Rec-Plex Feature Stories
Total Body Camp Helps St. Peters Resident Lose 50 Pounds
St. Peters resident Brryan Jackson turned heartbreak into motivation to get his life back on track. “I had been trying to lose weight since last year,” Jackson said. “One of my mentors passed away, so I wasn’t in a very good place. It was a really hard time, but I knew I needed to get healthy again.”
Brryan started a low-carb diet to help him lose weight, then searched for a personal trainer to speed up the process. He happened to already know David Griffith, a personal trainer at St. Peters Rec-Plex, who invited Brryan to come to his Total Body Camp group personal training class. After six months of taking the class and eating right, Brryan lost 50 pounds.
“What I like about the class is it’s not a large class, so you still feel like you’re getting that one-on-one personal training,” Brryan said. “I like that David knows how his clients want to be pushed. He realizes that nothing is one size fits all—everybody is different. He listens to the difference and he accommodates that in a way that gets people the results fast.”
Brryan also said he enjoys the group dynamic of the class because it feels like you’re not just taking a class at the Rec-Plex, but you are part of a community. Everyone is on their own fitness journey, but they’re all in it together.
“I’ve met some phenomenal people,” he said. “We cry together, we fight together. It makes you want to come to class.” He says even on the days when he doesn’t feel like coming to class because it’s too cold or he’s too tired, he wants to come not just for himself but to support others in the class.
Browse Rec-Connect to learn more about Total Body Camp.
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Paula Loses 50 Pounds, Gains Strength & Friends at Rec-Plex
Paula Worlitz says she’s always battled her weight. About 10 years ago, she lost 50 pounds through diet. Looking to lose weight again last year, Paula started another diet.
Again, success! Paula lost 50 pounds in 2016. But, this time around, as a St. Peters Rec-Plex member, Paula says that she’s experienced even better results—her body’s toned and she’s wearing smaller sizes compared to her previous weight loss experience. Paula believes that’s due to the benefits she gets from Group Aerobics classes that are available FREE to Rec-Plex members.
“I just, overall, feel really good. I feel stronger. I have more stamina,” Paula says.
Three times a week, Paula gets up early and drives from Orchard Farm to attend the 5:45 a.m. Cardio-Strength Intervals classes at the Rec-Plex. “I like the variety in the class because we do cardio, core and weights. As you get older, the weight lifting is very important,” Paula says.
Paula, who recently celebrated her 56th birthday, says strength training has helped her feel stronger than even when she turned 40. And, working out has given her more energy overall.
It takes commitment for Paula to drive 15 miles to the Rec-Plex and then to her job in Bridgeton. The payoff has been well worth it to her, not just for physical fitness, but also for social reasons. Group Aerobics classes at the Rec-Plex act as a fitness support group for regular participants, and at times people like Paula also find new friendships that extend beyond the walls of the class.
“We go to lunch together,” she said of the friends she found at the Rec-Plex. “I’ve made some good friendships. … I love the camaraderie of all of the girls. They are just wonderful people.”
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‘A WALKING MIRACLE’
Rec-Plex Member Stands Tall and Says Goodbye to Bone Density Medicine and Pain Shots
Dawn Tiemann suffered from severe back problems. The frame of her body hunched like a question mark. Her bones were weakened. Unable to stand or sit for long periods, Dawn had to quit her job as a carrier for the Post Office. She was getting shots in the lower back and upper back to help with the pain, and she was taking medicine for her bone density. Mostly, she was lying down to avoid the chance of more pain.
“I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t sit for long, I couldn’t walk much … I couldn’t do a lot of stuff,” Dawn recalls. She thought about the chance that she could live out her later years immobile, just lying on the couch. She thought about how her mother needed to replace both her knees. The prospect chilled her.
So, when Dawn moved here from Florida about five years ago to be with her husband, Gregg, she decided that she had to try to do more to improve her condition. It started with walking slowly around the block. Then, she walked into the St. Peters Rec-Plex, and she tried a Group Aerobics class available free to Rec-Plex members. That decision would change Dawn’s life dramatically. Now, as she celebrates her 65th birthday in December, Dawn is also celebrating so much more.
Today, Dawn can do more than stand, sit and walk. She’s doing squats, planks, presses and many other moves that she could only dream about just a few short years ago. The workouts at the Group Aerobics classes have strengthened Dawn’s entire body—right down to the bone. In fact, recent measurements show that Dawn’s bone density increased to the point where her doctor took her off bone density medicine. Dawn had heard that the best she could hope for was to stop her bone mineral density from worsening, but instead she found that her regular workouts helped strengthen her bones. Now, Dawn feels better than she did any time in her 50s. No longer hunching in pain and no longer needing shots in her back, Dawn now stands tall and proud—like an exclamation point.
“To me, it is just amazing!” Dawn says of her transformation. “I think I’m a walking miracle.”
Like many of us, Dawn does not find that workouts by themselves are enjoyable—which is why the Rec-Plex Group Aerobics classes were so vital to her turnaround. When she walked into that first group fitness class at the Rec-Plex, she was greeted with open arms and a supportive atmosphere.
“They were welcoming and encouraging,” Dawn said. “And, at the end of class, they said, See you tomorrow, so I said I better come tomorrow, they’re expecting me. Next thing you know, you’re hooked.”
Group Aerobics classes are offered Monday through Saturday at the Rec-Plex, and include options that focus on cardio and strength training. Dawn works out every weekday, taking three strength classes—with the muscle definition in her arms and shoulders to prove it. It took some time for Dawn to build up to where she is now. Dawn says she started “in the back of the class,” but she’s up at the front of the classes now. Through it all, Dawn has drawn inspiration from other class members, including some older women who show that staying active can give you a much better quality of life well into your twilight years.
“We all kind of encourage each other and say hi to new people. You want everyone to be successful,” Dawn says. “That’s why I like the Rec-Plex, we’re all like a family. We’re all in this together, different levels, all working together toward getting better.”
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Meet Kelsie Grate: The Rec-Plex’s New Ice Recreation Leader
As a young child, Kelsie Grate watched her grandfather officiate St. Louis Blues hockey practices. She got to see the Blues’ players up close and interact with them at their Chesterfield practice rink. The experience inspired her to take to the ice and learn how to skate at a North County rink at age 4. When her family moved to St. Peters in 1999, Kelsie’s love for ice skating grew at the St. Peters Rec-Plex, where she really hit her stride in the synchronized skating program. Now, Kelsie is back at the Rec-Plex, this time on staff overseeing ice operations at the Rec-Plex.
“I love the program here and how it really does feel like a family environment,” Kelsie says.
Growing up, Kelsie (maiden name Godar) spent many hours skating on the Rec-Plex ice and competed on synchro teams all the way through her senior year of high school. In fact, she was captain of the Synchro St. Louis Diamond Edges of the St. Peters Figure Skating Association for three years, and in her senior year the Diamond Edges were U.S. Figure Skating sectional champions. Her sister, Jessica, also skated at the Rec-Plex as well on the synchro team with Kelsie.
“That was so much fun. I just love the team aspect of synchro,” Kelsie says.
Kelsie graduated from Fort Zumwalt West in 2008 and studied Health Sciences at the University of Missouri. After graduating college, she got married and started a family in mid-Missouri. She worked at a Jefferson City ice rink, doing a little bit of everything to help the ice program grow. She taught Learn to Skate students and coached both figure skating and power skating for hockey players. She coached a few synchronized skating teams and helped Mizzou start their synchro program. And, in three years, Kelsie helped the Learn to Play Hockey program at the Jefferson City rink grow from 10 kids to more than 60 kids.
“I love it all on the ice. I’ve done just about everything except speed skating,” Kelsie says.
Now, Kelsie’s back in St. Peters and back at the Rec-Plex, where she’s leading the ice program as a Recreation Leader. The job was a natural fit. Kelsie, who took the position in June, oversees the Learn to Skate program, skate instructors, ice guards and general operations at the NHL-sized North Rink. She also helps with operations at two other NHL-sized rinks at Rec-Plex South.
Kelsie says the Rec-Plex still feels like a family environment with lots of support. “The skating parents have been awesome and super supportive. We’ve made some changes and they’ve really been on board,” she said.
Skaters in the Rec-Plex program range from ages 3 and up. Many young people in our community learn to skate here, and if they truly love it, they get a skating coach and graduate to competitions, including the Winter Blast at the Rec-Plex. Or, kids might learn to skate so that they can pursue competitive youth hockey.
A lot of the program’s figure skaters take part in the Rec-Plex’s two ice shows—Winter Wonderland on Ice in December and the Spring Ice Show in May. “They get to show off what they’ve been practicing and how much they love it,” Kelsie says. “There are so many different opportunities that you have as a skater.”
Then, there’s the synchronized skating program that Kelsie enjoyed so much growing up. She’s happy to see that synchro is as strong as ever at the Rec-Plex. In fact, for the past four years the Diamond Edges have won the ISI’s highest accomplishment, the Teen Premier national championship.
And, while most of the ice programs are aimed at kids, Kelsie wants people to know that the Rec-Plex also offers opportunities for adults. Classes include Adult Basic 1 and Adult Workshop, as well as Hockey 101 for Adults. Many adults enjoy working on their skills during public ice skating sessions at the Rec-Plex. And, if adults want to continue to work on their hockey skills, they can take advantage of Adult Drop-in Hockey as well as Stick and Puck sessions (also available to youth) at the Rec-Plex.
Kelsie thinks that when adults learn to skate, they get more enjoyment out of their child’s experience in the skating program. Plus, it’s just great exercise.
“Anybody who’s interested in skating with their kids, I really encourage them to sign up for a class, themselves,” Kelsie says. “I’ve had quite a few adult skaters that I’ve coached myself, and they continued doing it after their kids graduated high school, because they like doing it recreationally as a different source of exercise. It’s a graceful sport but at the same time it’s a lot of work, too. So, if you want to try something different in your exercise routine, I highly encourage it.”
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STUDENT TO INSTRUCTOR: Kari Horn Regained Her Fitness and Now Helps Others Do the Same
Kari Horn, left, leads a Bootcamp group aerobics class at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
Health, fitness and the human body—Kari Horn has a great bit of knowledge about those subjects. She has a degree in biochemistry from Purdue University, and a doctorate in chiropractic from Logan University. She’s worked as a personal trainer. And, she was an athlete, playing volleyball and basketball in high school, lacrosse and equestrian sports in college.
“I was always active,” she said.
Then, life happened: Marriage, work, kids—three of them, two boys and a girl. “I totally dropped off of fitness,” Kari says. “I gained a lot of weight. I never dropped that baby weight … it was hard.”
To see Kari these days, you’d never know it. She’s leading people through some challenging Bootcamp group aerobics workouts at the St. Peters Rec-Plex, and helping RPX Cycling students sweat off 400-600 calories at a time on Spinning® bikes. She also leads an Active Older Adult class that helps students build balance, coordination and stamina—something we all need for a happier, healthier life.
Whether the people in her classes are beginners or advanced, or somewhere in between, Kari knows exactly what they’re going through, because she went through it, too, in the same workout rooms at the Rec-Plex.
“Honestly, it was here that got me back to it. My husband had gotten us a membership to the Rec-Plex. The first year, I did not use it. I’d had my third kid, and it took it out of me. One day, I was trying to pick up all the Hot Wheels off the floor, and my back was killing me, and my knees were hurting. I said that I had to do something. I have to get this back,” she said.
Kari started her road back to fitness with some Body Bar group aerobics classes at the Rec-Plex. She met friends and had fun working out. She ate better and counted her calories. In time, she got stronger. She felt fit again. Her body didn’t hurt anymore.
“And, I kept going because the classes were fun. You’re with people who are in the same boat as you. You’re all trying to get stronger, you’re all trying to get your life more fit, be there for your kids, be there for your family, for your friends,” she said.
The more she came to the Rec-Plex, the more different types of activities Kari tried. Some friends talked her into going to RPX Cycling classes, too, and Kari found that she loved them. She’d take the classes five or six days a week.
A friend asked her to run. Kari was reluctant. She hadn’t run since she hurt her hip playing sports in college. “I couldn’t run 50 feet,” Kari said. “But, with all these classes I had been doing and the strength I had been building in my hips with the Body Bar classes, I thought I’ll try, I’ll try. So, I started on the treadmill, started walking, doing that couch to 5K type of thing. And, one day I ran a mile nonstop, and I was so excited. I called everyone I knew and told them, ‘I ran a mile!’”
Then, she tried a 5K. Then, a 10K. Then, a half-marathon. “And, now I run, when I can. I train for different races to keep motivated,” Kari says.
These days, about three years after she started working out again and 50 pounds lighter, Kari feels like she’s in better shape than she was 20 years ago during her days playing sports.
Kari wants the students in her group aerobics classes to succeed, too. She remembers how it was for her starting out, and how she advanced over time with the help of her instructors. And, she knows from experience that people have different weaknesses or injuries to overcome. “Everyone in that class is at a different level,” she says. “Some people, they’ve got a bad knee or a bad shoulder. Just take it down a notch. Everybody in that class knows the different modifications that we have. And, you can change things up, so that any level that you’re at, you can still do something. Instead of jumping high, you can march along. You’re still moving, and that’s what matters.”
Kari also draws on her knowledge of chiropractic to help her students. She teaches a number of moves in her Active Older Adult classes that come from her experience dealing with patients. “It’s what I would do in rehab for people who had issues with legs or hips or knees or ankles to strengthen and get balance and coordination back for them,” she says.
The key for anyone who wants to get back in shape is to find the activities that best suit you, Kari says. Don’t like running? Maybe swimming is your thing. Can’t swim? Try a fitness class. Do you like strength training? Hit the weights. Have knee problems? Perhaps an elliptical machine can get you started. But, the first thing you have to do, Kari says, is make time for yourself and tend to your health for your own sake and so that you can be there for your family and friends.
“You do what you can do with your body. You’re given what you’re given, and you do the best with it,” she said.
Kari Horn, right, leads active older adults through a Rec-Plex class to build flexibility and balance.
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MOVING = HEATHY! 79-Year-Old Is One of Our Regular Walking Club Winners
About 35 years ago, Carol Chipley’s daughter asked her to start running with her. That started a great habit. At age 79, Carol’s still on the move. In fact, the Healthways SilverSneakers® Fitness program member is often among the monthly Walking Club winners at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
If not for a hip replacement at age 71, Carol might still be running. Her doctor suggested walking instead of running after her surgery, and Carol’s found that walking is a great way to stay active and healthy. “It’s not comfortable to run anymore. So, walking is comfortable,” she says.
Carol has been a member of the Rec-Plex since 2008 and a SilverSneakers member for the past few years. The Rec-Plex became a participating location for the Healthways SilverSneakers® Fitness program a few years ago, which means that people like Carol who are Medicare-eligible can qualify for a free membership when SilverSneakers is offered through their health plan.
While she may not run anymore, Carol sure doesn’t coast, either. She walks 3 miles on the Rec-Plex indoor track, and she walks on a treadmill in the Cardio Room. “I go as fast as I can,” Carol says.
All the walking has paid off. “I really think it’s worked. The running and walking over a period of time has kept me a lot healthier,” Carol says. She thinks just sitting around leads to more and more health problems for people her age. As she approaches her 80th birthday this summer, Carol doesn’t plan on slowing down.
The Rec-Plex Walking Club for older adults gives Carol even more incentive to walk. She usually gets to the Rec-Plex track early on weekdays and signs her name in the Walking Club log before taking to the track. The most active Walking Club members get recognized on a regular basis. “I like the competitive nature of it,” Carol says of the Walking Club. “Yes, I can be a competitor.”
Rec-Plex members can sign in for Walking Club credit as much as five times a week. Carol says she’s usually at the Rec-Plex six times weekly, arriving at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays. “It gets me going in the morning,” she says.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: We recently featured one of Carol's grandchildren, college-level synchronized ice skater Claire Chipley, who grew up learning to skate at the Rec-Plex. CLICK HERE for our story on Claire and Maddie Ruff.
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MOM MOTIVATED TO KEEP MOVING
Regular Rec-Plex Workouts Help Her Fight Bone Disease
Rec-Plex member Barb Kalinowski is a regular at the indoor track, Group Aerobics room and Cardio Room. She says that the Walking Club, cardio equipment and wonderful aerobics instructors are all great motivators to keep her moving. And, that’s really important, because exercise is critical for Barb’s health as she fights a disease that weakens her bones.
“I’ve been able to avoid fractures by working on balance, and working on improving muscle mass to be stronger and prevent falls,” Barb says.
Barb, her husband, Bob, and some of their 7 children work out at the Rec-Plex as Family Pass holders. Their daughter Julia, 15, is pictured above with Bob and Barb. Julia completed the Youth Fitness Orientation so that she can use the fitness rooms and indoor track, plus she joins Mom in some Group Aerobics classes.
“The Rec-Plex has been good for us because it’s flexible—it has lots of different things for us to do,” Barb says.
Barb, 58, says that her doctor prescribes medication and tells her she needs exercise in order to counter the effects of osteoporosis so that she can avoid broken bones. She also has a physical therapist who advises her on what movements to avoid so that she can exercise safely.
Group Aerobics instructors at the Rec-Plex are good at providing modifications to their workouts that adapt to Barb’s needs. She feels like she gets a workout that’s individualized for her.
“It’s just a good supportive environment,” Barb says of Group Aerobics classes. “To me, aerobics are good for your mental health. It’s a good stress reliever for me to exercise aerobically.”
Group Aerobics classes are available FREE with a Rec-Plex membership.
The Rec-Plex Walking Club also gets Barb moving on the indoor track more regularly. Walking Club members are encourage to meet at 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday for a chance to exercise, socialize and win prizes. But, if you can’t make that time, you can participate at other times throughout the week. Barb likes to get to the Rec-Plex first thing in the morning for her exercise and appreciates that the Walking Club (open and FREE to Rec-Plex members) is flexible.
“I think the Walking Club is great. It’s really motivated me to keep on going. It’s amazing what motivation you can get from just putting your name on the clipboard,” Barb says.
While Barb walks, Julia often runs. Bob works out a couple days a week in the fitness rooms. Some of the couple’s other kids join them at the Rec-Plex at times. Barb feels that working out at the Rec-Plex is a positive motivator for the entire family. “The more they see you going, the more interested they are in going,” Barb says of her kids.
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Resolve to Get the Whole Family Moving in 2016
PHOTO: Youth Fitness Orientation class at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
There’s a good chance that at some time in your life you stopped and thought, I could really use more exercise
Sadly, more and more over the years, Americans have come to another realization all too often: My kids also need more exercise!
In the past three decades, obesity has more than doubled among children between the ages of 6-11 and quadrupled for young people ages 12-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, a study in 2012 found that one in every three youth in those age groups were either overweight or obese.
Of course, it’s not just kids: The CDC points to a study finding that more than one out of every three American adults is obese. We also know that obesity can lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer—some of the leading causes of preventable death.
You can discuss and debate the reasons for our nation’s alarming decline in fitness. But, a couple things are for sure: 1) With the technological advances of mobile phones, apps, video games, video on demand and other distractions, it’s easy for everyone—children and adults—to find things to do besides get up and get active. 2) Only you can decide to do something about it for your family—and the best time to take action is now!
Make 2016 the year that you, and your family, get (or stay) active. Put health at the top of your priority list. Make a plan to eat better, exercise more and make better choices for the future.
In St. Peters, we’re blessed with some great facilities that can help you reach your fitness goals. We have 20 miles of paved trails and a park system with nearly 1,300 square miles of space. We also have the St. Peters Rec-Plex, a community jewel that offers a place for the entire family to get fit. Many area families are already investing in their health and their family’s future with a family membership at the Rec-Plex.
“Many people want to work out with their kids at the Rec-Plex,” says Rec-Plex director Rick Oloteo. “Our youth fitness program is becoming more and more popular.”
The Rec-Plex has 8,000 square feet of fitness space with a cardio room and weight room, as well an indoor track. If you have an older teen, keep in mind that any customer 16 and older can access the fitness areas. For teens ages 12 to 15, the Rec-Plex also offers a couple ways for your child to learn how to use the facility’s state-of-the-art fitness equipment and gain access to the fitness areas. You can have your child complete an initial consultation with a Rec-Plex personal trainer, or take the Rec-Plex’s Youth Fitness Orientation class. After completion of either option, your child receives a Fitness Card for access to the fitness areas. Parents are required to stay with kids ages 12-13 in the fitness rooms, and are encouraged to stay with ages 14 or 15—what better way to get fit as a family than to work out on the equipment together?
If you have younger kids, the Rec-Plex also offers a number of Family Fitness group classes: Mommy (or Daddy) & Me for ages 18 months-2 years, Preschoolers Can Exercise! for ages 3-4, Exer-Fun for ages 5-8, Junior Power Time for ages 7-10, and Bootcamp for Kids! for ages 10-14. A parent is required to accompany their kids in classes for ages 4 and under. In the other Family Fitness classes, parents don’t need to stay, but for a small fee you could choose to also join the class and exercise with your child!
CHECK THE LEISURE LINE ONLINE FOR FITNESS CLASSES.
For parents who want to work out but need a babysitter, the Rec-Plex offers a Tot Drop service for children ages 3 months to 8 years.
Rec-Plex members who upgrade to GOLD PLUS can take advantage of many family fitness options for FREE, including Youth Fitness Orientation class, Tot Drop visits, all of the Family Fitness classes mentioned above, and the initial personal trainer consultation (available to kids and parents).
Grandparents also can join with their grandchildren by purchasing a Grandparent Family Pass.
Another great thing about the Rec-Plex is that it offers much more than fitness equipment. You can also take advantage of the 3,300-square-foot Leisure Pool, 50-meter pool for recreational swimming and adult lap swimming, NHL-size rink with public ice skating sessions FREE to members, plus open play basketball or volleyball, and even pickleball.
Plus, the facility has both family locker rooms and adults-only locker rooms. And Rec-Plex members enjoy FREE adult group aerobics, FREE use of towels, locks and basketballs, and FREE access to outdoor pools during the summer—all the better to help you and your family keep moving year-round!
LEARN MORE ABOUT REC-PLEX MEMBERSHIPS
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STILL IN SYNCH: Former Rec-Plex Champs & Team Captains Skating Together at College Level
PHOTO: Maddie Ruff (left) and Claire Chipley, on break from Adrian College, skate at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
College students Maddie Ruff and Claire Chipley grew up skating on the ice at the St. Peters Rec-Plex. Like many other young local skaters, they moved up through the different levels of classes in the Rec-Plex learn-to-skate program. They found their stride with the synchronized skating teams at the Rec-Plex, working together with other young ladies, making memories and bonding together—even winning championships together.
In 2013 and 2014, Maddie and Claire were part of back-to-back championship synchronized ice skating teams at the Rec-Plex—serving as co-captains in 2014.
These days, Maddie, 20, and Claire, 19, are still striving to reach new goals and working harder than ever on the ice. Both earned scholarships to attend Adrian College in Michigan for the 2015-2016 school year. And, while they were on their holiday break, they were back at the Rec-Plex, working as ice attendants and sharpening their skills so they can help their team make its mark at the collegiate level.
Coming off a third-place finish at a recent competition, the women say their goal at Adrian College this year is to get on the podium at the national meet (fourth place or better). This won’t be easy—but for sure, they won’t come up short for lack of effort. While technically on break over the holidays, Maddie and Claire are working hard to keep up the same practice schedule that they have at college. The coaches sense how close their team is to reaching their goal. Maddie says that in the recent competition the second, third and fourth place teams were within a few points of each other. “That’s why the coaches are having us work over break. It’s crunch time now,” she says.
The synchronized skating team keeps Maddie and Claire busy most weekdays and oftentimes on weekends, whether it’s practicing, competing or attending social events and raising funds. Breaks from school only provide more time for practice.
“It takes up a lot of our time. I describe it to people that it’s like a sorority, too,” Claire says. She says that if she didn’t think the work was paying off, she wouldn’t be skating in college. But, the ladies see the progress and are proud of their recent third place finish.
Having the Rec-Plex as their place of employment helps Maddie and Claire train for their sport. As part-time ice attendants, they can use the facilities at the Rec-Plex to get in their workouts and skating time before and after their shifts. Membership is free to employees. “It’s a huge bonus,” Maddie says.
“Without the Rec-Plex, it would have been a lot harder to prepare for school,” Claire says.
Claire, who lives in St. Peters, was 6 years old when her mother enrolled her in her first ice skating class at the Rec-Plex. Maddie, of St. Charles, started at age 3.
The two ladies both say they loved their home rink at the Rec-Plex, not just because they feel it’s one of the prettiest rinks around, but because of the family atmosphere that the program has fostered. They think that this atmosphere comes from the familiarity of the coaches, who return year after year, and the fact that skaters get to know each other so well through the synchronized skating teams.
“Everyone grows up together,” Claire says.
As girls skating on the Rec-Plex teams, they never felt undue pressure on the ice. Other skaters were their friends. The coaches would ask skaters what they could do on the ice, and then incorporate the skaters’ abilities into the team’s routine.
Obviously, this team bonding worked: The Synchro St. Louis Diamond Edges teams of the St. Peters Figure Skating Association at the Rec-Plex have won seven national synchronized skating championships through the Ice Skating Institute (ISI) over the years. The ladies were very excited to win two years in a row in 2013 and 2014. As for being co-captains in 2014, Maddie says that “it was extremely rewarding being able to lead our team to a national championship.”
PHOTO: Front row, L to R: Haley Clark, Michelle Koverman, Madison Presson, Sydney Wylie, Claire Chipley, Tabitha Hunter; Back row, L to R: Kristy Eslinger, Maddie Ruff, Morgan Booher, Morgan Schroer, Sara Norsen and Mali Gartin.
That was Maddie’s senior year of high school. She felt like she had enough of skating when she graduated. She spent her freshman year studying at Missouri State University, and away from the ice rink. “I was done with it,” Maddie says of synchronized skating. “And, then I realized that I didn’t want to be done with it.”
Last spring (2015), both Maddie and Claire found out that Adrian College was holding team tryouts for their synchronized skating teams. Adrian has teams on three levels: open collegiate, collegiate and senior. The senior level team at Adrian College is actually competing as Team USA this year in Italy. It’s obviously a competitive program.
Maddie, a sophomore, and Claire, a freshman, are on the collegiate level team, which is a step below senior but still very competitive. Only so many colleges in the U.S. have synchronized skating programs. In their last competition, where they finished in third place, Adrian College was one of 10 programs participating.
The movement in synchronized skating is to try to become an Olympic sport, Claire and Maddie say, so every year the sport pushes the envelope a little bit more to make the programs more interesting. The ladies say that at a basic level synchronized skating is like dancing in synch on the ice. The athletes try to make the same movements and skate the same figures on the ice. And, while there’s been some room for individualistic movements, now there’s a much bigger push for individual jumps, spins and lifts. Every year, judges want to see more and more skills from synchronized skaters in order to gain points in competitions.
“We do spin and jumps,” Claire says. “We have elements where the girls can go up and jump and spin, and we do lifts in the air. This is something that’s been in the sport, but it’s emphasized now to gain more points.
“Now, they’re wanting a higher level. One girl’s doing a double axel in a program at our school.”
Maddie says that college coaches don’t ask you what you can do. “They tell you what you need to be able to do, and if you can’t do it, you’re not going to be in the program. Someone else will do it,” she says.
Having each other helps the two ladies as they try to meet all of their goals and expectations. “It’s nice to have a familiar face that you really know, that you can be real with,” Claire says.
Maddie and Claire also were hired as ice attendants at the Rec-Plex at the same time in early 2013. This summer, they got to help Rec-Plex instructors with some of their ice skating classes—lending a hand during larger classes, giving extra attention to a special needs student, whatever the instructors needed.
The experience brought back memories—fond memories—of their days learning to skate at the Rec-Plex. “It’s kind of interesting to go through all of the classes and levels, and then this summer I got to help out with the classes,” Claire says. “It’s always been a part of my life. It’s definitely a family here.”
PHOTO: Claire (left) and Maddie also work part-time as Ice Attendants at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
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RETIRED LIFE AS A LIFEGUARD: Roger Bresnahan, 65, Says His Job at the Rec-Plex Is a Perfect Fit
Roger Bresnahan, who lives in unincorporated St. Peters, retired early with a buyout from a telecommunications company several years ago. After catching up on all of those home projects that stacked up over the years, Roger got restless. He wanted a part-time job to keep him busy and active.
He tried a few jobs that he just didn’t enjoy. A friend who lifeguards at his subdivision’s pool suggested he contact the St. Peters Rec-Plex and see about lifeguarding there. The Rec-Plex is open year-round and pays a premium to lifeguards for weekday daytime shifts, which is exactly when Roger wanted to work. He never lifeguarded before, but liked the idea and thought he’d give it a shot.
That was two and a half years ago. At age 65, Roger is still lifeguarding three days a week at the Rec-Plex.
“I really like it. I like swimming, and I’m at the age where I really need to try to stay fit,” Roger says. “It keeps you on your feet.”
It’s true that most lifeguard applicants are much younger, perhaps in college or still in high school. Roger tackles the position with as much gusto as anybody, even though he doesn’t need the money. “If I’m going to do a job, I’m going to do something I like. And, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability,” Roger says. “To me, this is a perfect fit.”
Lifeguard, as the title implies, is an important position for the safety of people who use public pools. The City of St. Peters has certified lifeguards on duty at the Rec-Plex natatorium in the Olympic-size pool and leisure pool, and at St. Peters’ outdoor pools during the summer months.
Roger, just like every lifeguard, must pass a certification test, pass re-certification annually and train four hours each month. All lifeguards must be mentally prepared in order to act on their training at any time. St. Peters hires acclaimed aquatic risk management company Jeff Ellis & Associates, Inc., to certify its lifeguards. Five times a year, a representative from Jeff Ellis & Associates shows up during an unannounced “audit” to test the preparedness and training of St. Peters’ lifeguards. Lifeguards must be on top of their game to monitor the Natatorium pools for people in distress, but they also are trained to respond to trauma situations at any location at the Rec-Plex. Trauma training includes administering CPR, performing the Heimlich maneuver, tending to injuries (including spinal injuries) and using an Automated External Defibrillator to treat sudden cardiac arrest.
Roger and some other Rec-Plex lifeguards earned special recognition from Mayor Len Pagano last year after they helped save the life of a Rec-Plex patron who was in cardiac arrest. Roger and another lifeguard took turns administering CPR to the man until first responders took over. Lifeguards are trained to give a patron in distress the best possible care and prevention of further injury until EMS arrives on the scene.
There’s irony in the fact that these days Roger might be asked to call 911 in case of an emergency. In 1988, during his previous career, Roger made the first 911 call in St. Peters (and St. Charles County and Lake St. Louis) when he worked in the telecommunications field. Roger was the project manager working with emergency call centers to set up the area’s first 911 system and he was testing the system. Now, he’s acting on emergency situations for real.
“They call lifeguards the first responder before the first responders,” Roger says. He never hoped to get in a situation to be a first responder. “But,” Roger found, “if you get the right training, you can do it.”
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INTRODUCING KELLY PETTIS: New Recreation Leader Excited to Help You Meet Your Goals
If you see Kelly Pettis, our new Recreation Leader for fitness, say, “Hello!” … that is, if you haven’t met her already.
Kelly has been a fixture at the St. Peters Rec-Plex for years—she grew up swimming and working out at the Rec-Plex and started working as an employee at the Rec-Plex eight years ago during her junior year of high school. She started as a swim instructor, became a lifeguard, and has served as a head lifeguard the past five years. Recently, Kelly began teaching aqua aerobics, too. And, she has worked elsewhere as a personal trainer.
“I enjoy working here,” says Kelly, who grew up in St. Peters near the Rec-Plex. “What I find exciting is that throughout this entire facility, you meet the most interesting people here at the Rec-Plex. And, you get this relationship with them, just seeing them every day, and they’re here and making an effort to make a difference. That makes me want to be here at my job, because I’m here to support them making a difference in their lives.”
In her position as Recreation Leader, Kelly manages fitness programs as well as general recreation programs. She supervises personal trainers, group fitness instructors, gym attendants, summer camp counselors and Tot Drop babysitters.
“In the past three years, fitness has become really important to me. I have a goal to become the oldest person alive,” Kelly says.
She’s not joking. And, to meet that goal, Kelly works out a lot and watches what she eats. She enjoys high-intensity training and runs half-marathons. In a recent half-marathon, Kelly noticed an older lady running right past her. That’s the type of person she wants to be, the person who stays active and fit well into her later years.
“I just have fun working out. It’s when I’m at my happiest,” she says.
Kelly hopes to impact others and help them get fit and be happy. She believes that healthier living plays an important role for happiness. “Your energy levels are up, and it just puts you in a good mood,” Kelly says.
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Fitness Room Changes: NEW Heavy Lifting, NEW RPX Cycling Room and More!
The St. Peters Rec-Plex appreciates all of our different types of customers: Whether you like to lift, sweat with cardio, train in a group, work with a personal trainer—we want you to feel home in our fitness rooms. Some new changes at the Rec-Plex aim to reach that goal:
- A NEW Extreme Lift Room is open for anyone who wants to train hard and build muscle. It’s located in the lower level, where the RPX Cycling/Kettlebell room was located. We just have a few rules: Grunting is ENCOURAGED! Sweating is OK! Don’t work out—TRAIN!
- The 3,500-square-foot Weight Room upstairs won’t change, but we expect less traffic as the Heavy Lifting Room (1,650 square feet) draws some customers.
- A new RPX Cycling Room has opened to great reviews! Located in the old personal training room, we’ve created a new space for cycling with a great sound system, video and overhead fans to add to the enjoyment of your workouts. You’ll really feel like part of the pack as you bike “on the trail” in front of you!
- The upper aerobics room has been converted to a Personal Training and Small Group Aerobics Room, and will also house Kettlebell classes. This room will get a lot more use now as we strive to give our Rec-Plex customers as many fitness options as possible.
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Tot Drop Babysitters Take Great Care of Rec-Plex Customers’ Kids
Above: Tot Drop babysitters Julie Smith (lead babysitter), Jenny McKenzie and Kathleen Scott
As some Moms and Dads work out at the St. Peters Rec-Plex, or watch their older kids take part in Rec-Plex classes or sports, their younger kids are exercising their imagination and building their social skills under the capable supervision of the Rec-Plex Tot Drop’s babysitters.
The Tot Drop’s babysitters include students, experienced mothers and loving grandmothers. Though they range in age, these babysitters have this in common: They all love kids and find the work rewarding.
Marie Fischer, the longest-serving member of the Tot Drop staff, raised her own four kids, babysat for three grandchildren, and even provided day care out of her home at one time. When she applied for a job at the Rec-Plex 15 years ago, the Tot Drop seemed like a natural fit. “I like the interaction with the kids,” Marie says. “And, when they go off to kindergarten, you miss them.”
Photo above: Tot Drop babysitter Marie Fischer
Many of the kids at the Rec-Plex Tot Drop are long-time regulars. Julie Smith, who is the Tot Drop’s lead babysitter, says that a lot of their kids and parents get to know each other. Some of them even go on play dates outside the Rec-Plex. “They definitely make friends in here,” Julie says.
As a Tot Drop babysitter for the past decade, Julie has enjoyed getting to know a lot of the families who use the Tot Drop. She said some kids come from the time that they’re infants until they head off to school. The Tot Drop accepts kids from age 3 months to 8 years old.
Tot Drop babysitters get down and play with the kids, prepare crafts, and, yes, play referee when needed. Julie says she often tells people, “How many people can say that they get to go to work and color?”
Parents say they appreciate the good care their kids get from the Rec-Plex babysitters. They can also rest assured that all Tot Drop babysitters go through the same thorough background check process as any employee hired by the City of St. Peters.
“The ladies in there are amazing with our kids. I can’t say enough about them. Our kids love them,” says Rec-Plex member Chrissy Vorst.
"I can’t speak highly enough of the Tot Drop," says another Rec-Plex member, Shauntae Staiger. "The workers are phenomenal with the kids. They truly care about the kids, and the kids really love them. The people who work in the Tot Drop have become my friends."
Frankie Duga started bringing her kids to the Tot Drop nearly five years ago. Her children, Bria, 5, and Layla, 3, are still regulars, and lately they’ve seen a lot more of Mommy because she started working as a Tot Drop babysitter last October. “I heard they were hiring, and the kids had been coming here for so long, and they loved it. I just thought it would be an excellent job to have. The atmosphere is very light. It’s a great job,” Frankie said. She also likes interacting with the children as well as seeing her own kids interact with other children.
Photo above: Tot Drop babysitter Frankie Duga with her children, Layla and Bria
Jenny McKenzie, a college student at UMSL, has babysat in the Tot Drop for four years, starting in her senior year of high school. Some of the parents have even hired Jenny to babysit their kids at home. She’ll be leaving for another position elsewhere soon, which she says is bittersweet because she’ll miss the kids.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Jenny says of babysitting at the Tot Drop. “I love working with the kids, and playing with them, and watching them grow, from crawling to walking to all grown up. I think that’s cool.”
Kathleen Scott has worked at the Tot Drop for about six years. She has three grandkids and says, “I think the kids relate to me because I’m a Grandma.” She appreciates that the kids all have different personalities, and she looks forward to when the Tot Drop gets younger babies.
“All and all, it’s very enjoyable,” Kathleen says.
Parents or guardians who are participating in an activity at the Rec-Plex may reserve their spot in the Tot Drop for a small fee (two-hour maximum per visit). If you upgrade to a Rec-Plex GOLD PLUS family or grandparent membership, you can reserve Tot Drop babysitting for FREE! Click here to learn more.
Tot Drop hours vary throughout the year. Check the Rec-Plex online calendar for current hours.
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STAYING ACTIVE = FEELING BETTER
Walking Club Winner Gets Physical and Social Benefits
When Diana Kaufman started coming to the St. Peters Rec-Plex on a regular basis, she began to realize a number of benefits.
“My balance and my flexibility is getting better. It makes you feel better. I just feel like it enhances your mood,” she says.
Diana comes to the Rec-Plex five or six times a week, enjoying both the Active Older Adult classes and walking on the indoor track as part of the Rec-Plex’s Walking Club. In fact, Diana has been the most active member of the Walking Club in its first two months (November and December), winning two “Rec-Plex: Home of the Champions” T-shirts in the process.
One of the things that Diana has noticed is that staying active at the Rec-Plex can be an anti-depressant of sorts—especially for older adults. Socializing with other people can be just as important as the exercise.
“Older people do need that social interaction. Your children are busy. Some people have been married for years, and they lost a spouse. It helps for them to get out,” Diana says. “I hear some people talk about getting relief from depression. It feels better when you get up and get out.”
She’s also a big fan of the instructors who teach half-hour Active Older Adult classes that build flexibility, balance and strength. “The instructors are great. They’re really nice and considerate of your age. They work with you. Sometimes, people need to sit rather than stand on some of the flexibility stretches,” Diana says.
Active Older Adult classes and the Walking Club are both FREE to Rec-Plex members. Learn more about programs for active older adults
Above: Walking Club.
Above: Active Older Adult Aerobics
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St. Peters Family Loves Staying Active at Rec-Plex
When Eric and Chrissy Vorst were looking for a new home a few years ago, they remember being impressed by all the amenities offered in St. Peters, including the trails, parks and one-of-a-kind St. Peters Rec-Plex. They chose a home in a St. Peters neighborhood near the Rec-Plex, and soon bought a GOLD PLUS membership at the family fitness and recreation center.
“We feel fortunate to live in St. Peters, where you have so many nice amenities like the Rec-Plex,” Eric says.
Eric, Chrissy, their preschooler Lia, and their toddler Will have all found a lot to do at the Rec-Plex, whether it’s the fitness rooms for Mom and Dad, classes for the kids or fun and exercise in the pool.
“I love it here,” Chrissy says.
The Vorsts say that they notice the difference in their fitness level, mood and sleep when they work out at the Rec-Plex.
Chrissy says, “I’m here at least four, up to six days a week. I do cardio every time I’m here. It does make a difference. I feel healthier than I have in years. Little differences, like if I come up to a flight of stairs, I jog up the flight of stairs now rather than running out of breath.”
The Vorsts are taking advantage of some of the extra benefits that come with their premium GOLD PLUS family membership. They enjoy FREE babysitting in the Rec-Plex Tot Drop, and FREE family fitness classes for the kids.
While Mom works out in the Cardio room, the kids have a great time playing in the Tot Drop. “The ladies in there are amazing with our kids. I can’t say enough about them. Our kids love them,” Chrissy says.
And, on Monday mornings, Chrissy can walk the kids back and forth between the Tot Drop and their classes—Mommy (or Daddy) & Me class for both Will and Mom, and Preschoolers Can Exercise! class for Lia.
“The instructor for those classes, she’s amazing. My children love her,” Chrissy says.
Will, in particular, is very active. And, it means a lot to Eric and Chrissy that there are family fitness classes and a caring Tot Drop at the Rec-Plex to help channel Will’s energy in a positive way.
For adults, the Rec-Plex has about 8,000 square feet of fitness space in its Weight Room and Cardio Room. The Cardio Room offers dozens of different state-of-the-art exercise machines for cross training. Chrissy says she loves that the Rec-Plex recently replaced 35 of its 68 cardio machines with newer models, some of which give her the ability to program an all-over workout.
“I like to use all of them. I rotate between the different machines,” Chrissy says.
While Chrissy prefers to run outdoors on City of St. Peters trails, both Eric and Chrissy can appreciate the rubberized indoor track inside the Rec-Plex. The track gives them an option to take cool-down walks after a workout.
Another big plus for Eric and Chrissy is that the Rec-Plex is a non-intimidating place to work out. “You have people of all ages, all sizes, all shapes and all fitness levels, and it’s very easy to feel really comfortable here,” Chrissy says.
“People aren’t watching you. They’re just here for fitness, not to see-and-be-seen. You can just focus on staying in shape,” Eric says.
The Vorsts are very impressed with the Rec-Plex’s Olympic-quality Natatorium. A swimmer in high school, Eric takes advantage of the adult lap lanes and was excited to have Lia and Will join swim lessons at the Rec-Plex. And, of course, the kids love the Leisure Pool and its play features.
“What kid doesn’t love to have a pool?” Chrissy said.
The Rec-Plex also has FREE group aerobics for members, an open play gymnasium and an ice rink with regular public ice skating sessions.
The Vorsts say they also plan to try ice skating in the future. As GOLD PLUS members, they can enjoy FREE ice skate rental.
Learn more about Rec-Plex memberships, or call 636-935-2386, ext. 1400. The Rec-Plex is located at 5200 Mexico Road next door to St. Peters City Hall.
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Rec-Plex Figure Skater Advances to Nationals
Christina and William Huang had their daughter, Angelina, try a variety of sports, activities and classes as a small child. They wanted to give her an opportunity to find out what she liked to do.
The St. Peters Rec-Plex offered some of those activities, including swimming and ice skating. It didn’t take long to find out that figure skating would be Angelina’s favorite. At age 6, it was hard to get her off the Rec-Plex ice.
“She really liked figure skating,” Christina said. “When we brought her to the public session, she never wanted to leave. She’d stay for the whole two hours. She’d play, play, play … .”
Angelina was a quick study at Rec-Plex Learn to Skate classes. While some kids take a few semesters to move up a level, Angelina would advance each semester. At age 7, she started training with a coach at the Rec-Plex. William recalled that his daughter would fight through bruises, skinned knees and soreness to keep skating.
“Sometimes, she can’t get up, because her core muscles are so sore,” William says. “But, five minutes later, she’d say, ‘I want to go to the rink!’ She still wants to skate. She never stops. So, that’s why we say, OK, let’s give her a chance” to see how far Angelina could go.
The answer to that question, so far, is to the national level of the U.S. Figure Skating Association, a feat never done before by a solo Rec-Plex skater.
At age 12, Angelina will compete in the juvenile level at the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships, which will take place from Jan. 17-25 in Greensboro, N.C.
She got there by first winning bronze at the 2015 Upper Great Lakes Regional Championship in St. Paul, Minn., in October, and then gold at the U.S. Figure Skating Midwestern Sectionals in Geneva, Ill., a Chicago suburb, in November.
“It’s still kind of hard to believe,” says Angelina of winning gold and making nationals. “It’s like news that you just can’t process.”
Though Angelina’s goal was to get to nationals, she says with a laugh: ”I didn’t always think it was possible.”
Just making a trip to the USFSA sectionals is a momentous occasion in the history of local figure skating. Angelina became the first solo figure skater from the St. Peters Figure Skating Association (SPFSA) to make it out of a USFSA regional event to qualify for a sectional.
The Rec-Plex is the home rink for the SPFSA. The local skating club also qualified four other figure skaters for the regional competition: Natalie Mispagel (13th in the Pre-Juvenile level qualifying round), Sarena Yeung (3rd in the Pre-Juvenile level qualifying round), Natalie Bruno (2nd in the Preliminary level qualifying round, and 6th in the final round) and Gabby Patschull, SPFSA Associate Member (1st in the Intermediate level qualifying round, and 11th in the final round).
(The USFSA is the organization that produces our nation’s Olympic figure skaters, although Angelina is in the juvenile level of the USFSA, not the senior level where athletes can qualify for international competition.)
Angelina’s coach, Kelsey Himmel, knows a few things about competing in big events. In 2001, at age 13, Kelsey Drewel (her maiden name) won gold at USFSA nationals and silver at the USFSA international championship. Kelsey grew up here, learning to skate from age 8 to 11 at the Rec-Plex. She then moved and won her USFSA events out of the University of Delaware skating club. After high school, Kelsey moved back here and has been coaching the past 10 years at the Rec-Plex.
Coach Kelsey Himmel and Angelina Huang
Kelsey says that Angelina has a strong work ethic and competitive nature. She works with Angelina to also stay mentally prepared and mentally tough during big events. “And, I think my background and different experiences I’ve had during my own skating career kind of helped me out as a coach and passed that onto her a little bit,” Kelsey said.
In the sectional competition, Angelina was up against figure skaters from 3 regions representing 22 states. That mental toughness would pay off.
“We are very proud,” William says of his daughter, “because, basically, most girls at this level are very talented, so the competition comes down to nerve. Who can deal with the nerve? And, I think she has a stronger will. She really wants to win. So, she holds on to every spin, every jump, and she did it beautifully, and she got gold.”
Angelina spends three hours per day, six days a week training as a figure skater, whether it’s on the ice or working on conditioning off the ice at the Rec-Plex. Her parents also take her to Chicago a few times a month to work with another coach, mostly on her jumps.
Angelina with parents Christina and William Huang
Dance is one of Angelina’s other interests, and Dad proudly points out that she performs dance routines at senior homes twice a month on Saturdays as part of a Christian ministry. Angelina dances to hip hop, ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary. On the ice, Angelina says, “I like soft and flowy music. I think I’m best at that.”
Kelsey says that figure skaters Angelina’s age usually are either technically sound or artistically adept, but Angelina has both qualities. “She’s a well-rounded skater,” Kelsey says. “I think the judges always love watching her skate. She’s gotten so many compliments all year about how great she does with her program.”
William and Christina say that Kelsey gets the credit for choreographing a great skating program for Angelina. In one competition, the judge was the President of the U.S. Figure Skating, Samuel Auxier. William says that Auxier told Angelina after the competition that “this is one of the best programs he had ever seen for a juvenile girl.”
Kelsey says that Angelina’s advancement to nationals is rare for the entire St. Louis area, not just the Rec-Plex. “Angelina’s one of the only skaters from our area to achieve this. It’s not only awesome for our club, but also for the
St. Louis area. She’s one of the first figure skaters from our area, individually, to go to nationals in a long time,” Kelsey said.
Angelina says it’s pretty cool to think that she’s the first solo figure skater to represent the St. Peters Figure Skating Association at the USFSA nationals. She’s happy to have the Rec-Plex for figure skating. “I think there are
nice facilities here, and everyone’s really nice to me. And, I think I have a good home rink,” Angelina says.
JANUARY 2015 UPDATE:
Angelina took 5th place in the juvenile level competition at the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships in Greensboro, N.C. Congratulations to Angelina on a wonderful accomplishment! Her father, William, told us, "Angelina skated beautifully at nationals. We are very proud of her."
NOVEMBER 2015 UPDATE:
For a second straight year, Rec-Plex figure skater Angelina Huang, age 13, qualified for the U.S. Figure Skating Association national championships! Angelina took the bronze in the Intermediate category recently at the Midwestern Sectional Championships near Cleveland, Ohio. She took 2nd in the short program and 3rd in the long program at the 22-state sectional event. Her father, William Huang, says that Angelina landed her first ever Triple Salchow jump in the competition!
Angelina will compete in the U.S. Figure Skating's 2016 nationals at St. Paul, Minn., in January 2016.
Last year, Angelina became the first-ever solo figure skater to represent the St. Peters Figure Skating Association and St. Peters Rec-Plex at the U.S. Figure Skating's nationals when she competed in the Juvenile division. She took 5th place nationally after winning gold in the Sectional!
The Rec-Plex is proud to have Angelina represent our community at the National Championships! Good luck, Angelina!
FEBRUARY 2016 UPDATE:
Rec-Plex figure skater Angelina Huang, 13, took 4th place overall (the Pewter Medal) in the Intermediate Ladies competition at the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships recently in St. Paul, Minn.
Congratulations, Angelina, on another wonderful accomplishment!
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INCOMPARABLE: Rec-Plex Member Completes Half-Ironman at Age 62
Kay Hathcock has competed in more than 100 triathlons during the past 15 years, and at age 62 she’s not slowing down. In fact, she was looking for a new challenge. So, she targeted an Ironman 70.3, also known as a half-Ironman.
The Ironman 70.3—named for the 70.3-mile course—would push Kay further than she’s ever gone. She would start with a 1.2-mile swim, continue with a 56-mile bike and end with a 13.1-mile run. By comparison’s sake, Kay previously completed “sprint” triathlons that cover about 16 miles and Olympic-length marathons with a course of nearly 32 miles.
Kay, a St. Peters resident and Rec-Plex member, chose to attempt the half-Ironman in Neoga, IL, in late August. Preparing for the event, she wanted to know how other competitors in her age group fared in the past. But, when she looked back through the Neoga course’s results over the years, she couldn’t find any record of another age 60-plus female competitor. Turns out, Kay Hathcock of St. Peters truly had no peer in this Ironman 70.3. And, the woman nearest her age during this year’s event was 10 years younger than Kay.
So, the incomparable Kay Hathcock, a 62-year-old who fights through arthritis to train and compete in triathlons, went to Neoga and made some history to become an Ironman 70.3. “My goal was to compete in it, and I finished it,” Kay says with a smile.
And, of course, she won her age category because she WAS her age category.
For the record, Kay finished the event in 8 hours, 11 minutes, 44 seconds.
Swimming 1.2 miles in choppy water? “That was no problem,” Kay said.
Bicycling 56 miles in the August heat? “No problem.”
The half-marathon run to finish the event? Kay had to fight through, just as she fights through aches and pains every day to train. Neoga is set in flat, windy plains. The combined wind and the increasingly hotter temperatures took a toll.
“The run was slow. Very, very slow,” Kay said. “I started out running a little bit. Then I’d run 100 steps, walk 100 steps. Then, I said, I can’t do this. It was hot and it was windy. I’m walking the rest. I just wanted to finish.”
Kay is an example of why the St. Peters Rec-Plex is known as the “Home of the Champions.” The number of success stories at the Rec-Plex is staggering. There are many people dropping pounds, transforming their bodies and improving their health. These are everyday people making choices to get fit. And, there are people like Kay who defy the norms of society by taking an extreme path due to sheer tenacity.
Living with arthritis won’t keep Kay down. She said that she would never do anything if she sat down every time she ached. Instead, she fights through it. She thinks it’s important to push through obstacles and work as hard as possible.
“You get to know what you can do when you push it. And, the farther you can push it, you get an inner happiness,” Kay says.
Every morning, Kay gets up early for her workout, oftentimes to train for an upcoming event. The Rec-Plex has helped Kay because it offers all of the facilities she needs to train for a triathlon, from the adult swim laps to the stationary bikes and treadmills. She’s also completed Rec-Plex Triathlons and often takes advantage of the Rec-Plex’s Indoor Triathlon Challenge—a series of indoor triathlons that help athletes keep sharp during the winter months.
Triathlon training involves doing “blocks” of training that combine either two parts of the triathlon or shorter versions of the entire triathlon. Triathletes don’t complete an entire event during training, and oftentimes don’t get to train on the course they’re competing, so there’s always some mystery as to what they’ll do the day of the triathlon.
After a full day pushing herself to become an Ironman 70.3, a very tired Kay Hathcock came up on the finish line. She usually reaches her hands high above her head in celebration when she completes a triathlon. This time, she could push her wary hands no higher than her shoulders—yet smiling nonetheless with the satisfaction of knowing that she pushed herself as far as she could.
“I was just very happy,” Kay said.
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Rec-Plex Helps Member Get to a Happier Place
When people get on a path to fitness, and they see results, those results can include many things besides the number on the scale. And, while Vickie Kujath has lost 75 pounds and 13 inches off her waist in just a year and a half, she’s gained so much more.
Vickie’s turnaround was one of mind, body and spirit. Unemployed and unable to lose weight, Vickie was mired in a funk and unhappy with her life. She wouldn't classify herself as suffering from depression, but she felt low. She spent a lot of time on her favorite social website, but otherwise withdrew from society. And, there were the big plates of empty calories—pasta and fast food that never filled her up. She couldn’t sleep at night, napped during the day, and just didn’t like herself. Vickie figured her best chance to lose weight was to gain enough weight so that she would qualify for a surgery that would restrict the amount she could eat.
“I was miserable,” she said.
On Feb. 15, 2013, Vickie decided to change all this. A trainer she met online gave her some free advice on how to adopt a new plan that would help change Vickie’s life. Vickie accepted a new spiritual path, new diet plan, and a new outlook. She got off the couch and started living life. Instead of empty carbs, now she’s eating nutritious meals. Her activity level went from zero to through the roof. And, she returned to the Rec-Plex, where her family previously had a membership for many years.
Vickie, 48, has many fond family memories of taking the kids to the Rec-Plex when they were younger, closing down the leisure pool many days. She likes that the Rec-Plex is a good family place, and she feels safe with the St. Peters Rangers stationed there. “There’s just something for everyone here,” she says.
But, in her previous life as a Rec-Plex member, Vickie never committed to a regular workout or diet routine, so her weight yo-yoed over the years. This time around as a Rec-Plex member, Vickie’s using the Rec-Plex to her full advantage. She’s been coming daily this summer—sometimes twice a day—often taking advantage of the group aerobics classes that are free with her membership. Or, she's on the stair stepper machine in the Rec-Plex cardio room, or strength training with lunges, curls, situps and other exercises in the weight room.
Nowadays, Vickie’s in a happier place in her life—and a happy place now that she’s back at the Rec-Plex.
“I’m energetic, I sleep through the night now, and I’ve been coming to the Rec-Plex faithfully for the past four months,” Vickie says. “It’s been amazing. And the people here are phenomenal. The staff is amazing. The facility is wonderful.”
Vickie says that in addition to getting a great workout at group aerobics classes, she learns a lot about how to exercise.
“I can’t say enough about the personal trainers who teach the aerobics classes. I’ve learned so much from them about my body and my health … you just ask them and they will say, ‘Do this,’ and I ask, ‘What will that do?’ and they will explain it. And, all of that has helped promote my losing all of this weight,” Vickie says.
PHOTOS starting at the top: Vickie Kujath does a curl in the Rec-Plex Weight room; Vickie, before her transformation; Vickie has spent many hours working out on the stair stepper machine in the Rec-Plex Cardio Room; Vickie takes advantage of Body Bar class, one of many Group Aerobics classes available FREE to Rec-Plex members.
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A SPECIAL 5K: St. Peters Resident Overcomes Heart Condition to Complete Rec-Plex 5K Challenge
Most people take it for granted. You start exercising, and your heart pumps harder. It has to pump harder to give your muscles the necessary oxygen they need to produce energy.
What if your heart rate couldn’t go up? Well, quite simply, you couldn’t exercise safely. That’s an obstacle that St. Peters resident Jamie Schaefer, 31, has faced for years.
Jamie used to have problems with her heart racing uncontrollably. After a series of heart procedures to correct the issue, a new problem arose: Her heart would not beat fast enough for regular activities. So, in February 2008, doctors implanted a pacemaker to regulate Jamie’s heartbeat, and she felt like her life jumped forward to her twilight years.
“A pacemaker is something I think about for an 80-year-old or 90-year-old person, and at the time I was 25,” Jamie said. “My whole life changed. When I first got it, I don’t want to say I gave up, but I thought that my activities were limited.”
Jamie has worked with her doctor and the pacemaker vendor to program the pacemaker to provide the correct “rate response”—increasing her heart rate when she exercises, but not too much when she does lighter activity such as walking to her car or doing housework.
“It’s a fine balance, and it’s a work in progress as they fine tune it for me,” Jamie says.
Through this process, Jamie had the mental challenge of trusting the technology that’s controlling her heart. When she first had the pacemaker surgery, Jamie never imagined that one day she might complete an endurance event. But, this spring, she decided it was time to do push herself and see if her heart could handle a new challenge. She joined the St. Peters Rec-Plex’s “Give It a Tri!” 5K Challenge class, an eight-week course taught by certified trainer Ben Hendrix, who leads students through exercises to build their strength and endurance to complete a 5K (about 3.1 miles). By the end of the course, the class’s students were ready for the “Give It a Tri!” 5K Run, which took place on the same morning as the Rec-Plex Spring Triathlon on June 15, Father’s Day.
It was a special Father’s Day as Jamie and her father, Tim, briskly walked the entire 5K together in 50 minutes, a pace of about 15 minutes per mile. Her Dad, a Vietnam Marine veteran who has high blood pressure and diabetes, also had never done a 5K. “It was not something we thought we’d ever be able to do. We were able to push each other and encourage each other, and we’ll probably do it again,” Jamie said.
One of the things that Jamie didn’t anticipate is the feeling of community that would develop between the people taking the Rec-Plex’s 5K Challenge class. “It was surprising how walking with a group of people got us closer,” she said. “If you didn’t see someone one week, you wondered if they were OK. And, to start and cross the finish line together was special to me. It helped a lot.
“Part of it is, if you’ve never done it before, 3.1 miles seems like it’s never going to end. But, you see those people at the end, and you’re pushing for the same goal … it really helps.”
The Rec-Plex will offer another Give It a Tri 5K Run during the Rec-Plex Fall Triathlon on Sept. 28, 2014, as well as another Give It a Tri 5K Challenge course that will begin in early August 2014. Check the Rec-Plex website at www.stpetersmo.net/rec-plex for updates on these programs.
Jamie plans to participate in the fall 5K and Challenge course. And, she’s doing so with a new lease on life. Her ultimate goal is to run a 5K. “I think if I’ve learned anything, it’s that the possibilities are endless as long as you want to do it yourself,” Jamie said.
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REC-PLEX'S MARC DAIGLE ENDURES IN IRONMAN EVENT
It’s called “Ironman” for a reason. Completing a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike ride aren’t enough. Those feats will only get you to the start of a 26.2-mile marathon run. Finish the entire triathlon inside 17 hours, and you’ll be proclaimed an Ironman as you cross the finish line.
Marc Daigle, Recreation Supervisor at the St. Peters Rec-Plex, is a young man who likes challenges. Last September, he redefined “endurance event” when he attempted to complete an Ironman competition in Lake Tahoe, Calif., just six weeks after contracting shingles.
Shingles causes severe itching and boils on the skin and shooting pain in your nervous system. It’s difficult to endure the excruciating pain from this illness in the best of conditions. It’s also difficult to complete an Ironman competition in the best of conditions. When Marc signed up for the Ironman competition in Lake Tahoe, little did he know that he would endure both a shingles outbreak and some nasty weather conditions.
Leading up to the Ironman competition, the shingles took its toll on Marc. “I lost 10 pounds. I missed almost two weeks of work. And, pretty much I could barely walk, let alone sit on a bike or do anything physical. Basically, it erased everything I tried to do, everything I built up to,” Marc said. “I was starting from scratch two weeks before the event.”
He had two doctors tell him not to race. A third doctor relented and told Marc he could try the Ironman. That third opinion is all Marc needed to hear. He was going.
Shingles wouldn’t be the only extra challenge that day. A cold front brought in some weird weather on September 22 in Lake Tahoe. “My body doesn’t react well to the cold,” Marc said. The temperature at the beginning of the event was 32 degrees. The water temperature was 57 degrees.
The Ironman swim is a mass of bodies competing for space, which on its own can cause some anxiety. About five minutes into the race, Marc had his goggles knocked off. He backstroked and breast stroked the rest of the way, finishing the 2.4-mile swim in an hour and 37 minutes.
When Marc arose from the water, he was unable to control his extremities. Volunteers opened food for him and changed him out of his swimming gear into his biking gear.
One delicate part of this story is where on his body Marc contracted shingles. Let’s just say it was on the part affected most by a bike seat. Through the pain, Marc soldiered onward to Lake Tahoe’s mountainous bike course. In the Ironman competition, you need to meet a certain distance by certain cutoff times. Marc’s day at the Ironman ended at 85 miles. He thinks he was two miles from reaching the next cutoff. He was pulled off the course and waited for a van. Was he glad this brutal challenge was over?
“No, I was upset. Mentally, I knew I could do it. I still think I could have cut it close to the time (of 17 hours) to finish the whole race,” Marc said. “Mentally, I was there, but physically my legs weren’t moving that fast. I just didn’t have enough strength because I had shingles and that was attacking my whole nervous system.
“I broke down on the mountain. It was awful. And, then I was all right until we drove back and saw my family and friends, and I lost it …”
Marc, 28, completed his first endurance event in June 2010. He started with the Rec-Plex Spring Triathlon. “I was looking for something to challenge myself both physically and mentally, and that’s what I went with,” he said.
In Marc’s position with the Rec-Plex, one of his jobs is to oversee the facility’s triathlons and other races. He said that the Rec-Plex is a great place for first-timers to try a Triathlon, because it’s not as long as an Olympic triathlon, and the event has flat land for biking and shady areas along the running course. It’s also nice to have the swimming portion in a controlled environment inside the Rec-Plex’s Olympic-quality Natatorium.
Marc didn’t plan to do more endurance events after that first experience. In fact, while he loves swimming and biking, he despises running long distances. “It’s my least favorite thing to do, but I call it a necessary evil,” he said.
So why do it? “It’s the challenge, the goal. If you can do something you don’t want to do, everything else comes easy,” Marc said. He also likes the way his body has transformed through his endurance training.
So, Marc did things he once never expected to do: longer Olympic-distance triathlons, four marathons, two half-Ironman events … and then the Ironman.
Marc actually completed a marathon in Dublin, Ireland, with eight members of his family in October 2013 while still in the midst of his shingles outbreak. Like the Ironman event, he already signed up for the marathon, and he wasn’t going to be the one member of his family who bowed out. He just ran slowly. “My body broke down. Physically, I wasn’t my best,” he said. “But, I didn’t want to be the one who didn’t finish.”
So, as you can imagine, after failing to complete his first Ironman competition, Marc quickly got back on the horse. On Jan. 1, 2014, he signed up to compete in the Ironman at The Woodlands, Texas, on May 17. He began training even though he didn’t completely rid himself of shingles until mid-January.
This time around, Marc employed the help of Rec-Plex personal trainer Ben Hendrix to prepare for the event. Training wasn’t ideal due to the icy and snowy winter, and Marc didn’t run as much as he would usually run, but he did a lot of strength training. He built up his core and flexibility with the help of workouts that Ben developed. He did all of his swimming in the Rec-Plex pool. He trained indoors for the bike event with RPX Cycling classes at the Rec-Plex and by hooking his own road bike up to an indoor trainer device at home.
Marc had a scare in April, just a month before the event, when he injured his knee. He didn’t tell any of his family and friends because he didn’t want to worry them after the shingles episode. He took two weeks off of running altogether to help it heal. By the time of the Ironman competition, Marc recovered and was feeling really fit.
“I was probably in the best shape of my life,” he said.
This time, in Texas, the weather would be pretty hot. Trainer Ben, who also has a degree in chiropractic, monitored Marc’s hydration levels in the time leading up to the event. “Ben was awesome,” Marc said.
Marc was nervous the morning of the event. A total of 18 friends and family members, including Ben, accompanied him to Texas, and he didn’t want to let them down. “And, I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do this. But, it was a good nervous, the good butterfly feelings in your stomach,” Marc said.
Because he didn’t get to really enjoy the first Ironman, Marc’s mantra for this Ironman was: “Just have fun!” He saw some of his friends as he swam through a canal at the end of the swimming leg. He yelled out at a friend, and his support group was able to follow him as he finished the swim. He had a brief moment to meet with them as he prepared for the 112-mile bike ride. Beginning at mile 60 of his bike ride, he got to see somebody from his group about every 10 miles. Every time he saw them, he would stop to hydrate and shoot the breeze just to soak in the moment.
“It was good mental relief to see family and friends,” he said.
Marc broke his personal record easily by completing the bike ride. The marathon, his biggest challenge, remained. The Texas heat reached the mid-80s as Marc took on his nemesis, long-distance running.
The 26.2-mile marathon was split into three laps. Marc felt good during the first lap, but he hit a wall in front of his family and friends during the second lap. “They could tell I was struggling a little bit,” he said. He still had about 17.5 miles to go, and decided he would power walk if he couldn’t run. Marc couldn’t think about how many miles it would take to finish, but rather just getting through the next mile to another aid station.
“Basically, I’d do anything I could to get to the next aid station,” Marc said. “And, I do that because when I run, because I hate it so much, I never look ahead to how many miles I have left. I only think about, ‘OK, I’m on Mile 8, I just want to get to Mile 9. OK, now it’s Mile 9, I need to get to Mile 10.' Because, it’s overwhelming to think that you’re at Mile 12 and you still have 14 miles to go.”
Every stop, he’d eat cookies, pretzels or chips, drink water or vitamin drinks, and shoot down a gooey substance that provided nutrition. You don’t eat much during an Ironman competition. You just try to replenish your fluid, sodium and nutrient levels as much as you can, when you can.
The best part of the run was that after the 23-mile marker, he could see his friends and family members as the finish line neared, and Ben and some other friends ran with Marc for a quarter of a mile. As Marc reached the finish line, about 14 hours after he began the day’s journey, he heard this sweet announcement over the loud speaker:
Marc Daigle, from St. Charles, Missouri, you ARE an Ironman!
“I pounded my chest, clapped my hands and teared up a little bit,” Marc said. This time, he shed tears of joy as he celebrated with friends and family.
If you’re wondering, yes, Marc plans to compete in another Ironman, though he’ll wait awhile because training, travel and entry fees can get expensive. Marc likes to travel when he competes in his endurance events. His next big competitions will be the New York City Triathlon in August and then the New York City Marathon in November.
In conjunction with the marathon, Marc is helping to raise funds to aid physical education and running programs at underprivileged schools. As someone who oversees the St. Peters Rec-Plex Summer Camps, Marc is proud that the fundraiser dovetails well with efforts of the City of St. Peters and Rec-Plex to support the Let’s Move! national initiative to counter childhood obesity. “That kind of brings it home and fits what we’re doing to support kids’ activities here,” he said.
The photos below were taken during the Ironman event in The Woodlands, Texas, on May 17, 2014:
Above: Rec-Plex personal trainer Ben Hendrix, left, helped Marc Daigle train for the Ironman competition.
Below: Marc and Ben after the event, and Marc with all of his friends and family who supported him during the Ironman competition.
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Hula Hoop for Fun and Fitness
Beth Foster enjoys hula hooping because it’s an exercise she can do with her daughter, it helps her stay fit, and it’s just fun to do.
“You can’t hoop without smiling. I absolutely love it,” Beth says. “It’s super-fun and a great way to lose weight. I’m down 20 pounds and smiling every day. ”
Certified to teach Hoopnotica® fitness classes, Beth is going to bring the energy and fun of hula hooping to the St. Peters Rec-Plex starting with classes this spring. Her first classes begin March 3 (for adults) and March 7 (for families).
Hula hooping works your whole body, especially your core muscles that you might not engage doing traditional gym activities like walking a treadmill and riding the stationary bike. “You can work your abs, your obliques, your hips, your arms, your shoulders, your legs, your feet—basically every muscle from head to toe—when you’re hooping,” she says. “It’s great for building core strength and balance.”
Rec-Plex member Carole Stangle suggested hula hoop classes at the Rec-Plex because she enjoys doing the exercise at home. Few places in our area offer a hula hoop program.
“I am really looking forward to taking this class. I have used my hula hoop at home for the past six months and I absolutely love it. It’s a fantastic workout for toning all of your core muscles. The best part is knowing that you’re burning a lot of calories while having a great time,” Carole said.
If you’ve never hula hooped, or if you’ve struggled with your kid’s hula hoop, Beth says that these classes will teach you the proper technique and get you the correct size hula hoop. The hula hoops you find in the toy aisle may work for kids and their tiny waists. But, for adults, hula hoops need to be bigger (generally reaching your chest from the floor, a minimum of 42 inches) and weighted correctly (no more than 3 pounds). To find a quality hula hoop that works for you, Beth says that you’d likely have to make one yourself or order one made to fit you. Rec-Plex hula hoop classes have a number of different sizes of hoops, all the way up to a “wonder hoop” that is almost as tall as Beth, who stands 5-foot-9. When using the right equipment, even first-timers can get the basics down in a few minutes. And, age is no obstacle. Beth says that her children’s great grandmother, who is in her 80s, was able to pick it up in a few minutes.
Beth also says that hula hoop classes can train you to pay closer attention to how your body works during exercise—something she says many adults have forgotten how to do. “In hooping, you have to pay attention to your body. You have to know when the hoop hits your body in order to keep the hoop going,” Beth says.
No matter your fitness level, Beth says, hooping can suit your needs. The Rec-Plex classes will teach basic hooping—forward stance and side stance, walking, turning, halos, hand spinning, hip and chest hooping—that will provide the foundation for all other hooping tricks. As you advance, you can do more to target different muscle groups and burn calories. You can do the “swoop” by bringing the hoop from the ground or the waist all the way over your head like a halo around your hands—a real workout for the upper body. “Foot hooping” has you lying on the floor, working your core muscles. Moving a hoop around your outstretched arm is a great trick for toning your arms and shoulders.
If you’re looking for a more intense workout, hooping can burn more than 420 calories per hour. If you already have an intense workout routine full of cardio and strength training, Beth says that you can feel free to fit in hooping because it won’t over-fatigue your muscles.
“Hooping is a way to maintain your workout routine, because it’s fun and easy. It’s completely low-impact. You won’t get sore. And, you can do it every day,” Beth says.
Basic Hula Flow for Adults meets at the Rec-Plex on Mondays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. beginning March 3, 2014. Basic Hula Flow for Everyone (the family class) meets on Fridays from 7-8 p.m. beginning March 7, 2014. The fee for each 6-week class is $55 for Rec-Plex members and $65 for the general public. Sign up for classes at the Rec-Plex, 5200 Mexico Rd., 636-939-2386, ext. 1400, or online using the Rec-Connect registration service.
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OVERCOMING OBSTACLES: Fitness Instructor Deb Stein Won't Let Chronic Asthma Keep Her Down
Deb Stein, 55, has suffered from chronic asthma since age 2. The first 40 years of her life, she couldn’t do any cardiovascular exercise. Some days, she couldn’t walk from one part of her house to the other. Deb still did strength training to try to keep off the extra weight that can make it even tougher to breathe. But, she couldn’t run, she couldn’t do aerobics, she couldn’t dream of doing endurance events.
Then, 15 years ago, Deb found the right asthma treatment thanks to advances in modern medicine. Now, the 5-foot-1 dynamo is not only doing cardio, she’s teaching fitness classes and helping other people get fit. She has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s in Gerontology with an emphasis in exercise and aging, runs the fitness center at St. Charles Community College, and leads a few group aerobics classes at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
Fueled by a passion for fitness, Deb battles chronic asthma daily with inhaler in hand. “I teach every class wheezing and using my inhaler,” Deb says. “What’re you gonna do? There’s plenty of time to roll over and play dead when I am dead. I try to preach to people that no matter what your issue is, no matter your condition, there are always modifications and ways to get through it.
“You can’t let it get you down.”
In 2009, Deb completed her first-ever endurance event, a Rec-Plex Triathlon. It was something that once upon a time she could never imagine doing. This year, at age 55, she completed Tough Mudder, a 12-mile obstacle course. The Tough Mudder event, which takes place locally in Montgomery City, frightened her some because she wondered if she might get hurt doing the obstacles. It turned out that she loved Tough Mudder because everybody helped each other, and it became a social event as much as an endurance event. She already signed up for next year’s Tough Mudder.
“One obstacle is the Berlin Wall. It’s 10 feet tall. I’m 5-foot-1,” Deb said. “We have to get over the wall. Taller people are helping me up, and people on the other side are helping. You work with people. It’s an amazing event.”
As you can imagine, Deb does not suffer excuses well when someone tells her that they can’t work out. To other asthma sufferers, she says she’s proof that treatments now exist to give you a chance to get active. Above all, Deb tries to find a reason to succeed, rather than fail.
“My tolerance level is very low for people who cry and whine a lot. The people who work out at the Rec-Plex do not whine and cry, because there’s always a way to do something, and they’re there to find a way,” she said.
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LOSING WEIGHT IN THE WATER: Amy Found ‘Low-Impact’ Aqua Aerobics to Have Big Impact
Amy Miller had two obstacles in her mind that kept her from exercising. She didn’t like to work out on her own, so she couldn’t stay motivated. And, Amy feared that she was too out of shape for group fitness classes.
“I started doing Weight Watchers at the end of December (2012). I was kind of successful, but I wasn’t good at exercising. I don’t really like it, so I needed structure and some kind of fitness class, because I knew I wasn’t going to do it on my own,” Amy said.
Amy decided to try aqua aerobics because she figured it would be easier on her body than land-based group exercise classes. She started taking instructor Christia Jones’ Advanced Aqua Aerobics class at the St. Peters Rec-Plex in February 2013, and she soon found out that while aqua aerobics creates less impact on your joints, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easy-going workout.
“It’s either that aqua aerobics was low-impact, or maybe because it’s in the water, but I just thought that maybe I could do this,” Amy said. “I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was. That was a surprise, but a good surprise.”
Amy’s lost 55 pounds in the past year, and she’s closing in on her fitness goal. Eating healthier and doing aqua aerobics helped her shed the weight. Plus, Amy’s water workouts have done wonders to help tone her body.
“My body started changing,” she said. “I started dropping inches. Things were toning. That was the key, and still is key. I have a few more pounds to reach my goal. I know it’s the water aerobics that’s doing it and keeping the weight off.”
Amy credits her instructor, Christia, for helping her burn off the pounds.
“Christia is an awesome instructor. She’s motivating, tough and fun. You can tell she really cares about what she’s doing and about people doing a good job and being fit. It’s never a problem getting to class now,” Amy says.
While aqua aerobics has less impact on the joints, Christia says her goal for her Advanced Aqua Aerobics class is to give her students a high-impact workout. “The main thing that I try to accomplish is to give them a very good workout—a good cardio workout and a good workout using the resistance of the water,” Christia says. “I try to keep it high-impact. And, within that 60 minutes, you can burn over 700 calories by moving at a high-impact pace.”
The St. Peters Rec-Plex offers a variety of aqua aerobics classes available in the early morning, daytime or evening. Search online for classes using www.stpetersmo.net/rec-connect.
ABOVE: Amy and her sister Mindy in Advanced Aqua Aerobics. BELOW: Christia Jones (right) keeps the class fun.
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HOOKED ON TRIATHLONS: Rec-Plex Member Finishes 100th Tri at Age 61, Inspires Friend to Try a Tri
With family cheering her on at the St. Peters Rec-Plex Fall Triathlon, Kay Hathcock reached a milestone in her life. She crossed the finish line on her 100th triathlon. Those 100 events include individual, team and indoor triathlons, all completed over the past 14 years.
And, at age 61, Kay’s not done. She plans to compete in many more.
“There’s a feeling after a triathlon that you feel like you can accomplish anything. It’s a neat feeling,” Kay says.
Kay is an active person, regardless of age. She and her husband, Dave, have been St. Peters Rec-Plex members since they moved to St. Peters in 2009. During the workweek, Kay often swims 100 laps when the Rec-Plex opens at 5 a.m. She also trains with co-workers, even completing high-intensity training with a workout buddy twice a week.
“If you train for a triathlon, you’ll be in the best shape of your life,” Kay says. “You have to swim, bike and run, consistently. You have to do weights to build everything around the muscles you’re training. You just can’t believe how it feels when you do it. And, everybody is so supportive.”
Not that the training is free of challenges for Kay. She’s overcome a number of conditions that could have slowed her down.
“It doesn’t come without injury, it doesn’t come without hurt,” Kay says of her training efforts. “I hurt probably every day of my life. I have arthritis. I have lumps on the bottom of my feet, and plantar fasciitis. If I stopped every time I hurt, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.”
Triathlons combine swimming, cycling and running. Before trying her first tri, Kay ran a marathon in 1998. She found that long distance running events weren’t for her. Kay wanted more cross-training that lessens the impact that comes with just running. She competes in several triathlons a year, in conditions that have ranged from near freezing to 100-plus temperatures. During the winter, she sometimes takes part in indoor triathlons. Last year, she did the Rec-Plex Indoor Triathlon Challenge, which begins each November.
One of the things that Kay loves about the sport is that athletes in the triathlon community are very supportive of each other. Newcomers are made to feel welcome, and competitors root each other on.
Once hooked on the sport, triathletes can get passionate about it and even convince friends to try it … like how Kay inspired work acquaintance Sean Morrison.
Sean tried his first triathlon event at the same Rec-Plex event that Kay completed her 100th. He said he did it for Kay. “She’s my inspiration,” Sean said. “I heard it was her 100th. I talked about it a lot with her. I said that I really want to do that, and that I’d do the first one on the same day she did her 100th.”
As a first-time triathlete, and as a diabetic, Sean faced a few challenges.
First, there’s the unknown. Sean has completed a number of running and cycling events. He practiced them ahead of time, so there was no question he could do it, and therefore little suspense. Swimming, cycling and running back-to-back is another thing. The Rec-Plex Triathlon requires competitors to swim 500 meters (indoors), get on their bike and ride 21 miles through nearby countryside, and then finish with a 5-mile run through St. Peters parks. “You can’t exactly replicate that ahead of time,” Sean said. At the same time, the unknown aspect adds to the thrill of completing a triathlon, he said.
Sean was never a swimmer. Like other first-time triathletes who aren’t used to swimming, Sean had to overcome his anxiety about completing the swimming portion of the triathlon. With the motivation he gained from talking to Kay, Sean started swimming laps and preparing for the Rec-Plex Fall Triathlon.
The other challenge for Sean is that he’s a diabetic who wears an insulin pump. He has to regulate his body’s blood sugar levels while he competes. He takes off his insulin pump to swim and has to put it back on afterward. During the triathlon, he had to take a little extra time to deal with the insulin pump and to eat something when necessary.
“It took me a while to go from event to event. My event times were fine, but I was slow during transitions. But, my objective was to finish, and I did,” Sean said. “It’s one of those things you can only learn by experience on how to work it.”
As he crossed the finish line, Sean said, “I was elated. I was thrilled to actually have done it.”
Like Kay, he looks forward to more triathlons.
“It was awesome. I can’t wait to do it again,” he said. “It’s thrilling to combine all three events in one day. Now, the challenge is to do it faster. I’m hooked. Kay told me I would be.”
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Expert Advice for a Fit Lifestyle
Rebecca Levine, dietician for the St. Peters Rec-Plex, has 25 years of experience as a registered licensed dietician. She teaches nutrition at two local community colleges. She’s certified as a personal trainer and as an instructor for a long list of group fitness classes. She’s worked with hospital patients, nursing home residents, corporations and many different kinds of people who need help turning their lives around for the better.
Rebecca’s had a lot of success stories. And, in each case, success begins when the person decides to do the work to reach their goals. “I tell people that I can coach them,” Rebecca says. “But, they have to decide that they want to get in shape.”
As Rebecca tells her group fitness students at the beginning of class: “You already did the hardest part of this workout. You made it here.”
So. If you’re here, reading this with the mindset that you want to get started on a healthier lifestyle, Rebecca has a lot of helpful advice. It all starts with a simple formula that anyone can do with some dedication: “It takes a combination of eating well and exercise to sustain long-term weight management and good health,” Rebecca says. “You need at least 30 minutes of activity every day, and you need to eat healthy. To reach your goals for a healthier lifestyle, you can’t do one without the other.”
SMALL STEPS, BIG GAINS
Don’t really know how to start working out? Rebecca makes it simple. Do 30 minutes of activity every day. If you can’t do 30 minutes all at once, fit in 10 minutes here and there. It doesn’t have to be a complicated workout, just something that you can do and something you like doing.
Rebecca says walking is the perfect way to start. “If you have a street, you have a place to walk,” she says. “People can see results right away. Small steps are big gains.”
Above all, be patient when you start, Rebecca says. Don’t compare yourself to the workout warrior on the exercise machine next to you. “Let go of your expectations because that will lead to frustration,” she said. “Accept that you’re starting out. You’ll make progress if you stick with it.”
As you get used to working out everyday, it’s time to vary your exercise routine. Rebecca says that the best way to exercise and avoid injury is to do a combination of workouts that build up your cardio, strength and flexibility. Don’t do the same exercise over and over because that can cause “overuse injuries.”
For example, you don’t want to just walk on the treadmill every day. That works the same muscles. The Rec-Plex has a lot of different cardio machines you can try. On the elliptical machines alone, you have two ways to work your body. You can move forward or reverse.
As you walk, jog, swim, bike or do any other type of cardio exercise, you’re building your heart muscle and that will lead to a longer life. But, don’t forget to build the rest of your muscles for a stronger life. Rebecca says that your muscles will lose strength if you don’t work on building them. Keep in mind, she says, that lean muscle will burn more calories than fat does. So, by building muscle, you’re boosting your metabolism and turning your body into a calorie-burner. This is important for both men and women. “Women sometimes worry that they’ll look too muscular if they do strength training, but we don’t have enough testosterone for that to happen,” Rebecca said.
When you work out your muscles, you also need to stretch to maintain flexibility. Some of Rebecca’s clients are grandparents who want to get down and play with their grandkids, but they can’t sit on the floor due to lack of flexibility. Don’t wait until you have problems with flexibility. Incorporate stretching into your fitness routine.
As you increase your flexibility, you’ll be less prone to injury. Rebecca says that every time you use a muscle, it shortens and gets tight. “You need to learn how to stretch, or the muscles will constantly shorten and shorten and shorten, and over time it will catch up with you and you increase the chances of getting injured,” Rebecca says.
Rec-Plex customers have access to a stretching cage in the fitness area that includes graphics showing plenty of different exercises that help increase flexibility.
KEYS TO EATING WELL
What should you eat? For best results, choose a balanced diet high in fiber and rich in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, beans and fruits. Choose lean meats for protein. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and avoid excessive use of caffeine and alcohol.
OK, so you know what to eat. Do you know what you’re actually eating? Rebecca says that she requires all of her clients to keep track of all the food they eat by keeping a food journal. Rebecca recommends the online application MyFitnessPal.com because you can track your food as well as your activities for a true sense of how many calories you’re eating and burning. “It’s all about accountability,” Rebecca says. “When you put it down on paper or on the computer, it gives you a clear picture of what you’re eating and how you’re eating. It’s very objective, and you end up making changes on your own when you see exactly what you’re eating. Every bite you eat can add up.”
How and when you eat is important, too, especially if you have trouble with portion control. Rebecca suggests eating several smaller meals throughout the day, about every three hours. At each meal, include both a high-fiber carbohydrate to give you long-lasting energy and a protein to fill you up.
If you eat healthy meals at the same time every day, Rebecca says, your body will do a better job of regulating its metabolism so that you can burn more calories.
Try to avoid situations that will sabotage your fitness goals. For example, Rebecca says that restaurant meals are notoriously high in calories. “When you dine out, go with the mindset that you won’t be finishing all of your food. Always take some food home with you,” she said.
Don’t chase fad diets, Rebecca says, because shortcuts to fitness won’t lead to long-lasting health. One recent trend is to have a “cheat day” each weekend where you can eat anything you want. To Rebecca, this invites you to sabotage a week of good fitness with one day of recklessness. “If you want a candy bar, have one during the week. But, like with anything, enjoy in moderation,” Rebecca says.
FITNESS IS FOR EVERYONE
No matter your age, or your condition, it’s not too early or too late to start your path to a healthier lifestyle.
Rebecca tells younger people that the things they do now will affect you later in life, if not immediately. Your metabolism will eventually slow and you’ll pay the price for poor choices, or reap the rewards of living a healthier lifestyle.
It’s never too late to turn it around, though. Rebecca’s helped many mature clients with conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes who have gotten off their medications through diet and exercise.
For obese clients, Rebecca stresses that you can’t turn things around immediately. But, you can make progress. And, slow progress can be a predictor that a client will be more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“And, if you do have trouble, find a workout partner or get a personal trainer … someone who you will be accountable to. That can make all the difference,” Rebecca says.
Learn more about all of the activities you can do at the St. Peters Rec-Plex, and how you can register to work out with a personal trainer to help you reach your fitness goals.
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ADVICE FOR EXPECTANT MOTHERS
Workout Tips from a Personal Trainer and New Mom
Kaycee Veilleux is a proud new mother with fresh memories of how she coped with her pregnancy as a personal trainer. Her first bit of advice is something that every expectant mother should follow: Check with your doctor before you start any workout routine.
If exercise is OK for you medically, Kaycee has some tips that could help you during your pregnancy, with your delivery and after giving birth.
Kaycee, who works as a Rec-Plex personal trainer and aerobics instructor, says, “Depending on your situation, working out could make your pregnancy easier and delivery faster. And, your postpartum bounce-back could be quicker.”
Kaycee stresses that her recommendations may work for some women but not apply to others … she says that everyone is different and must find their own path with the advice and consent of a doctor.
For pregnant women who are in good health, Kaycee first recommends a lot of walking during the pregnancy. If you’re used to running, that can be difficult while carrying a baby. Instead of running, Kaycee suggests light jogging with support from a maternity belly band—basically a large band of elastic plastic that goes around your stomach. If you want to get in out of the weather, be sure to take advantage of the rubberized indoor track at the Rec-Plex.
Water fitness is another great option for expectant mothers, Kaycee says, especially if you’re feeling achy in your bones or joints. She points out that the Rec-Plex offers a wide variety of Aqua Aerobics classes that can give you a great workout with very little impact on your body. Plus, Rec-Plex members have access to adult swim lap lanes.
What about strength training? Kaycee suggests doing squats, planks and hip bridges to help build your core muscles. “Building your core helps when you get to that ‘push’ stage of delivery,” she says.
Just keep in mind, Kaycee says, you can take it easier on the weights while pregnant. “I didn’t go as hard exercising, but I did all of the same things I did before,” she said. “You can cut down on the amount of weights you use. If you do squats, just use less weight than you did before. You’re already dealing with the extra weight from a pregnancy.”
One type of exercise that Kaycee wishes she had done during her pregnancy is prenatal yoga. She found out later that prenatal yoga could help loosen joints that you need to expand for a natural delivery. “My muscles were tight from working out a lot. I actually had a tougher time during my delivery. What yoga can do is help your hips shift and your back shift for an easier delivery. You’re actually more flexible during your pregnancy than any other time in your life,” Kaycee said. She said you can find a lot of videos online that show prenatal yoga exercises.
The St. Peters Rec-Plex is now offering a Prenatal Yoga class that begins this month on Friday, Oct. 4. Go online to www.stpetersmo.net/rec-connect to learn more and to register. The class is for both prenatal and post-natal women.
Kaycee says that a lot of sitting is not good for pregnant women. If you sit down a lot for your job, look for ways to walk more—maybe park further away at work or use the stairs if you have them. Or, she says, sit on a stability ball if that’s allowed in your workplace. Kaycee says that hospitals often use stability balls to prepare women for delivery.
Most of all, Kaycee says, look at exercising as a way for you to spend time for yourself. Think about the benefits for you, personally. She says that exercising can make you feel better, keep your energy up, and help you sleep better. Kaycee says that when she taught a Tuesday morning aerobics class during her pregnancy, she always felt better and had more energy throughout the day.
Kaycee says that exercising will also improve your blood flow, and that can offset common problems such as leg swelling—an issue she did not have during her pregnancy.
And, after delivering her baby boy, Reilly, in May 2013, Kaycee had an easier time during the postpartum period, both physically and emotionally. Research suggests that exercise helps curb depression both during and after your pregnancy. “Your postpartum bounce-back could be a lot quicker if you exercise. And, you’re less likely to have postpartum depression,” Kaycee says.
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Facing 50, Carey Suellentrop Turns to Rec-Plex Trainer for Fitness Gains
With her 50th birthday approaching, Carey Suellentrop was going to do something to make herself feel better. She decided she really wanted to slim down to take some of the sting off of reaching this milestone birthday.
But, Carey needed help. The St. Peters Rec-Plex member says she isn’t a gym rat. She doesn’t find herself in the fitness rooms when there’s nothing else to do. “I’d lose some weight on my own, but I’d put it back on,” Carey said. She decided last year to get a personal trainer to help her do what she needed to do to get in shape and stay in shape.
Rec-Plex certified personal trainer Rob Kemp gave Carey the guidance she needed. Within a year’s time, she got down from 175 to 135 pounds.
“I never thought I’d enjoy or look forward to working out, but it’s one of those things where you see you’re making progress and seeing results, so it’s easier to keep going back,” Carey said.
Carey works out with Rob two times a week, and comes back three or four more times each week to do routines that Rob maps out for her. She uses the equipment in the Rec-Plex’s expansive cardio and weight training rooms. The fitness rooms have 8,000 square feet of area filled with state-of-the-art equipment—ellipticals, cross trainers, stair steppers, treadmills, tread climbers, stationary and recumbent bikes and more for cardio, plus more than 30 units of Cybex and Nautilus circuit training equipment, free weights, a cable crossover unit, dumb bells, barbells and more for strength training. All of this equipment is great, but for fitness beginners it can be difficult to figure out just how to put it all to good use in a workout plan. That’s why customers like Carey see great results when they hire one of the Rec-Plex’s nationally certified personal trainers.
Personal trainers also give you extra support to help you through the tough times. Rob says that when Carey is tired and sore, or feeling down about working out, he asks her to think about the long run and reminds her how far she’s come. Carey also fills out a food journal to help with her diet. And, if she has a setback in her weight loss, Rob will look over her journal and give ideas on how to adjust her eating habits. “You are what you eat,” Rob says. “If you eat healthy, you will be healthy.”
The Rec-Plex offers a non-threatening, friendly atmosphere for anyone who wants to get in shape. Carey said she was self-conscious when she started training with Rob. That changed as she started making progress. Other members noticed her results and would stop her to congratulate her.
With her 50th birthday come and gone, Carey says, “I feel fantastic. Your self-esteem just goes through the roof when you start getting those compliments.”
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Olympian Was a Rec-Plex Triathlon Beginner
Perhaps a future Olympic triathlete will emerge from the upcoming Rec-Plex Fall Triathlon. Sound far-fetched? What if we told you that it’s happened before?
St. Louis native Sarah Haskins finished 11th at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. That same year, she won a silver medal in the triathlon World Championships. This was just five years after Sarah started competing in triathlons. The second triathlon she completed was at the St. Peters Rec-Plex in 2003.
Sarah says that she was “extremely green” when she competed at the Rec-Plex Triathlon 10 years ago. “My wheel started falling off my bike at the start due to lack of knowledge about how to put on my bike wheel properly!” Sarah recalls. “A police officer helped me put my wheel back on and I finished the race in first overall. The race was lots of fun and had a supportive crowd.”
At Parkway South High School, Sarah was a state champion in cross country and swimming. She competed in cross country and track at the University of Tulsa, where in 2000 she watched the Olympic debut of the triathlon event and dreamed that one day she would reach the Olympics. Upon graduation from college, she focused on her triathlon training. She won the Rec-Plex Triathlon in 2003 after graduating college, and the next summer she started training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Her professional career took off from there.
Sarah has 29 professional triathlon wins on her resume, including a gold medal at the Pan American Games in 2011. When she made it to Beijing to compete for her nation in 2008, she said she felt a flood of emotions. “Representing the USA in China was a childhood dream come true,” she said. “It was unlike any other competition, and it was an honor just stepping out on the start line.”
You don’t have to have dreams of making the Olympics or going pro in order to participate in the Rec-Plex Triathlon. The Rec-Plex is great for triathlon beginners, Sarah says, because it has an indoor pool and a shorter distance than the Olympic-distance triathlon. She says that triathlons, where you swim, bike and run, offer one of the best fitness sports for your body. Since you train in three sports, the triathlon provides well-rounded fitness, Sarah says, but it presents a lower risk of injury compared to over-stressing your body in one sport. Sarah says that the “tri community” is very open and friendly, so you don’t need to feel anxious about your level of training when you begin.
The St. Peters Rec-Plex offers a Spring Triathlon and Fall Triathlon. Many athletes like to do both triathlons to gauge their progress through the year. Plus, the Rec-Plex offers an Indoor Triathlon Challenge through the winter months. Teams and individuals may compete. Sign up early for lower registration fees. LEARN MORE.
“A triathlon is a challenge; enjoy the ride and embrace the road to get to the start line!” Sarah says.
Sarah now lives in Florida with her husband, Nathan Korteum (also her coach and training partner), and a newborn child. You can learn more about Sarah at www.sarahhaskins.com.
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PHOTOS OF STANLEY CUP AND BRANDON BOLLIG AT REC-PLEX SOUTH
July 31, 2013
Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig started his hockey career at the St. Peters Rec-Plex as a member of the Spirits organization. He never forgot his roots. On July 31, Brandon brought the Stanley Cup to the Rec-Plex to share with local hockey youth and fans.
As a member of the 2013 NHL champion Blackhawks, Brandon was given a day with the Stanley Cup. During the afternoon, Brandon brought “The Holy Grail of Hockey” to the Rec-Plex for a special appearance. He also shared the Stanley Cup experience with the St. Peters Spirit hockey players at center ice.
Mayor Len Pagano proclaimed July 31, 2013, “Brandon Bollig and Stanley Cup Day” in St. Peters. “Thank you, Brandon, so much for bringing the Stanley Cup to the St. Peters Rec-Plex. This was really neat for our community and all of our young hockey players with the St. Peters Spirit. It was truly a special day,” Mayor Pagano said.
DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLE ON BRANDON BOLLIG in the summer 2012 issue of the City of St. Peters' My Hometown magazine
IF BRANDON BOLLIG'S PHOTOGRAPHER TOOK PHOTOS OF YOU AT THE STANLEY CUP EVENT, CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON HOW YOU CAN DOWNLOAD PHOTOS.
Brandon Bollig raises the Stanley Cup after arriving at St. Peters Rec-Plex South.
St. Peters Spirit Board President Matt Burke, Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth, Alderman Terri Violet, Mayor Len Pagano and Brandon Bollig at the news conference.
Brandon Bollig speaks during the news conference as fans gather outside the glass in the ice rink.
Brandon Bollig looks at the Stanley Cup and a photo of him as a St. Peters Spirit hockey player posing with a little smaller trophy.
Hockey youth from the St. Peters Spirit organization surround Brandon and the Stanley Cup for a group photo at center ice.
Hundreds of fans took their photos with Brandon Bollig and the Stanley Cup. Some of them even placed their babies in the Cup.
Several hundred fans viewed the Stanley Cup from the arena's stands.
The event sold 235 tickets to adults for $5 each. Per Brandon Bollig's wishes, the funds raised during the event will benefit St. Louis Children's Hospital. Kids 12 and under were free.
If Brandon Bollig's photographer took photos of you at the Stanley Cup event, check the following website and use the following code to find your Stanley Cup photos:
Website - www.Sdphotomo.com/bollig52.html
The website will have instructions on how to download the photos.
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Rec-Plex Workouts + Eating Better = 33% Weight Loss
Shain Shaheen couldn’t walk up the stairs without getting winded. At 5-foot-7, he weighed 210 pounds. He was on medicine for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He was facing the prospect of buying bigger pants again. He had enough.
“I told my wife, this is it. I’m not buying any more pants. If they’re tight, OK, but I’m not going up in size again. I’m going to do something about this,” he said.
Shain cleaned out the refrigerator. He followed a nutritionist’s advice to eat more nutritious food slowly throughout the day. He started working out almost daily at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
Sometimes, results don’t happen overnight; Shain is a good example of what happens when you fight through early setbacks and keep with it. He didn’t lose weight the first couple months, and that was discouraging. But, Shain kept with it. At about the three-month mark, the weight started shedding quickly.
“It was encouraging for me,” he said.
Shain’s effort paid off with big-time results. He went all the way down to 140 pounds—a 33% weight reduction.
Five years after he started, Shain, 49, is keeping up with a workout routine five days a week at the Rec-Plex. He usually warms up in the cardio room and then moves to the weight room for a brisk workout. The Rec-Plex has a wide variety of fitness equipment so that Shain can focus on a different part of his body every day.
“Every week, I change exercises,” he said. “I do different exercises for my lower and upper body. Once a week, I have Shain’s day and do whatever I want.”
Shain’s had to buy new clothes, of course—because he’s trimmed down so much. He feels so much better and his health is so much better. He no longer needs blood pressure or cholesterol medicine. “No longer, I’m not on any of it,” he says proudly.
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ENERGIZED AT AGE 62: Debi Joined the Rec-Plex to Gain a Stronger, Better Life
St. Peters Rec-Plex member Debi Needham says she used to be a couch potato. She smoked. And, she started gaining weight rapidly due to a thyroid problem.
She took her grandchildren to a pool one day three years ago, and she didn’t have the strength to pull herself up the ladder to get out of the water.
“That was it,” Debi says. “I came and got a full-time Rec-Plex membership, because I want to be the grandmother who plays with the kids! I don’t want to sit on the sidelines.”
To start on her new path to fitness, Debi quit smoking and took a few classes at the Rec-Plex. Her first class—a Body Bar aerobics class—was hard for her because she didn’t realize how out of shape she had gotten. She also tried Zumba. Then, she worked in Deep Water aqua aerobics.
In time, the strength came, and so did the results. After three years, Debi is down 30 pounds and several dress sizes. At age 62, she says she feels stronger than she has in decades. “I just feel so much better,” she says.
Nowadays, Debi is at the Rec-Plex seven to eight times a week. She takes a variety of classes, including Kettlebell—something she never dreamed she could do three years ago. “I’m so grateful that the Rec-Plex has so many different offerings,” Debi says.
Debi has a GOLD PLUS membership because the premium pass provides extra value with a number of free fitness classes. "I found it to be a much better value. I actually save money!" she said.
Having an under-productive thyroid makes it harder for Debi to lose weight. Instead of setting a lot of short-term goals, she keeps a watchful eye on her calorie count using a free app available online at MyFitnessPal.com. Debi only sets one major fitness goal each year. Last year, for her 25th anniversary, her husband took her to France to tour Mont Saint-Michel, a legendary monastery off the Normandy coast. The trip was a dream for Debi, who used to teach French and English at St. Charles and St. Charles West high schools. Her goal was to have the strength to walk up 323 stone steps leading to the monastery—something not everyone in her tour group could do. She completed the steep climb in a driving rainstorm.
“I made it all the way up. I did the Rocky theme, you know,” Debi said, laughing.
Her husband, John, a cyclist, is very fit, Debi says. He’s proud of her fitness gains, and she appreciates that she can do more things with him now. But, she still can’t work out with John because he’s on another level of fitness. When her husband’s on a 100-mile bike ride, Debi’s burning calories at the Rec-Plex. She loves the support she receives from instructors and other members in Rec-Plex fitness classes.
“I could have never done this on my own,” she says.
If Debi’s in an exercise class where she can’t perform all of the movements, the Rec-Plex instructor will provide modifications to make sure that she can benefit from the class. “The instructors here are great people. They give you ways to succeed, and I like that,” Debi says.
In turn, when Debi sees a newcomer at the Rec-Plex, she reaches out to them because she remembers her first Body Bar class and how hard it was starting out.
“All of us will reach out to somebody new and let them know that the instructors will help you, that there’s modifications if you’re struggling,” Debi says.
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Grandparent Family Pass Allows Grandmother to Strengthen Her Heart & Her Bond with Her Grandkids
Bobbie Fish’s heart is in the right place.
As a grandmother, Bobbie takes her grandkids to the St. Peters Rec-Plex a few times a week so they can enjoy activities such as ice skating and swimming. As a heart surgery survivor, Bobbie needs to exercise for her health. She said that the Rec-Plex has all of the state-of-the-art fitness equipment that she needs.
“I had open heart surgery last year, so it’s really important that I keep up with the exercise now to keep my heart strong,” Bobbie says.
The Rec-Plex’s new Grandparent Family Pass makes it possible for Bobbie to spend more time with her grandkids in a place where everybody can have fun and get healthier. This membership provides the same benefits as the Rec-Plex’s regular Family Pass, but allows grandparents to sign up their grandkids, no matter whether they live with them or not.
Izzy, 10, and Rachel, 14, love skating and swimming at the Rec-Plex, and Grandma has fun watching them. She takes the girls to the Rec-Plex a few times a week, and comes back a few more times a week for her own workouts.
Bobbie purchased a Grandparent Family Pass last fall after she finished her cardiac rehab program at a local hospital. “I knew that I had to continue with an exercise program, and I was trying to decide whether to stay at the hospital or come here to the Rec-Plex when I found out about the Grandparent Family Pass. That definitely made my decision so I could bring the grandkids to enjoy all of the skating and swimming. I love to watch them skate and swim. And, I use the cardio room and work out on the weight equipment,” Bobbie said.
Bobbie’s grandson, Tyler, 17, says that his Grandma deserves a place where she can work on her health.
“She does so much for us and puts a lot of time and effort into helping raise us. This is a good thing that she really deserves,” Tyler said.
Izzy is learning how to ice skate in classes and sharpening those skills in public ice skating sessions free to Rec-Plex members.
Rachel says, “I think it’s really cool because we can all hang out together, and be fit and stay healthy at the same time.”
Grandma says she enjoys “getting to watch the kids and spend more time with them. I’ve really enjoyed watching Izzy learn how to ice skate. That’s been fun.”
“I like hanging out here with her,” Izzy says of her Grandma.
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FOX 2 Morning Shows Air Live from the Rec-Plex
Feb. 1, 2013
We welcomed the FOX 2 morning
news team to the St. Peters Rec-Plex on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, to air parts of its morning
broadcast. News personalities filed a
number of reports from the Rec-Plex, including topics about St.
Peters, area businesses, our award-winning recycling program and the
"Home of the Champions," the St. Peters Rec-Plex. The Ft. Zumwalt East
marching band gave a special welcome to FOX 2.
Watch some FOX 2 videos from the Rec-Plex:
Here are some of our photos of FOX 2's morning news team airing live from the Rec-Plex:
Mayor Len Pagano talks to FOX 2 about the great quality of life in St. Peters, the City of St. Peters being named one of Money Magazine's "Top 100 Best Places to Live," and new jobs and businesses coming to St. Peters.
Margie Ellisor and Kevin Steincross broadcast live on the deck of the pool in the Natatorium.
The FOX 2 team interviews some St. Peters businesses in the Natatorium. Here, they talk to On the Blocks Aquatics. Members of the Rec-Plex Sharks swim team were also featured.
Lil' Mickey's Memphis Barbeque and Cakes by Georgia show off their tasty food for FOX 2.
Angie Mock, Kevin Steincross, Tim Ezell and Margie Ellisor speak with the St. Peters Spirits hockey club on the Rec-Plex ice.
Young members of the St. Peters Spirit hockey club take on the FOX 2 team in a short exhibition.
Angie Mock and Tim Ezell did a little workout in the gym with the U.S. Air Force, which uses the St. Peters Rec-Plex to train special forces recruits.
The St. Charles County Ambulance District and Tim Ezell, donned in his disco attire, show how CPR helps people with "Staying Alive."
St. Peters eatery Three Families Restaurant prepare their popular scallops dish in a demonstration at the Rec-Plex.
Mike's Bait, Tackle and Archery of St. Peters tried to teach Tim Ezell how to use a compound bow.
Tim Ezell, standing above the pool in the Natatorium bleachers, signs off from the Rec-Plex.
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Fun Aerobics Class Helped Rec-Plex Member Win Fitness Challenge
The Latin rhythms, the energy, the dance moves … just watching a Zumba class at the St. Peters Rec-Plex can get your heart pounding.
Actually working out in Zumba group aerobics for an entire hour? It will burn calories fast, and it will go by fast, says Linda Rueschhoff.
“Zumba feels more like playing than exercise, but when you leave, you are soaking wet, exhausted, and exhilarated!” Linda says.
With the help of Zumba, Linda has lost 20 pounds since she joined the Rec-Plex last March. She even won the “Biggest Loser” competition where she works at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital.
“I love to dance, so I thought I’d try the Zumba classes,” Linda says. “I discovered I loved them. It’s like no other exercise class I’ve done. It doesn’t feel like exercise, but you’re sweating like crazy by the time you’re finished.”
She loves her instructor, Robbie Niccum, who pumps up the music and leads the way with plenty of moves. Some songs are slower, some are faster … as Robbie explains, your car burns more fuel when it’s stopping and speeding up. She says your body does the same. How many calories do you burn during Zumba class? Robbie says 600 calories on average!
No wonder Zumba is one of the more popular Rec-Plex group aerobics classes offered FREE to Rec-Plex members. (Check the schedule for current classes.) All of the group aerobics classes give you a little more motivation to come work out. As Robbie says, “I think it’s hard to motivate yourself sometimes, so these classes are available free to Rec-Plex members, and it’s a commitment for that hour. You step in and you don’t want to leave. And you’re with other people who are going through it with you.”
For Robbie, though, Zumba is more than just an exercise routine. “It’s a party instead of a workout,” she says. “When you step into a Zumba class, all of your worries go away. No matter what you showed up with, you leave it at the door. Nobody can touch you for the hour, and you escape. And, when you leave, you’re smiling.”
Robbie (pictured at left with Linda) believes that Zumba changes lives. A stay-at-home mom with 6 children, Robbie discovered Zumba and says that it helped her “become a better Mom, a better wife, a better person. The benefits are amazing. It’s not just exercise. I don’t know what it is about Zumba, but it’s more than exercise. It changes lives. It really does.”
Linda would agree. In her position as a physical therapist at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, her patients would ask her if she exercised. Feeling overweight, and wanting to practice what she preached, she entered the hospital’s 12-week Biggest Loser competition for employees. She changed her diet and started working out at the Rec-Plex. Once she found Zumba classes at the Rec-Plex, she really started shedding the pounds—14 pounds to win the Biggest Loser challenge and 20 total as she continued with Zumba classes after the competition. Linda also works out in the Rec-Plex fitness room, using free weights and some of the state-of-the-art machines. She recommends Zumba classes and the Rec-Plex to her friends.
“The Rec-Plex is fabulous,” Linda says. “And, you get to know a lot of different types of people here. It’s a friendly atmosphere. Actually, I have a friend who started coming to Zumba because of me, and she’s joined the Rec-Plex. She’s lost 13 pounds. And, my husband who also is coming here has lost 65 pounds. It’s just fabulous.”
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Family Finds Success at Rec-Plex
Mom & Dad Lose Nearly 200 Pounds!
Shelly and Rand Scopel didn’t join the St. Peters Rec-Plex with the idea that within a couple years they’d be completing endurance runs and triathlons with the family. They just knew that they needed to get in better shape for their health.
“We have diabetes and heart disease in our family,” Shelly says. “Genetically, I’m kind of a disaster. I needed to do what I can to prevent it.”
And, that meant slimming down and building up their bodies. Shelly and Rand bought a GOLD PLUS Family Membership from the St. Peters Rec-Plex. Rand, Shelly and their kids, Sam, 18, Spenser, 17, and Annelyse, 16, are all now fixtures at the Rec-Plex.
The kids work out regularly and stay fit for their sports. Mom and Dad? They changed their diet and started working out at the Rec-Plex on a regular basis. Shelly’s lost 130 pounds. Rand’s lost nearly 70 pounds. The kids say they are proud of their parents.
Sam, asked about his Mom’s success, bluntly says that he doesn’t think that she could have run 25 yards when she started working out at the Rec-Plex. Now, she’s completing endurance events.
“I’m super proud of her,” Sam says. “And, I’m so happy for her. She can do the things that she wants to do now. And, it’s important because of the diabetes and heart disease in our family.”
Shelly’s track to fitness started with fitness classes that come free with the Rec-Plex GOLD PLUS membership. She lost her first 100 pounds while doing Kettlebell classes, which offer a combination of cardio and strength training. She moved on to RPX Cycling classes on the SPINNING® bikes. And, soon she met people who were involved in a local triathlon group that trains at the Rec-Plex and on surrounding trails. Plus, she joined a local cycle team as well as a running club. Shelly has completed four triathlons this year, including the Rec-Plex’s Spring and Fall Triathlons.
“I started with the fitness classes, and it just grew from there. I’ve met so many friends, so many positive people. The more people that you meet here, the more things that you do,” Shelly says.
For Shelly, the Rec-Plex is much more than a gym or a place to work out, it’s a community of people who want to just “be better.”
“It’s all ages and fitness levels,” she says. “I share a lane with a swimmer who some days I think is part dolphin, while a few lanes down, another swimmer is lowered into the pool on a lift. Being there at the Rec-Plex is a constant source of inspiration and a way to challenge yourself daily to be better.”
Rand’s path back to fitness was a little different. He started working out in the Rec-Plex’s 3,500-square-foot weight room five times a week. He’s been lifting weights on and off since college, but had gotten away from it for too long. He and Shelly decided to work on their diet together, and eventually their exercise plans crossed paths, too. They started Spinning together, and soon Rand also trained for endurance events.
“I think we kind of jumped into this differently and were doing some different stuff. Eventually, we just started doing more and more stuff together,” Rand said.
Shelly says, “It’s great to have someone doing a fitness routine with you. It reinforces it.”
In fact, the entire Scopel family completed a number of area endurance events together this year. Rand and Spenser joined Shelly in the Rec-Plex Fall Triathlon. Family members have run some 5K events together, and in October Shelly, Rand, Sam and Annelyse ran the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in St. Louis.
Sam and Spenser, who both play rugby, often lift weights with their Dad at the Rec-Plex. Annelyse, who plays soccer, takes advantage of the 4,500-square-foot cardio room.
And, they all can swim in the Rec-Plex’s Olympic-size Natatorium.
“I think the Rec-Plex is a great facility. It has a lot to offer,” Rand said.
“Ånd, it has a lot for all of us,” Shelly said.
Sam agreed: “They (his parents) were looking to lose weight, and they were able to do what they needed to do here at the Rec-Plex. And, we (teens) were able to find something here for us. There’s something for the entire family to do.”
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Staying Fit during the Holidays
It’s that time of year when you can get really busy and stressed. Holiday gatherings, shopping, kids’ activities, deadlines … it’s easy to let yourself go and put off your fitness goals until that magical stroke of midnight signaling a New Year.
Rather than chancing weight gain during the holidays, have you considered getting a jump on your resolutions now? The St. Peters Rec-Plex can help you get started early on your “Rec-Solution.” The climate-controlled Rec-Plex offers a variety of fitness options that can help you keep off weight through the holiday season and entire winter season. (Learn more below.)
With any good fitness routine, you need to balance both diet and exercise. To help you stay on track this holiday season, we offer some fitness tips from Rebecca Lanctot, a certified personal trainer and registered dietician at the St. Peters Rec-Plex:
1) Eat the same. Don’t look at the holidays as an excuse to let your diet go. Commit to a healthy, balanced diet plan year-round. “As far as nutrition during the holidays, I try to tell people to just try to eat relatively the same as they would eat on any other day,” Rebecca said.
2) Eat a snack before a party. If you know you’re going to a party with lots of tempting foods, Rebecca suggests having a bite to eat beforehand so you won’t be so hungry when you get there.
3) Survey the buffet. “If you’re going to try different foods, then just try a little bit of everything instead of loading up a lot on a couple of things and then wanting to go back and try more,” Lanctot said. “Survey the buffet, choose little bit of a couple of things, then come back and take a little more.”
4) Make appointments for your workouts. Who has a lot of extra time, especially during the holidays? Rebecca says make appointments for exercise, the same as anything else that’s important. “If you don’t have a whole hour, maybe you can do a half hour or 20 minutes a couple times a day,” she said. “I always tell people with fitness — whether it’s around the holidays or not — to make an appointment for their workout. If you’re making scheduled plans for all the social gatherings during the holidays, make sure to do that with your workout. It increases your compliance.”
5) Find accountability. This is Rebecca’s No. 1 tip: Use the buddy system to make yourself accountable. Work out with a friend, or with a personal trainer, or at group fitness classes. The bottom line is that you’ll be more likely to work out if other people are expecting you to show up.
The St. Peters Rec-Plex offers a wide variety of activities to help you keep fit. Work on cardio and weight training in the 8,000-square-foot fitness area, burn calories using adult swim lanes, walk or run on the indoor track newly improved with a rubberized surface, play basketball or volleyball in the gym, get moving in public ice skating sessions and more. We also have nationally certified personal trainers who know just how to help you reach your fitness goals.
All Rec-Plex members have access to FREE group aerobics classes. GOLD PLUS members also get a number of FREE select classes, including Kettlebell and RPX Cycling on Spinning® bikes, plus FREE Tot Drop service to watch your kids while you work out, FREE ice skate rentals and more.
Learn more about memberships at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
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The Rec-Plex Helps You Try a ‘Tri’
April 3, 2012
Bill Sanders was running on a St. Peters park trail near his home one early Sunday morning last spring when he noticed he was in the middle of a whole pack of runners wearing athletic gear.
Who were these people? Was this a race?
Bill found out later that he wandered into the St. Peters Rec-Plex Spring Triathlon.
“I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if they have these for old, slow people.’ I started researching, and I found out that they do!” Bill said.
The Rec-Plex offers both a Spring Triathlon and Fall Triathlon. And, in between, during the cold months, the Rec-Plex offers a series of indoor events called the Indoor Triathlon Challenge, which can help veteran triathletes prepare for the coming season and, yes, introduce newcomers to the world of triathlons.
After losing 56 pounds and getting off blood pressure and cholesterol meds, Bill looked forward to a fitness regimen that would keep him healthy for decades to come. He started with the Indoor Triathlon Challenge, with plans to enter some outdoor events this spring, including St. Peters’ first-ever Race to Recycling Duathlon on April 28 and the annual Spring Triathlon on June 17.
“It’s a very low-key friendly environment,” Bill said of the Rec-Plex’s indoor triathlons. “It’s a great way to get started.”
Michael Bennett would agree with Bill. Having lost 140 pounds in the past year primarily through biking and diet, Michael started the Rec-Plex Indoor Triathlon series in December. He said he wanted to stretch himself, and he was pleased to find a very supportive atmosphere at the indoor triathlons, from the Rec-Plex staff to the more seasoned triathletes.
“It’s been an attitude of, ‘Hey, good to see you again, how did you do last time?’ — rather than I’m going to kick your butt, or you’re going to eat my dust. It’s nothing like that at all,” Michael said. “It’s OK to show up, and it’s OK to suck at it, but I’m thrilled at just being able to finish.”
While Michael isn’t breaking Indoor Triathlon Challenge records, he’s getting better and better. “My time has improved every single time I’ve done it. And I couldn’t be more thrilled with that,” he said.
The competitors at the Rec-Plex Indoor Triathlon start in the indoor competition pool, move onto the Spinning® bikes, and finish running on treadmills. Like Michael, you could start with the indoor triathlon’s “short course” of 300 yards swimming, 10 miles biking, and 3 miles running. Then, after building up stamina, like Michael, you could move up to the long course—500 yards swimming, 15 miles biking, and 5 miles running.
By comparison, an outdoor triathlon is 500 yards swimming, 21 miles biking and 5 miles running. The only difference in distance between the indoor long course and full triathlon is six extra miles on the bike.
Michael, who in October completed a 50-mile bike ride on the Katy Trail, says that his first triathlon will be the Rec-Plex’s spring event. “There’s no way I would run it without these indoor triathlons. They’re confidence boosters,” Michael says.
Bill and Michael also are Rec-Plex members, giving them daily access to all of the equipment needed to help them gain strength and stamina between triathlon events.
Michael usually works on a combination of two of the triathlon events each time he works out.
Bill, a natural runner, has to work the most at swimming, but he appreciates the challenge. He’s gotten better in the water, winning some indoor triathlons in his 50-plus age class, and he’s avoiding some of the pounding that his body was taking when he was primarily running for exercise.
“The thing about this is that the whole cross-training thing is so much better for your body,” Bill says. “Burnout is not an option for me. I’m going to do this for the next 25 years or so.”
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Rec-Plex Member, 66, Builds Strength with Diving
April 3, 2012
Julian Bethel was swimming in the adult lap lanes in the Natatorium of the St. Peters Rec-Plex about a year-and-a-half ago when he noticed a group of divers, mostly school-aged, practicing on the diving boards. He was impressed with the Rec-Plex diving facilities and the diving practice he observed.
Julian approached Greg Triefenbach, coach of STL Diving club, to ask him if he could dive, too. The club welcomed Julian with open arms into its adult class program, and Julian is taking turns diving with college divers, high school state championship contenders and young kids learning the craft. He’s fulfilling a dream of his since he was in high school, and doing it with coaches and fellow diving club members who he says are a kind group of people.
“I’m 66 years old,” Julian says, “And, they have accepted me, and we get along great. That makes me feel better. I don’t want to impose myself into their activities. But, I’m accepted, and I can do it too, and I’m very happy that they’ve done that.”
Julian finds that diving builds your heart in a couple different ways. His cardiologist tells Julian that his health has improved greatly since he started diving. But, Julian says that diving helps build “heart” inside all of the divers at the Rec-Plex.
“I know that it’s helped me out a lot inside. And, I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot. It’s been surprising, the inner strength that you build up,” he said. “And, I’ve watched these youngsters come in here, and I’ve seen them grow, not height-wise, but within themselves and how they deal with things. That’s what you get from it.”
Another thing that Julian realized was that his posture has improved dramatically. The diving club works on exercises that build the core. New divers progress by first building up strength with exercises and learning diving technique on “dry land” practice facilities such as a trampoline and dry diving board that are equipped with harnesses.
“They work on the physical part,” Julian says. “These exercises they have you do are all good. You have to build up your abdominal muscles, your strength.”
Coach Greg Triefenbach says that he treats Julian like everyone else who dives for him. “They go on their own pace,” he says of his students. “Then, they get in the water and learn the sport.”
Greg says that diving is a great alternative for exercise. “For a lot of people, they don’t want to just sit on an exercise bike,” he says.
When it’s time to dive, Greg and his assistant coaches have a watchful eye, ready to bellow tips as soon as a diver comes up from the water.
Julian says, “They spot little things and tell you what to do to improve. It takes a good eye to spot this. That’s what impresses me, and the ability to communicate it. You have to know how to deal with people, too. So, they’re very adept at that.”
For Julian, diving isn’t just something he wanted to try, but something he plans to continue and refine in coming years. He’s grateful that the Rec-Plex has a great diving facility. He dives mostly off of the platforms at 1 meter, 3 meters and sometimes 5 and even 7 meters. He hasn’t tried the competition-level 10-meter board, but says he’s not afraid of diving off the platforms. He’s just trying to improve basic dives at this point.
“I kind of think my hurdles are better off the 1-meter than the 3-meter, but they’re getting there,” Julian said.
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U.S. Air Force Uses Rec-Plex to Train for Special Forces
On many days, the St. Peters Rec-Plex’s Natatorium is a place for families to play, aerobics students to get in shape, and swimmers to train. It’s a place where a number of young people have started their swim careers, some winning championships and earning college scholarships.
On this day at the St. Peters Rec-Plex, several men are swimming for a chance to be part of the United States Air Force’s elite special forces that help defend our country. These recruits are fighting pain and fatigue to complete a 500-yard swimming test in the deep end of the Natatorium’s 50-meter pool. It’s one of several tests they’ll have to pass this morning to get a chance to be part of one of the Air Forces’ top-line units as a combat controller, pararescueman, or part of the Special Operations Weather team.
Someday, these recruits may be asked to dive from a helicopter into choppy, freezing waters to rescue someone on the open sea. Or, maybe lead the way into hostile combat zones and call in airstrikes. Or, find downed air crew members, treat them and carry them to safety.
“This is training and testing for special forces—the top-line units in the Air Force,” says Lt. Col. Christopher Byrom, Commander of the Air Force’s 345 Recruiting Squadron. “It takes a special type of facility like the Rec-Plex to be able to do this.”
For the past two years, the Air Force has had an agreement with the Rec-Plex to train and test at its facilities once a week. The qualification test includes two 20-meter underwater swims and a 500-yard swim in the Natatorium, a 1-1/2-mile run at the Lutheran High School track next door, and then back to the Rec-Plex for two minutes each of sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups.
If they pass the qualification test and a follow-up verification test a couple months later, these recruits will report to Lackland Air Force Base for basic military training. In all, these recruits will have to train two years before they qualify to serve on Air Force special forces units.
Lt. Col. Byrom says that the Rec-Plex fits a critical need for the Air Force. The recruits need to complete the swimming tests in a deep-water pool with long lanes—and the Rec-Plex is only one of a few facilities in the region that has this type of indoor pool available year-round.
Air Force recruits are driving from as far away as 90 minutes to train and test at the Rec-Plex each week. On this day, a recruit from Paducah, Ky., is trying to pass the qualifying test.
“Lots of guys can run and pass the strength tests, but many have trouble in the pool,” Lt Col Byrom said. “Since we’ve been training here, we’ve seen tremendous improvement in swimming skills. A lot of American kids grow up without access to a pool like this. Because of the continual training here at the Rec-Plex, the scores of our recruits consistently improve. As a result, we’re sending more people to basic training and on to special operations careers.
“The program we run here is a model for special operations recruiting across the country, and the community support we receive is deeply appreciated. Local facilities like this make a real difference for America.”
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Local Mom Loses 100 lbs., Gains New Energy with ‘Amazing’ Kettlebell Class
Oct. 28, 2011
One bell-shaped piece of equipment, one classroom, so many benefits.
“It’s the greatest thing you guys have come up with,” Shelly Scopel says of Kettlebell class at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
Shelly, a local Mom of three and a practicing attorney, has shed 100 pounds in a year through kettlebell classes and diet. As Shelly puts it, “Doing kettlebell is very simple, it’s just not easy. It’s the beauty of a simple kettlebell swing that works your whole body. What they get into that one half-hour, it’s amazing.”
The kettlebell basically is a weighted ball with a handle. At the Rec-Plex, a professional trainer leads each class through a series of exercises moving the kettlebell in various ways, often swinging the ball to and fro. Because of the weight of the kettlebell and the constant motion, the exercise both strengthens muscles and boosts cardiovascular endurance, packing a wallop of a workout in a short period of time. All types of people can, and do, benefit from the class.
“Where else could you find a retired grandmother, a firefighter, a flight attendant, a 17-year-old varsity soccer player, and a Mom of three like myself all working out together and all sweating like crazy while (Rec-Plex trainers) cheer you on, saying, ‘You can do anything for 20 seconds!’” Shelly says.
She believes that the professional trainers at the Rec-Plex who teach the class “truly, truly are the best. They make it easy to understand. Every class is different. It’s never the same class twice.”
Beginner classes are required for anyone who doesn’t have experience exercising with the kettlebell. There, you’ll learn the techniques and skills needed to safely move on to the faster-paced Kettlebell class at the Rec-Plex. Morning, evening and weekend classes are available.
For Shelly, all of her Kettlebell classes are no extra charge, because her family has a Rec-Plex GOLD PLUS membership. Kettlebell is one of a number of FREE classes available to all GOLD PLUS members.
Shelly’s putting to good use the extra energy she’s gained with kettlebell. She enjoys backpacking with her family and stays active with her three teen kids, all soccer players. “That’s the other beauty about kettlebell: it increases endurance and fitness, so I can keep up with those three. Otherwise, I’d be sitting at home while they were out doing stuff,” she said.
A Kettlebell class schedule can be found on the Rec-Plex Classes & Programs web page.
Kettlebell classes require advance registration—you don’t have to be a Rec-Plex member to take Kettlebell. Register online using Rec-Connect.
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GOLD PLUS Member Trims Down and Does Triathlon
Sept. 1, 2011
Maybe you’re like Mark Shaffer—in good shape once upon a time, perhaps even an athlete. Then, after high school, life happens, you’re raising a family, and you gain weight.
“I played water polo from 8th grade all the way through high school,” says Mark, 33, now a father of three. “I was 164 pounds, 6-foot-2, and a real bean pole when I graduated. But, then the metabolism slowed down and my weight made the slow crawl up.”
Mark, a resident of St. Peters, tried starting a workout routine from time to time, but found that the distractions at home made it difficult—and chronic knee pain was problematic. For Christmas in 2009, Mark gave his family a St. Peters Rec-Plex GOLD PLUS membership. He weighed 280 pounds at the time.
“I wasn’t happy with my weight gain. I decided to make a legitimate run at making changes in my life—living better, eating better, setting a better example for my kids,” Mark recalls.
By using the Rec-Plex’s facilities and some of the free classes available to GOLD PLUS members, Mark has lost 55 pounds so far, feels much better about himself and even completed the 2011 Rec-Plex Spring Triathlon. The triathlon is an endurance event where competitors swim 500 meters at the Rec-Plex, bike 21 miles along flat farmland, and run 5 miles through City parks. Mark tried some of the Rec-Plex’s Indoor Triathlons during the winter to help him prepare. (Learn more about Rec-Plex Triathlons.)
“The Rec-Plex has been a great, great help for me,” Mark says. “I know that if I’m going to get myself up and go there, I’m going to make use of my time and work hard. The staff has also been helpful and encouraging.”
Mark’s family came to cheer him on at his first triathlon, making for some special memories. While running through Covenant Park, Mark slowed down to grab a drink at a water station and soon found his 6-year-old son, Hayden, running with him. “He ran with me along the whole loop of Covenant Park. It made it that much more special,” Mark said.
When he joined the Rec-Plex, Mark started by meeting with a Rec-Plex personal trainer who introduced him to the fitness facilities and encouraged him to find the types of activities that would work for him. (Learn more about Rec-Plex personal trainers.)
Because of his knee problems, Mark sought low-impact exercise such as swimming laps at the indoor pool, using the elliptical cardio machine and riding Spinning bikes in RPX Cycling classes. He also added Kettlebell classes to his routine for a full-body workout. “There’s not another half-hour workout that has ever come close to Kettlebell,” Mark says. (Learn more about Rec-Plex fitness classes.)
RPX Cycling and Kettlebell are both free to GOLD PLUS members. His wife, Tara, and Hayden also have taken classes that are free to GOLD PLUS members. And, the GOLD PLUS membership allows the family to use the Tot Drop babysitting service for free when both parents have a class together.
Now that he’s down to 225 pounds, Mark says he’s getting greedy and wants to lose more weight. He’s going to enter various race events and has goals to run a half-marathon in 2012 and a marathon in 2013—and a grueling Ironman Triathlon by the time he reaches 40.
“It’s totally a change in perspective,” Mark says. “I look for ways I can get activity in now. For any task, I ask how can I do this with my bike? When I’m grocery shopping, I’m thinking more health-conscious. It’s a complete 180 in perspective from where I was 1-1/2 years ago.”
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Getting Fit with a Little Help from a Friend
(Training Sessions with a Friend)
April 28, 2011
Of all the activities you could plan with a friend, getting in shape
might be the most lasting and meaningful. Melissa McKay (left) and Julie Sostak (right) are feeling better and stronger after taking advantage of the
St. Peters Rec-Plex’s Training Sessions with a Friend.
“For us, it is an advantage, because we know each other well enough
that we push each other a lot,” Melissa said. “There would probably be
a lot of times, if either one of us was by ourselves, we wouldn’t go.”
The two women have met twice a week with a certified personal trainer at the Rec-Plex for the past few months. They found that Training Sessions with a Friend are a great deal—not just because it cost them almost half the price of one-on-one sessions, but also because working out together keeps them motivated.
“It’s working out great,” Julie said. “It’s been helpful to have a workout partner, because it keeps you more motivated. There’s someone else to be accountable to.”
Melissa and Julie are Rec-Plex GOLD PLUS members who already did a lot
of cardio exercise together at the Rec-Plex, whether in the cardio room
or running on the indoor track or in fitness classes like Kettlebell or
RPX Cycling—classes that are FREE to GOLD PLUS members. But, they just
didn’t know how to tackle the weight room. “We didn’t know a lot about
the strength training machines, or know how to put together a routine
that would work out all of our muscles,” Melissa said.
This is where personal trainer Sarah Juden (center, in photo) comes in. Sarah says that Melissa and Julie were doing well on their own with cardio exercise, but that doing only cardio without strength training can actually weaken the body. “When you do cardio all the time, and don’t mix in the strength training, you tend to burn a lot of muscle, and you lose more muscle that way. So, it’s important to mix the two together,” Sarah said.
Sarah said that Melissa and Julie have really come a long way in their
training. “It’s really neat to see them gain this much strength,” she
The two friends said that Sarah keeps the workouts interesting and fun. “She mixes it up, and keeps you guessing,” Melissa said. “The fact that we don’t know what’s going to happen makes the hour fly by.”
The bottom line is that both Melissa and Julie feel better about themselves.
Julie said, “We definitely wanted to lose some pounds—that was a fringe benefit—but we wanted to feel better and get more active. And, we’ve done that.”
If you’re considering Training Sessions with a Friend, Sarah suggests that you work out with someone who is at a similar fitness level. Of course, your schedules also will have to match up. Melissa and Julie credit Sarah for having a flexible schedule to match theirs.
Learn more about personal training at the Rec-Plex, includng fees, in the latest issue of the LEISURE LINE recreation and arts guide.
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Rec-Plex Member is the ‘BIGGEST WINNER!’
Jan. 25, 2011
Sarah Brook was no fan of the gym until she joined the St. Peters Rec-Plex. Now, she is the “BIGGEST WINNER of St. Charles County.”
As a new regular at the Rec-Plex, Sarah slimmed down her body weight by
11.9% to win the first-ever BIGGEST WINNER of St. Charles County
challenge offered by BJC HealthCare, Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital
and Progress West HealthCare Center. A total of 425 people countywide
entered the program for a chance to win prizes.
Sarah used the Rec-Plex’s expanded cardio and strength training rooms, FREE aerobics classes and aqua aerobics to help her lose 32 pounds in just 12 weeks.
“It made me feel really good,” Sarah said about winning—and losing weight.
Sarah, her father, Charles, and her stepmother, Debra, were looking for a
way to get fit together when they read about the BIGGEST WINNER of St.
Charles County challenge in a local newspaper. They entered as a family,
and Sarah joined the Rec-Plex, where Charles and Debra were already
“I always used to say, ‘I hate the gym!’” Sarah said. “I’ve gone from not doing any workouts at all to sometimes doing two workouts in a day.”
The great news is that Sarah continued to keep up her workout routine
after the contest ended. Sarah is a big fan of the Rec-Plex’s Zumba and
Hip-Hop group fitness classes, which are part of the monthly session of
aerobics classes available FREE to Rec-Plex members. She also takes
some aqua aerobics classes. And, on days she doesn’t have a class, Sarah
takes advantage of a variety of state-of-the-art equipment in the
Rec-Plex’s expansive cardio and strength training rooms. Sarah also
watches her calorie intake in a style similar to the Weight Watchers
“I was actually really surprised when I won,” Sarah says. “I knew that I had been doing well, and I knew that I had been losing a lot of weight, but I was surprised I was the winner.”
Sarah won a two-night stay at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, a $100 gift certificate to use at the Chase, and a $75 Visa gift card for her use at a downtown venue.
Karen Prideaux, a spokesperson for Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, said that the BIGGEST WINNER of St. Charles County challenge is part of BJC HealthCare’s efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and to combat obesity.
Karen says she was impressed that Sarah’s family joined together as part of a family exercise. “That support system,” says Prideaux, “is really important.”
The BIGGEST WINNER of St. Charles County contest is open to all adults 18 or over who live in St. Charles County. Participants weigh in weekly at one of a number of locations throughout the county, including the Rec-Plex and branches of the St. Charles City-County Library District. Weigh-ins showed that the 425 people who joined the first challenge lost a combined 1,563 pounds. Learn more about the program at www.bjsph.org.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE REC-PLEX.
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Variety Spices Up the Rec-Plex
From the Summer 2010 issue of St. Peters' Leisure Line recreational & cultural events guide
Kevin Hermann doesn’t want the same exact workout each and every day. This is why the St. Peters Rec-Plex is perfect for him.
“You’ve got all kinds of options, depending on what kind of day you’re having, depending on what you’re wanting to do,” Kevin says.
Kevin may work out on weight equipment or cardio machines. If he wants to take stress off his joints, he’ll use an elliptical machine in the cardio room. Or, he may want to head to the pool and swim laps.
“When I had shin splints, I’d use the elliptical. Or, I’d go swimming to take the wear and tear off my knees,” says the St. Charles resident.
Kevin also works out with a personal trainer, takes fitness classes and tries new things—like this winter, when he completed several Indoor Triathlons at the Rec-Plex.
Variety is what spices up your workout at the Rec-Plex. There’s plenty to do for individuals and families alike.
Jason and Kim Sallee of St. Charles have found plenty of classes to fit their needs and even a fitness class perfect for their 6-year-old daughter Paige. The Sallees purchased the Rec-Plex GOLD PLUS membership, which provides all the benefits of an annual pass plus plenty of FREE fitness classes and other programs, FREE Tot Drop babysitting, and FREE ice skate rentals, plus discounts on golf.
“I like the flexibility,” Jason says of the Rec-Plex. “I like the different options for classes and different times for classes, and the different variety of activities in general. Depending on what you’re looking for, there’s usually something here that fits the bill.”
Jason and Kim each take Kettlebell and Rec-Plex Xtreme Cycling classes. Kim has also taken aerobics (including aqua aerobics) and a Power Yoga class that she loves. Paige, meanwhile, has taken swim lessons at the Rec-Plex, and Mom says Paige loves her Exer-FUN class, which was created for ages 5-8.
“I go most days,” Kim says. “The Rec-Plex offers a lot of variety for anybody. It offers so many options it would match anyone’s interest, skill or ability.”
Cindy Deutsch of St. Peters works out regularly in the Rec-Plex’s group fitness classes and fitness rooms. She loves the variety of Rec-Plex classes, top-notch equipment and friendly staff.
Also a GOLD PLUS member, Cindy says, “I do basically everything—Rec-Plex Xtreme Cycling, Kettlebell class, a private trainer, lifting weights, using the cardio room. I take a lot of aerobics classes. I started doing Yoga, and Power Pilates is really great.”
Cindy has relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis and says that “exercise helps me to live a normal life.” Her healthy, active lifestyle at the Rec-Plex also helped her quit smoking after 38 years.
“There is a lot to choose from at the Rec-Plex,” Cindy says. “Plus, all the encouragement, help and support you get from both staff and other members is fantastic.”
It’s this welcoming nature that drew St. Charles resident Tim Lange to the Rec-Plex for a big transformation in his life. Within a year he lost an astounding 230 pounds. In addition to a regimented diet, Tim took advantage of the Rec-Plex’s workout facilities and a Rec-Plex personal trainer.
"Primarily, I use the cardio room and weight room. I use the track a lot, too. Occasionally, I swim laps in the pool, and I just try to mix it up a bit,” Tim says. “There is always something you can do.”
When he started his membership at the Rec-Plex in January 2009, Tim didn’t know how to use the equipment, but he says Rec-Plex staffers were friendly and helpful. With the help of personal trainer sessions, Tim was able to complete a half-marathon in September 2009.
“I’ve made a lot of progress,” Tim says. “I’m making changes to live a better life.”
Learn more about membership options at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
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