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Copyright 2018 Valley News Aug 2, 2018
Valley News; White River Junction, Vt.
Lebanon — A downtown Lebanon program is showing that four walls aren't necessary to pack the most into summertime exercise.
Fun Fitness in the Park, a partnership activity between the Lebanon Recreation and Parks Department and the Carter Community Building Association, has welcomed all ages for free interval fitness training on Tuesdays at Colburn Park.
Squats, lunges, jumps and plenty of socializing are the draw for participants who have worked with CCBA trainers Rick Dickson and Rose Grenier for 45-minute sessions beginning at noon in front of the stage at the east end of the park, across from the Lebanon Public Library.
Previously taught by instructors from nearby KDR Fitness, Fun Fitness in the Park began as part of an initiative by Lebanon's recreation department to increase overall daytime enjoyment of Colburn Park, also known as the Lebanon green. Fun Fitness is one of several weekday noontime offerings at the green, which also holds story time for children on Wednesdays and hosts a variety of musical performers on Thursdays.
"We really want to have something for everyone in the park," city recreation coordinator Krissy Flythe said. "This is great activity for people of all ages, that anyone can do, and let people know, 'Hey, it's OK to exercise outside.'
"I think there's a little bit of this idea out there that outdoors is for things like walking, biking and running, and (interval training) is for indoors. But it's OK to do jumping jacks outside."
Jumping jacks were one of many exercises that five participants — four children and one adult — performed on Tuesday. A warmup included squats and leg swings to help loosen the joints and muscles before attendees rotated through stations featuring classic cardiovascular drills such as mountain climbers, high knees and inchworms. Lunges and plyometric activities such as planks also were on the docket.
Grenier, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, wasn't afraid to use some of the motivational phrases she presumably also employs with clients at CCBA.
"Come on, I want to hear it!" Grenier said while charges, including brothers Hunter and Chase Banker, of Lebanon, performed sumo squats during the warmup section.
When 12-year-old Zoey Boyce, of West Lebanon, executed a plank with her backside too high in the air, Grenier helped her settle into a more effective stance.
Boyce was one of several kids there with grandparents. Her nana, Linda, watched from a nearby bench with the Banker boys' parents, Josh and Cigi Banker.
"She likes being part of organized exercise and working on different muscles," Linda Boyce said of Zoey, who is home-schooled. "I think she likes getting out and interacting with other kids, too."
Another grandmother, Emily Chapin, was the lone adult in the exercise group, participating alongside her granddaughter, 7-year-old Elise Weale, while her husband, Dave Chapin, looked on. During a water break, the rising second-grader was feeling the burn.
"It's tiring — especially the pushups," Weale said.
The group segued into work on a speed and agility ladder, testing coordination by shuffling in and out of rungs at varying speeds. Especially swift drills were greeted with high-fives by the instructors.
Grenier and Dickson then set up cones for some running and jogging relay drills, the last one sending them all the way to the middle of the park.
"Go all the way to the fountain!" Dickson called spontaneously.
Some, like 10-year-old Chase Banker, grunted at the notion but didn't slow down while finishing out the drill.
"Go longer, go harder!" Dickson urged to all.
Stretching out the running drill was an example of how the CCBA instructors' exercise plans may be modified on the spot, depending on the group at hand. Some kettle bells they'd brought over from the Witherell Center, meanwhile, never came out of the bags.
"A lot of what we do depends on who shows up," Grenier said. "Being as how it was mostly young kids, I didn't feel like we needed to get into (the kettle bells)."
Fun Fitness in the Park sessions have attracted no more than half a dozen participants, Dickson noted, though Flythe said she's received positive feedback from those who've attended.
"A lot of what I've heard is, 'Please keep it going,' " Flythe said. "From what I've seen, those who come seem to really appreciate it."
The session ended with a cool-down and stretch, including a yoga-style glute stretch that Boyce had requested earlier in the day.
Both Banker brothers had youth football practice later in the afternoon — Chase is on Lebanon's fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade team, while Hunter suits up for the middle school program — but they didn't feel like they'd be worn out for it.
"I actually feel like it got me pumped up and ready to go," said Hunter Banker, 12.
"Same," Chase added.
The final free Fun Fitness in the Park of the summer is scheduled for Tuesday from noon to 12:45 p.m.
Jared Pendak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3225.
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