Weekend classes aim to promote wellness—for free
On any given summer Saturday or Sunday morning at 9 a.m. on the Second Street Park green in Bordentown, you will find a blissful collection of yoga and fitness devotees gathered together to share in the relaxing, stimulating, exhiliarating common pursuit of nirvana.
These sessions take place all summer long through Sept. 4 and involve residents from all walks of life and all levels of fitness, health, athletic ability and knowledge. But it is clear that all involved share the same passionate desire to experience the spiritual, emotional and last but not least, physical healing that yoga and fitness provide no matter one’s station in life.
The classes are the brainchild of Denise Evans, of Evans Family Chiropractic in Bordentown. She got the idea for the program when she did a lot of traveling as an events director for an international women’s group. She thought to herself, “Why not do this in Bordentown?”
In addition to traditional chiropractic treatments, the practice focuses on wellness, nutrition, diet and exercise. Evans is certified in personal training from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and got her chiropractic degree from Life University in Georgia.
The Saturday and Sunday sessions began last year, when Evans asked two other Bordentown-based businesses to join her in the bold new adventure.
“The founding purpose was to elevate community awareness of the benefits of personal fitness and community involvement in one and the same location,” she said. “Everyone gets lots of exercise, friendships develop within the community leading to long term exercise commitments and friendships with the people involved.”
A recent class began with stretching and breathing, then went into a core workout, interspersed with jumping jacks and ended with a handful of reps of the entire workout. No muscle group was left out. There were a dozen people there, a mixture of men and women ranging from early 20s to mid-50s, of all ability levels. It was a total body workout, but it was obvious from the smiling faces around the circle that everyone had fun. “It feels fantastic," chimed in Eric Holliday, a 47 year old Bordentown committeman. “Wayne is great, very smart. I go to Core Performance with him during the week, too” he said.
“I feel energized,” said Katherine Walsh, who hails from Columbus. Bordentown resident Mallory Pazder, also 28, supports her friend Walsh’s assertion: “It’s an intense but great workout. We’ll be back. This was our first time here,” she said.
Evans has spent the past 25 years in practice in Bordentown. “I decided this was a great way I could give back to the community for all the benefits I have been blessed with over all these years,” she said. A Bordentown native, she attended Bordentown Regional schools and graduated from the high school, where field hockey was her specialty. Now, she enjoys running, cycling, and paddle board. After high school, she went on to The College of New Jersey where earned a degree in biology.
“I love it when patients come in in bad shape, learn good habits and see the transformative experience that yoga and fitness bring. Then they pass that on to others. I hope to continue to see people leaving yoga class with mats on their backs,” she said.
A single mom, Evans has a son, Cole, 21 who attends Mercer County Community College, and a 23-year-old daughter, Aubrie, who got her college degree in fashion and design with a marketing slant. She is currently a fashion, design and marketing blogger and writer. She will be working alongside her mom in the new café venture they are planning in town, set for sometime in 2017. The café will be focused on providing convenient and healthy cuisine for “families on the go,” offering soups, salads, smoothies and healthy kids’ choices.
Joining Evans in the Saturday and Sunday yoga and fitness classes are two other local businesses, Core Performance of Bordentown, and Honor Yoga, based in Mansfield. Wayne Cobbs, Jr., a Bordentown native, owns Core Performance and Shannon Magee, who hails from Chesterfield, owns Honor Yoga. Magee spearheads the Sunday session while Cobbs manages the one on Saturday morning. Cobbs actually works out of Evans Family Chiropractic.
Magee shared the goings on of a recent Saturday class, highlighting the fact that these sessions involve a mixed bag of beginners, intermediates and advanced yoga and fitness gurus. “I was teaching headstands [one day] and I flopped over and had a good laugh and so did the class,” she said. “The good thing was that no matter what activity you are doing, it’s important to laugh it off and take things in stride when you stumble sometimes. I think it put everyone at ease right off the bat seeing that the instructor was human too,” she added.
Magee grew up in Chesterfield and attended Northern Burlington High School. Her whole family is from the area—in fact, her grandparents were from Bordentown, so her connection to this community had very early roots. Now, she is planting her own generational roots as a single mom raising three young boys, ages 4, 7 and 12.
She said it’s not uncommon to see a dozen or more new faces every weekend, a sign of vitality in the program. It is “a wonderful way to give back to the community that does so much for me,” Magee added.
“I am thrilled to be taking part in this opportunity to elevate awareness in the benefits of yoga and fitness,” she said. “Most people who come out are from town here. It’s very rewarding, especially to see the benefits people experience, especially the healing process that yoga contributes to.”
Magee’s background is in massage therapy, and she went through teacher training at Honor Yoga. She wanted to do what she loves and raise her kids in a career with a flexible schedule. She graduated in 2014 from teacher training and opened her studio in Sept. 2014. Asana is the physical practice of yoga. The physical part is 10 percent of the benefit. Ninety percent is navigating through life issues with mental training. “You work out stuff on the mat, leave with a sense of spiritual relief and ease. The breathing is a crucial part of that,” Magee said.
Cobbs has been a personal trainer for four years now. He has been at Core Performance now one year. Prior to that, he worked at Retro Fitness in Bordentown for three years. “This is better than I would have ever have imagined. I really get to personalize things a lot more now and it really taps my creativity,” he said. Cobbs, a 2008 Bordentown Regional High School graduate, played varsity football and basketball for the Scotties.
“I was always involved in sports and fitness and this is just a fulfillment of my childhood dream,” he said.
The free summer exercise and yoga program runs Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m. through Labor Day at the Second Street Park.