A workout that works | SkyHiNews.com

A workout that works

by Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

I have been an on and off fitness junky my entire life.

I’ll go through phases: Three months of running, two months of ice cream, one week of nonstop running, and some push-ups in between.

I’ve taken kickboxing, aerobics, pilates. I even attempted some type of disco dancing class that went horribly wrong. Most classes I grew bored with, or never went back to because I was too embarrassed.

But I’ve finally found a class that keeps me going back. Two and a half years later, I still find myself rearranging my schedule so I can attend at least once a week. The class combines weight training and cardio, and it’s taught by Granby resident, Michele Snow.

When you first meet Snow, you wonder what kind of torture she’s going to put your body through. Her sculpted arms and petite, athletic figure automatically send a red flag. Am I going to like this class? Is she going to have one of those super-annoying aerobics-instructor voices?

But after 15 minutes, the only thing you’re wondering about is if you’ll be able to drive home later. Because Snow doesn’t mess around. She pushes you. She challenges you. She’s 42 years old and doesn’t act or look a day over 30.

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And, no, she doesn’t have a super annoying voice. It’s energetic and fun, and if she sees you slacking off she’ll give you the look ” followed by a sweet smile ” and explain to the class that if you’re not pushing yourself, you’re not going to see results.

The “results” are what keeps most women coming back, but they also enjoy the camaraderie.

When I first started taking classes with Snow back in the spring of 2006, there were six to eight women crammed into the Tabernash warehouse. Snow had just moved to Granby from Denver with her family, and was asked to take the place of an instructor who was ill. Eventually, the class moved into the gym at East Grand Elementary School, where we used benches and walls, did sits ups and pushups, and sweat until our bodies couldn’t move.

Today, there are roughly 20 to 30 women in every class, and Snow teaches six classes a week at the Community Center in Granby. Through the Granby Recreation Department, she was able to order more equipment as the class grew more popular ” yoga mats, dumbbells, handweights, athletic benches ” all the devices needed to keep the body trim and fit.

While some members come and go, most of the women in Snow’s class are regulars.

For many, it is an empowering social hour. Friends push each other, and laugh at themselves when their arms start to shake. They keep each other motivated, and realize they can do things they never thought they could do before.

Lori Damon, a 46-year-old woman who lives behind SilverCreek, started coming to

the class one year ago and is one of the most dedicated members. A self-employed graphic artist, her flexible schedule allows her to attend class four days a week.

Those who know Damon have watched her transform her body into a lean, athletic machine. A mother of three children, she said she became unhappy with her figure one day and decided to do something about it. Now, she’s the fittest she has ever been in her life, she said.

“I turned around one day and said, ‘Who are you?'” said Damon, a tall woman with short, cropped hair and a genuine smile. “You catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and think ‘Whoa. Is that my mom?'”

Snow’s class, Damon added, has empowered her to take her body back. Although she won’t reveal numbers, she has lost a lot of weight.

“I didn’t let myself go, but I was sliding through life. This gives you a goal, to remain strong,” she said. “To live up here, you have to be a strong person.”

Snow, who herself has two children, hates the stigma out there about women over 40.

“So often you hear people say once you hit 40 you gain 10 pounds per decade. The sad thing is, people give themselves up to these forces,” Snow said. “It doesn’t have to be like that.”

Snow also had her struggles. She gained some extra weight during her second pregnancy, and afterward went on a running kick that took a toll on her body. She decided to take some classes at a gym, and became hooked. She started attending every class, and one day the owner asked Snow if he could train her to be an instructor. She began to learn various techniques, including Tae Kwon Do, “boot camps” and weight training.

Snow has a bachelor’s degree in design and merchandise, and she carries a master’s in business. Although she has other jobs on the side, her Granby fitness class “is the greatest job ever,” because she gets to share her love for exercise. The class is a mix of everything she’s learned over the past 10 years, and she strives to keep it interesting. When it’s sunny, she takes the participants outside for a run or sprint, and indoor activities include kickboxing, suicides, mountain climbers (don’t ask), abs, lunges and weight lifting.

Monotony kills a workout, so Snow strives to keep things interesting; she likes to challenge the body and the mind.

“I’m always trying to make it different. I know what it’s like ” to go to a class that has the same CD, the same warm up,” she said. “Your body adapts so quickly. (If you don’t vary your work-out), you’re never going to gain more muscle.”

Resistance, Snow added, is “huge.” After the age of 30, women begin to lose muscle and bone mass, she explained, but weight training helps increase both. It also burns more calories over an extended period of time, when done correctly. When Snow leads her class, many women are pushing themselves to the limit, sweating, heart pounding, grimacing into the mirror and laughing afterwards.

If Snow’s class sounds like a torture chamber, it isn’t. People of all ages participate ” from 14 to 70 something ” and participants can push themselves as hard as they want to.

To see results, however, you have to stick with it; it does take dedication. But the benefits outweigh everything else. Just one workout can relieve stress and elevate your mood and energy. That’s key for Grand County’s long winters, and for people like me who need some help staying motivated.

Most importantly, you are setting yourself up for the future, Snow said.

“I’m middle-aged. There are so many things I want to do,” she said. “Who would want to set themselves up for aches and pains when they’re older?”

” To reach Stephanie Miller call 887-3334 ext. 19601 or e-mail smiller@grandcountynews.com.

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