Does Exercise Have to be Boring? Alt ways to get fit

It’s a classic dilemma. The upcoming holidays prompt intense fits of eating followed by the guilt of said eating with promises of a better life for the New Year. New Year’s Eve cues New Year resolutions, and many choose fitness as their goal, making a subscription to their local gym — and then making two or three trips before giving up on the membership.

Instead of falling into the same funk, why not turn your fitness goal into a fitness journey. A common complaint for those with a gym membership is it’s boring. Who wants to run in the same spot for 20 minutes and then move five feet away to life weights for 20 minutes? A proper fitness journey starts with fun, and, luckily, the Pioneer Valley is known for its unconventional ways of living — and for having more fun than most.

Check out these Pioneer Valley unconventional fitness spots and start your journey.


6 Trumbull Road, Northampton

Pole dancing has taken the fitness world by storm, with many realizing it actually takes extreme athleticism to lift your entire body on a pole without support. But the Barre and Pole in Northampton is much more than just athleticism. Owner Tekla Kostek says that her craft has a spiritual and mental side. “Part of my mission is to bring back a healthy, happy home,” Kostek explains. “A safe space for women to love and appreciate their bodies.”

Kostek recalls when a woman came to her class and was upset because she had to wear shorts to use the pole. “One girl comes up crying and I thought, here is the healing.” In six weeks, Kostek explains, the woman was wearing a bikini.


25 Main St., Northampton

Jen Pollins started Northamptons School of Contemporary Dance and Thought three years ago and has been offering classes for all age groups since. Pollins explains the focus of her lessons is on performance with movement, including visual art, music, and dance. Pollins also shares some ideals with Kostek of the Barre and Pole, explaining, “I do a lot of holistic work, a lot of this is focused on health. I see dance as a healing form.”

She further explains that with dance there is, “endless growth… there’s no end point, there’s just a lot of possibilities.” Upcoming Spring lessons for the School of Contemporary Dance and Thought include post modern aerobics, adult modern dance, and contemporary modern dance.


Various locations

If indoor exercise isn’t your style, you can join the Pioneer Valley Hiking club and take your fitness journey to the hills. Hiking year round, the club has already made arrangements for parts of January, with hikes to our very own Mt. Tom, and Howe Caverns in New York.

Residents who want to join have to pay a $25 membership fee, but members are rewarded with unlimited access to hikes and club activities, which happen weekly.


121 West St., Springfield

Created in Springfield in 2009 to promote river based sporting activities, the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club offers a rare chance to bring your fitness journey to the Connecticut River. One of the more popular activities offered is dragon boating, a 2000 year old sport originating in China where participants sit on a decorative 40 foot long boat and are guided through the river. Traditional rowing is also offered.

What’s special about the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club is that it offers such a unique opportunity to a wide variety of ages, where else will you get the chance to row on the Connecticut River? You can even get a heads up on those who only join in the warmer weather by taking indoor  training classes.


JFK Middle School 100 Bridge Road, Florence

Water aerobics uses water resistance to tone and condition muscles while minimizing impact on joints. The Aquatic and Family Center at JFK Middle School in Northampton offers classes for all ages and skill levels, including aquatic Zumba classes on Mondays. It’s the perfect solution for those looking to make waves and get their heart rates up. The center also offers swim lessons for kids, so why not get the whole family and jump in?

Participants can choose from a 30, 20, or 10 week subscription, all of which last ten weeks. There are also options from morning classes which run, 7-7:40 a.m., and 6-7 p.m. Go to to register.

Contact Kyle Olsen at

Advocate Staff

Author: Advocate Staff

Editor of the Valley Advocate

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