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Firehouse fitness

Shaker Road offers exercise classes for all ages, but without participation, the program could fold

Participants work out while putting together a puzzle with their children as part of the Baby Boot Camp class at Shaker Road Loudonville Fire Department

Participants work out while putting together a puzzle with their children as part of the Baby Boot Camp class at Shaker Road Loudonville Fire Department Photo by Billy DeLap.

Fitness classes at Shaker Road firehouse aim to involve everyone from children to seniors, but without more participation, their future is uncertain.

What started five years ago at the Shaker Road Loudonville Fire Department as a single Pilates class has morphed into nearly 10 different exercise classes offered during the day and evening.

“I realized that exercise made me feel so good so I wanted to share that with everyone I could,” said Barbara-Jean Heinbach, the health, wellness and exercise administrator at the Shaker Road Loudonville Fire Department. “Every time I heard of a different area, I would try to get a different class to help those people.”

Heinbach said that the instructors for the classes get paid from the fees collected for each session, so if there are not enough participants, that financial hit is felt by the instructors.

“Without people in the community coming to those classes, I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to keep the classes going,” said Heinbach.

Heinbach has been a volunteer at the fire department for 27 years and began the classes after discovering how much exercising helped her deal with the chronic neck and back pain she suffered from sitting at an office desk, as well as the arthritis she had recently developed. Heinbach has worked for the state for more than 20 years.

“The area I really like to focus on is I saw a lot of the older members of the firehouse just seemed so sad and depressed during the winter because our winters are so bad here. So we started classes for them, and they were feeling so good they wanted more classes,” said Heinbach.

As the classes grew, Heinbach noticed that it was more than just the elderly who were looking for a way to stay healthy and active during the winter. Another class offered at firehouse was for mothers who could bring their children in while they exercised.

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