CONWAY — There’s nothing quite like starting your day by riding a broom to the "Monster Mash" playing in the background.
That’s exactly what adults in Frann Ravid’s Morning Medley adult fitness class at the Conway Parks and Recreation Department did Wednesday in a special Halloween workout in their second-to-last class this session.
Taking place in the Marshall Gymnasium in Conway Rec’s new home within Kennett Middle School, the adult fitness class has been everything Director John Eastman hoped for.
“It’s been great,” Eastman said by phone Wednesday. “Frann is outstanding. Being a former (middle) school teacher, she connects really well with people. I’ve gotten a lot of really positive comments from people in the class, they love it.”
Eastman added: “With the facility we now have, we want this to be a true community center. I believe there is a need for adults to get out and exercise here in the valley. We had good numbers for the first session and are hoping for even more with the next one.”
Eighteen adults took part in the first session, which ran for five weeks with classes meeting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:15-10:15 a.m. The cost was $30 per person for the session.
The second session, which will run for six weeks (17 classes), Nov. 4 to Dec. 18 (Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:15-10:15 a.m.), is also $30.
“This is for all ages as long as you are an adult, and all fitness levels, too,” said Ravid, who is a certified group instructor by the American Council on Exercise, and lives in Center Conway. “I’ve not been a trainer for a long time but I’ve been a longtime participant. I got certified this summer by the American Council on Exercise. I did it so I could start this program.
“I thought that there was a need and I started working on ways that I could be helpful in that,” she continued. “I needed a place. I had seen articles in the Sun about the renovation here and about John.
"I told him my idea and he gave me this space. It was amazing. It was just like it was meant to be. When I saw this space, it’s a beautiful space with an inspiring story, so where else would you want to work out?
Ravid said there are Kennett High graduates in her program who fondly remember the gym from their school years, and one even played basketball in the gym.
“It’s been interesting to hear their stories,” she said.
Last year, Conway voters approved moving the rec center to the unused portion of the middle school and spending $700,000 on renovations, including restoring an old gym built in the 1930s. At a $1-per-year lease, the department took over roughly 22,000 square feet, or 13 percent of the 173,722-square-foot school building, in a section that was mothballed after Kennett High School moved to its new building 12 years ago.
Ravid, who grew up in Connecticut and moved to two and a half years ago, explained the name of the program.
“It’s called Morning Medley because it’s in the morning and there are a medley of exercises and exercise styles each time. We do everything from a motivating mix of aerobics, resistance training, interval work to circuit training.”
She added: “The people who have come have been supportive, flexible and involved. I think my biggest worry and wish is that more people knew about this. Different gyms are running exercise classes but I believe in terms of finding a high-quality, accessible-to-all-ages-and-all-abilities, affordable class, this is probably it, and that was done by design as well. We didn’t want it to be something that people wouldn’t do because they couldn’t afford it or were worried about spending the money or if they weren’t in shape enough, too old, too young — we wanted to keep it a good mix of people and abilities — it’s really turned out to be definitely that, which had been exciting, too.”
Neither Ravid or Conway Rec make money off the program.
“Every dollar goes right back into getting more equipment for the classes,” she said.
There were just seven people in class on Wednesday when Ravid put them through a Halloween workout.
“Nothing too intense,” she promised. “I was a middle school teacher for years. (Organizing the workout) is like channeling my lesson-planning desire. Each day, I try to make sure it’s a whole-body workout and something different.”
The group did some random stretches, along with walking at a fast pace/jogging around half of the Marshall Gymnasium.
“Frann does a great job,” said Lorraine St. Pierre of Madison. She and Norm, her husband have enjoyed the class. ‘She’s so accommodating, and this facility is fantastic."
Terri Krystof, who lives in North Conway, agrees.
“Frann is a great instructor. She makes classes fun and is very informative.”
On Wednesday, Ravid had the class take part in seven different Halloween-themed exercise stations. There was the Zombie Walk, where groups of two, you walk with dumbbells with your arms outstretched, lifting one up and one down like a zombie.
Another was the Vampire, where people used stretch bands, stretching their arms out like a bat and then crossing their bodies like a vampire with its cape.
There was the Broom Ride, where participants each got on a broom like a witch doing a number of bending exercises designed to tighten your core.
“You should have heard me when I called John and asked him if he had any booms we could ride,” Ravid said, laughing.
“I’m really going to miss riding the broom,” a smiling Norm St. Pierre said.
Sneak Away featured a standing mat with a person on each side doing walking squats beneath it and then making scary gestures when they got to the end corner of the mat and turned around.
“You feel it in your lower legs,” Ravid said, smiling.
Run Away had people jogging in a serpentine route around large balls for 45 seconds.
Jack-o’-Lantern featured people lifting Jack-o’-lantern buckets with weights in them over their heads and from side-to-side.
Dead Bug had the class doing a variety of leg lifts while lying on the floor.
All the while the group worked out to Halloween music that included Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” and Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” were just a few of the classics.
“It’s a great way to wake up,” said Cheryl Murphy, who along with Mike, her husband, haven’t missed a class.
You can download the adult exercise class registration form at tinyurl.com/y2lzfbqo.
If you have any questions call Conway Rec at (603) 901-1139.