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Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 01:11 pm

Best of Recreation and Fitness


Best gym for weight training

Fit Club
all locations
Though it’s not obvious to a casual observer, it’s true that weight training burns more calories when the muscles are at rest (during a workout) than when they’re in motion. Though there are exceptions to the rule, it’s also true that while group exercises are more popular as a “girl thing,” the solitary test of pressing pounds to arms’ length remains a mostly “manly thing.” All Fit Club locations offer weight training, but Public Relations Director Ron Lowder is particularly pleased with the new Olympic weightlifting workout introduced this spring at Fit Club West. Two years ago a free-weight training area was included in the 20,000-square-foot addition to Fit Club South. Anyone of any gender considering a weight program exclusively should consider reduced-rate membership in Fit Club North, which has neither pool nor track. Key to the success of a weights program or any other is simply making the most of it. Lowder says, “If you join a gym and don’t use it, there’s a problem. Don’t blame the gym.”
Runner-up: Wayne Carrels’ H.I.P.E. -
High Intensity Practical Exercise

Best Health Club/Gym For Socializing
Fit Club
all locations
Not a sign of the coming apocalypse, perhaps, but for sure a sign that gymnasia aren’t what they used to be, is the popularity of WiFi (wireless Internet) at Fit Clubs in Springfield and Carlinville. It’s part of a trend that won top votes in this category, and public relations director Ron Lowder knows why. Part of the appeal of the immaculate facilities is the prospect of encountering friends and meeting new ones. Hence the new City Blends juice bar at Fit Club South and coffee bars at the rest. “Our members range from 18 to their 90s,” Lowder says, with the average age somewhere in the 40s. Birthdays at Fit Club are popular with the seniors, and on those occasions, they’re welcome to bring in cake. Many socializers are part of Memorial Hospital cardiac rehab programs. He stresses that the coffee bars are not cafes, though they have healthy snacks; nothing fried, no trans fats. The result is another reason to spend time at the scene, to encourage others and to exercise, to try harder with the feel of friendly eyes watching. Socialize and exercise: together a perfect harmonize.

Jon Gaffney
The former Illinois Times cover boy is back in Springfield and apparently still skating away with our readers’ hearts. The 5’9”, 180-pound, 20-year-old forward from New Jersey — known for his red hair and fast-paced play — told us last season that he likes to be the noisemaker on the ice. And apparently, it works. He’s established quite a following. He’s been dubbed the “assistant mayor” of Springfield, and his coaches joke that even other teams’ fans fawn over him. He definitely doesn’t lack dedication. Gaffney once played with a fractured vertebra in his neck and a broken growth plate in his shoulder. “I can’t sit out,” he told us. “It hurts more to sit in the stands watching your team win or lose.”
Runners-up: Nick Curry, Jeremiah Dargis, C.J. Groh, Brian Prost, Andrew Tatham

Vincente Cafaro
In the Springfield Sliders’ unlikely journey to capture the Central Illinois Collegiate League championship in their first year as an expansion franchise, second baseman Vincente Cafaro stood out from the beginning. During the second week of the season, the CICL recognized Cafaro and Slider teammates Jimmy Swift and Dennis Vaughn as co-players of the week. Cafaro, a senior at Creighton University and a Venezuela native, went on to finish among league leaders in at least ten statistical categories, which includes his .287 batting average, .432 slugging percentage and 36 runs scored. As impressive as he was on the field, Cafaro was also a big hit in the community, says team general manager Darren Feller. “Before the game, after the game, signing autographs. He stuck around until we turned the lights out,” Feller says. On the diamond, Feller adds, “He’s very smooth with the glove defensively, has a great bat, and always came through when we needed him.”
Runners-up, no pun intended: Alex Urbas, Jimmy Swift (tie)

Best Pilates instructor
Carol Dunaway
St. John’s Hospital Center for Living
619 E. Mason St., 544-5483

“She makes you work out, but she won’t kill you.” That’s exactly what we look for in any fitness coach, and that just happens to be the capsule description from one of the many IT readers who nominated Carol Dunaway for best Pilates instructor. Dunaway, who also came in second place for best yoga instructor, teaches at St. John’s Hospital’s Center for Living. Wrote another voter: “She is a great investment for your body.”

Best yoga instructor
Ami Flammini
Ahh Yoga
1051 Wabash Ave. 725-2373

The best recommendation we’ve heard for a yoga instructor came from a self-described “yoga purist” who has been a practicing pretzel for more than six years. “She has a good mix of some good yoga philosophy and just being practical,” the pretzel said. “She suits my taste, but she also tries to make it seem less New-Agey.” That instructor is Ami Flammini, founder and co-owner of Ahh Yoga, just in its third year of business. It offers a wide range of classes at varying times taught by nine different instructors, plus occasional weekend workshops featuring visiting yogis, and even kirtan (acoustic chanting) a few Friday nights per year. Sayeth the pretzel, “Ami has a real passion for yoga.”