aforementioned mental block.
Next I went to First in Fitness up in Berlin. I am enticed by the hot tub and sauna — or at least the idea of the hot tub and sauna. They look so inviting. I haven’t done either of those in years, either, though I used to do regular circuit training there in the 1990s. The Nautilus machines are still there, but also there is a weight room, a pool, tennis courts, a yoga studio and classes.
I got a thorough personal tour from the owner, Mike Woodfield. Circuit training is still popular, especially among people who don’t use free weights. Circuit training, for those who don’t know, involves the user going from machine to machine that targets different muscle groups by having the user pull something, push something, squat, etc. They are adjustable to height, weight and strength.
First in Fitness also has ample cardiovascular exercise machines, including treadmills, stairclimbers, stationary bikes and cross trainers. Cross trainers are fairly new, and are desirable because they are easier on the joints and contain programs to emulate where the user can set the angle to increase or decrease difficulty.
Classes include Zumba, yoga, boot camp, tennis, swimming. For those who want to escape mud season, the pool is the place to go. The water holds at 82 degrees Fahrenheit. “The same as if you go to a tropical island,” Woodfield said. All the areas have well trained staff to teach the skills needed to use the equipment.
Other indoor gyms include:
- ReHab Gym at 219 North Main St., Barre, open to the public, and they have a pool, too.
- Snap Fitness on the Barre Montpelier Road, where they have exercise equipment and classes. One person I talked to likes this place because you can go there any time with the swipe of a card.
- Green Mountain Crossfit, located at The Confluence, 654 Granger Rd., Berlin, where they have a rowing studio, personal trainers, yoga, barre yoga and kettlebell. I have a friend who has a punch card to go there.
- I also would like to visit one of the several yoga studios. Not infrequently do I go through town and notice a handful of people heading in the same direction with a richly colored yoga mat tucked under their arm or on their back.
- Grateful Yoga on State Street in Montpelier
- Geezum Crow Yoga at Vermont College of Fine Arts campus
- Fusion Yoga at 56 East State St.
- Yoga Mountain Center at 7 Main St.
Other fitness opportunities:
I had planned to sample more places and classes and may just yet, but time ran out. In the future, I plan to check out the following places:
Contemporary Dance and Fitness at 18 Langdon St. in Montpelier, where they offer ballet, modern, hip hop, fusion, Afro Jazz and Yoga workouts.
And let’s not forget the Montpelier Recreation Department at 55 Barre St. They also offer swimming, tennis, baseball and other activities at the recreation field out on Elm Street.
I am struggling with finding somewhere to love working out. A couple of months ago I vowed to myself I would walk into town from the office at least once a week. Since then, I have done it a handful of times, but not even once a week. It is probably a mile or less round trip, but the hill is, in places, steep. And I can’t say it was the cold or the snow or the ice that deterred me, though they were factors. It is just overcoming the mental obstacle of taking an hour to go into town and back with all the things on my “to do” list, I always feel like I don’t have time for one big long chunk for exercise. However, I am not going to give up on the idea.