Clark Fork Valley Press | Mineral Independent

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January is the official month of resolutions, turning over a new leaf, a new chapter, a fresh start.

In any given year the most common goals are to exercise more, lose weight, save money, get organized, or learn a new skill or hobby. On average, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. With health and wellbeing consistently at the top of the to-do list there are a few exercise opportunities available to Mineral County residents.

In Superior, Kristy Mask has been helping out with adult volleyball nights since 2013. As a public program granted by the school Mask said, “A group of us older ladies started it because we all loved volleyball and wanted something to do that would be fun. Over the years the younger women have joined and it has become more competitive and we’ve incorporated a few men.”

Throughout the school year these amateur volleyballers meet up on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m. Attendees must be 18 years and older to play. Mask remarked, “Anyone is allowed to come no experience level required. It’s mostly mid 20s or early 30s. We usually have a pretty good attendance at least 10 to 14 people show up and it’s a mostly females but we do have a few male players that come pretty regularly.”

If they have enough for a six-on-six match they’ll divide up teams and work people in and out on a rotation. “We do keep score and it is slightly competitive, we have players of all experience level including people who didn’t play in high school to ex-college players and high school stand outs but we try to have fun and to me that’s the most important!” shared Mask.

In volleyball the learning curve is manageable, and it’s modifiable for just about any fitness level. Mask explained, “Everybody loves volleyball it’s a little less high impact but still a good work out. It is hard that our community doesn’t have access to a really good gym so I think people try to get their exercise through any means necessary and we always welcome new people to volleyball you don’t have to be the best just show up with a good attitude.”

Another group fitness option offered down the road in St. Regis is Oula. Put on by Tammy Lowry through St. Regis School’s Adult Education program, Oula is exercise put to music. These choreographed dance routines are all about full body movements, interval training, and optimal fat-burning. Even as a beginner, the work of learning steps and dance moves is serious work but serious fun. The group now meets on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. in the public gym/weight room.

This same weight room and public access gym is the only one like it in the county. After Choices for Change Gym closed in 2020, this public use gym is a rare find for someone looking to use workout equipment and gear. Originally opened back in 2016 while converting the school’s bus barn, this workout space has been a welcome addition to the town.

Superintendent Joe Steele explained, “The conversion was necessary to provide a better space for the physical education classes and athletics. We also opened it to the community for use free of charge.”

With direct access on the side of the school building gym patrons can come and workout on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. While school is in session Monday through Friday, Steele said, “We also open it before school starts if patrons want an early morning workout. I am usually in there by 6:45 a.m.” Patrons need to be done with their workouts by 8 a.m. to comply with the start of school.

As you enter, you’ll most likely be greeted by Mark Fields, he’ll have you put your name down on the sign in sheet and even offer a brief tour of what the gym has to offer. Steele stated, “Mark supervises the weight room under Adult Education. He gets paid to ensure folks are using equipment properly and safely, to clean the facility and to provide supervision.”

Because the program is run through Adult Education, the facility is open to folks 16 years or older, minors be accompanied by parents.

The St. Regis gym has three treadmills that face an outside window. There are two step machines, a stationary bike, a variety of medicine balls, weights and weight machines, jump ropes, aerobic platforms, and workout mats. Steele mentioned, “We are also installing a large screen tv so folks can watch it while working out, or run a yoga program, etc. Our Oula group also uses the facility during the winter months for workouts.”

Although he’s no personal trainer, Steele does have a physical fitness background with his former days in the U.S. Marine Corps. His advice to those just starting an exercise regime this year, “First, consult your doctor and discuss the best physical fitness plan for you. If you are serious, find a partner who can help keep you accountable. Set goals and don’t get discouraged as you will likely meet some goals quickly, but will plateau. This is natural, keep pushing.” He added, “Also, do some strength and cardio exercises during the week. Finally, change things up often as your body will get used to doing the same exercises, and it will be harder to meet your goals.”

With very few fitness centers in the area, and for those wishing to work out from home but don’t know how to get started, a great alternative is the use of online exercise videos and websites. One such outlet is a company called Fitnessblender, not only does it boast the biggest fitness channel on YouTube, but it also features a stand-alone website where users can access over 500 different workout videos, for free.

Wife, business owner, and mom of four young children, Rebekah McGuffey recently started using Fitnessblender’s workout videos at home with her husband Isaiah.

Normally a zealous and devoted runner, she’s found that working out at home in this season of her life is what works best.

“We decided to do it because we wanted to work out every day consistently. We don’t have a lot of time so they are 10-to-20-minute workouts that we are starting out on. We have four kids so we work out after we put them to bed.” She added, “It’s going good. Really challenging right now and we are sticking to the shorter one’s workouts until we build up more strength.”

After creating a free login at www.fitnessblender.com/ users can add free workouts, or even purchase detailed week by week programs to add to their personal exercise calendars. Workouts feature almost every kind of exercise: yoga, Pilates, stretching, cardio, high intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, and low impact. Sessions can be chosen by length of time, level of intensity, caloric burn, and even specific to which area of the body.

Fitnessblender’s videos are created in a gym filming studio garage conversion at the home of Daniel and Kelli Segars, just outside of Seattle.

The husband-and-wife duo with over 15 years of combined personal training expertise, nutrition, and work in the fitness industry formed their company with one core principle.

“We believe fitness should be accessible to everyone, everywhere, regardless of income level or access to a gym. That’s why we offer hundreds of free, full-length workout videos, the most affordable and effective workout programs on the web, meal plans, and helpful health, nutrition and fitness information.”

Along with these exercise choices, one can never take for granted the vast opportunities waiting outdoors in Western Montana. Countless trails, to hike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski.

Rural life may mean less access to fitness centers and gyms on every street corner, but with a little effort staying fit and active year-round is highly achievable.

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