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Body and Soul

(page 3 of 5)

Working Up A Sweat

Local fitness trends from Jane Fonda to Kettlebells

Pilates has taken the fitness scene to a whole new level. Here Zenergy members are on the robar Pilates machine. Photo by  Jane McCann courtesy of Zenergy.













From the sweatband-clad step aerobics and Jazzercise workouts of yesteryear, to the booming popularity of Pilates, yoga and CrossFit, fitness trends are an important part of the exercise vernacular, especially in active mountain towns like Ketchum and Hailey. Throughout the years, fitness trends have steamrolled their way into immense popularity, only to seemingly fall off the mat, never to be heard from again. So we talked to a few local aficionados to learn more about the history of the fitness scene in Sun Valley.

Margie Caldwell Cooper has seen her fair share of fitness trends; she’s been in the business since the days of leg warmers and Jane Fonda workouts. During the early ’80’s in the Valley, she taught group exercises in a garage in the Ketchum industrial park on double-padded carpet over concrete, which Margie says is a “sure-fire recipe for shin splints!” Margie started teaching classes at the Sun Valley Athletic Club soon after it was built in 1984 and has remained a prominent figure in the local fitness industry. 

Spin classes became very popular in the early 2000s. Photo by Cody Doucette courtesy of Zenergy.From those days of high impact jumping and lunging, the fitness world has steadily evolved. As Margie explains, “We began to connect with the body and its need to move rhythmically and we needed a fun factor. So we dressed up and used current popular music during the step classes of the ’90’s.” Move on to now, and Margie explains that fusion classes, which blend Eastern and Western styles, are more holistic and have become popular. “We make sure people not only stretch, but do cardio, strength, meditate and add healing modalities to their routines,” she says.  

 Margie teaches Pilates and yoga and calls these fitness styles “balance training exercises” that work the deep core muscles. She says that those trends which foster the mind/body connection, like Pilates and yoga, have staying power in that “they help people to focus and connect not only with themselves, but with the immediate environment, which means fewer stimuli from media, screens, cell phones and noise in general.” Margie says that she, along with the current industry, is more focused on a moderate approach, “one with less high-intensity training, but that includes all the aspects
of fitness.”  

Yoga became the hot workout  at the turn of the century with body-balancing poses designed to reinforce strength and alignment like this one performed by local instructor Beth Stuart. Photo by Ashley Nicole Photography courtesy Beth Stuart.Along with the quieting trends like Pilates, another newer popular fitness movement is anything but quiet. CrossFit, which now has specialized gyms in Hailey and Ketchum, is focused on strength and high-intensity, full-body exercises. CrossFit started in 2000 in California, when videos showing athletes doing unthinkably difficult workouts went viral. Since then, over 2,000 CrossFit studios have opened up throughout the country. Alex Margolin is a local CrossFit instructor and a trainer with more than 27 years of experience. “CrossFit gyms are amazing instructional facilities where members of the gym get top-notch coaching in a variety of movements such as barbell and Olympic lifting, kettlebells, basic gymnastics, body weight exercise and more,” Alex explains, adding, “the beauty of a CrossFit gym is that if you show up regularly, you will get the best fitness results of your life.”  

Margie Caldwell Cooper poses for her video “Idaho Local’s Workout” in 1989. Courtesy photo.As for whether CrossFit has staying power or is just another passing workout fad, Alex says, “I believe Crossfit is more than just a trend. It focuses not only on high intensity, interval-type training, which is beneficial because, when done right, you can get an intense workout done in an hour, but it also promotes a supportive, community-driven environment that focuses on nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.”  

Regardless of the fitness trends, exercise in general seems to be the Wood River Valley’s real “movement.” Jason Fry, CEO of the Wood River YMCA, explains, “I see people who train regularly just so they’re better equipped to prevent injury or perform at a higher level in their ‘real’ sport, which is often skiing, biking, hiking or running.” Jason proves to be a welcome voice of reason in this crazy world of fitness trending. “I often say that fitness is like brushing your teeth; a little bit everyday will keep things shiny and bright. The fact is,” he says, “that fitness as a whole is not a trend or fad. It is something that’s critical to maintaining a healthy, well-balanced life.” Amen to that! -Margot Ramsay



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