Free fitness classes in the park – all summer long

  • Above, The Hub fitness studio owner Tracy Roth led a handful of participants through a core fitness camp on Wednesday — encouraging parents to “use children for extra weight.”

  • Trainer Jim Lobley shows Jody Rosenbloom an exercise using a TRX suspension system as one piece of his Natural Fitness class. Lobley will be teaching Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 a.m. in Pulaski Park.

  • Jim Lobley coaches Jody Rosenbloom using a TRX suspension system in Pulaski Park. The program “gives the public a chance to enjoy the city’s beautiful parks while exercising and engaging with others,” said Health Department director Merridith O’Leary. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jim Lobley demonstrates one of the exercises he will teach using a TRX suspension system as one piece of his Natural Fitness class to Jody Rosenbloom. Lobley will be teaching Tuesday and Thursdays at 7:00 am in Pulaski Park. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jim Lobley talks about the Natural Fitness class he will teach Tuesday and Thursdays at 7:00 am in Pulaski Park. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jim Lobley demonstrates one of the exercises he will teach using a TRX suspension system as one piece of his Natural Fitness class to Jody Rosenbloom. Lobley will be teaching Tuesday and Thursdays at 7:00 am in Pulaski Park. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jim Lobley demonstrates one of the exercises he will teach using a TRX suspension system as one piece of his Natural Fitness class to Jody Rosenbloom. Lobley will be teaching Tuesday and Thursdays at 7:00 am in Pulaski Park. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The Hub fitness studio owner Tracy Roth led a handful of participants through a core fitness camp on Wednesday — encouraging parents to “use children for extra weight.” Submitted photo/Elise Linscott

  • The Hub fitness studio owner Tracy Roth led a handful of participants through a core fitness camp on Wednesday — encouraging parents to “use children for extra weight.” Submitted photo/Elise Linscott

For the Gazette
Published: 6/10/2019 3:49:52 PM

Free community fitness classes for all ages and abilities will be offered outdoors this summer, including weekdays in Pulaski Park and Saturdays in Florence Fields.

The program, overseen by Northampton’s city Health Department in collaboration with local fitness centers, started last week with a kickoff event and inaugural class Tuesday morning.

At noon on Wednesday, music played from a speaker on the lawn of Pulaski Park while instructor and The Hub fitness studio owner Tracy Roth led a handful of participants through a core fitness camp — also encouraging them to “use children for extra weight.”

Some kids didn’t need any prompting as they happily clambered over their parents during the class; others copied the workouts on their own towels, holding planks and doing jumping jacks alongside the rest of the group.

“It’s about uplifting the community,” Roth said of volunteering to teach the classes. “As a studio owner, I’m passionate about people feeling good in their bodies. And when we as individuals are stronger, we can help others, and our community becomes stronger together.”

A year ago, the city established a municipal wellness committee in order to brainstorm ways to boost the municipal work wellness program and encourage health among city employees. After coming up with the idea for the fitness classes, the Health Department decided to launch the program for all members of the public, not only for municipal employees, said Health Department director Merridith O’Leary.

The initiative “gives the public a chance to enjoy the city’s beautiful parks while exercising and engaging with others,” O’Leary said.

Wednesday’s class drew a handful of participants to start. As it continued, more people walking by stopped to ask questions and join in.

“It’s great seeing families working out together,” O’Leary said. “This is what we envisioned.”

Despite the sun and 80-degree weather, most participants stayed for the full 45 minutes. Each of the five weekly classes on the program schedule are 45 to 60 minutes long, O’Leary said.

“The class was wonderful,” said Kara Kritis after Wednesday’s core class. “It’s nice to be able to do something outdoors in our beautiful downtown park.”

Kritis said she recently joined The Hub studio and heard about the outdoor classes through Roth.

“It was really good... it was challenging but not forceful,” said class participant Eamon Edge. “There were plenty of options for variations on the exercises for different skill levels. I’ll definitely be back.”

Edge said he heard about the class through a post on the city’s website.

Class offerings on other days include boot camp, yoga, Zumba, calisthenics and general fitness.

Consideration was given during planning to the days and timing, too, with various options in order to create a well-rounded program, O’Leary said.

The noon class, for example, was designed to give people a chance to get away from their desks and enjoy the park during their lunch break.

Instructors from five fitness centers have volunteered to lead the classes, including The Hub, Anytime Fitness, Fitness Together, Hampshire YMCA and Natural Fitness.

O’Leary said it was easy finding instructors and that the participating studios said they’re “excited to be giving back to their community.”

The city’s next step will be spreading information about the classes. O’Leary hopes that will happen through marketing efforts and through word of mouth.

In the event of rain or inclement weather, class cancellations will be posted on the city’s website and will be tweeted out by the Mayor.

In the future, if the program gains momentum it could expand to more parks and with more class offerings, O’Leary said.

For anyone considering dropping in, Roth said she recommends bringing water, sunscreen, comfortable clothing and a yoga mat and/or towel (but these are not required – working out on the grass is fine).

Classes will be held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in Pulaski Park and Saturdays in Florence Fields, now through August 27.

The schedule will remain the same from week to week — for instance, Roth’s core strength and endurance class will be offered every Wednesday — but each class will vary.

Roth said she’s looking forward to bringing different equipment to use in future classes, like setting up obstacle courses. And she encourages curious onlookers to join in.




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