An inside look at the Stratton Training & Fitness Center
STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER
PHOTOGRAPHY JIMMY IENNER, Jr.
On a quiet and picturesque hillside near the heart of Stratton Village, an inviting oasis of health and wellness beckons both locals and vacationers. The Stratton Training & Fitness Center is staffed by courteous and knowledgeable professionals and offers a broad range of amenities, classes, and services. Well-maintained workout rooms with free weights, cutting-edge weight machines, ellipticals, treadmills and Peloton® bikes are complemented by a 75-foot indoor saltwater swimming pool, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, several sumptuous massage therapy rooms, a yoga and Pilates studio, and a well-stocked gear shop. Regardless of the season, those who visit the Stratton Training & Fitness Center are treated to a well-rounded fitness experience.
“We welcome people of all levels of fitness ability,” says Deedee Anglum. “We like to meet people where they’re at and help them reach whatever personal goals they set for themselves.” Anglum has worked at Stratton for the past eleven years. She has spent the past three years serving as the membership coordinator and transitioning into her most recent role as the manager of the Stratton Training & Fitness Center. Anglum works diligently to provide exemplary customer service to all guests who come to the Stratton Training & Fitness Center and is grateful for the positive and enduring relationships that she has built with their long-term clients. “One of the greatest things about working for Stratton is seeing people come back again and again. Whether they’re local residents or part-time homeowners, the time that they spend here at Stratton plays a significant part in their lives. We go above and beyond to create a warm and welcoming ambience, so that people feel at home when they come here. We listen to our guests and welcome their feedback, and we offer multiple membership options that are ideally-suited for guests of all types.”
Throughout the course of the year, the Stratton Training & Fitness Center flexibly adapts to accommodate the needs of the greater Stratton community. In the winter months, the fitness center’s resident staff includes four massage therapists, three yoga and fitness instructors, and two tennis coaches. Regularly scheduled fitness classes include morning Pilates classes, spin classes, “Aqua Power” water aerobics classes, and afternoon yoga classes. Tennis clinics are also held during the winter months on the indoor tennis courts. The clinics are taught by the Stratton Training & Fitness Center’s two seasoned on-staff professional tennis coaches, Robert Menzies and Valeria Lopez.
Robert Menzies is the Director of Tennis at the Stratton Training & Fitness Center. In addition to overseeing the Stratton Training & Fitness Center’s year-round tennis clinics, school tennis programs, and emergent pickleball program (which includes their popular weekly Friday pickleball games), Menzies also serves as the chief organizer and manager of Stratton’s Cliff Drysdale Tennis School summer program. Combining world-class instruction with breathtaking mountain views, the Cliff Drysdale Tennis School summer program offers daily morning instructional clinics, private lessons, and weekend clinics for both children and adults. The in-demand summer program takes place on the outdoor courts and is open to anyone who is looking to improve their tennis skills.
“The Cliff Drysdale summer tennis program provides guests who come to Stratton with the perfect opportunity to bring their tennis game to the next level,” says Menzies. “During the wintertime, we offer structured clinics for players of all skill levels. We have mid-week morning clinics for adults, and we also work with local schools through our school program, such as The Mountain School at Winhall and Stratton Mountain School. On the weekends, we hold classes and clinics on Saturdays and Sundays that are great for people who are visiting the resort.”
Given the fact that the Stratton Training & Fitness Center employs two on-staff tennis professionals year-round, Menzies and Lopez are able to effectively split the winter clinics up between novice and experienced players. “We help guests of all skill levels refine and strengthen their skills and become better players. We also offer our tennis clinics for a fraction of the price of what many of our visiting guests pay in urban areas. It’s a great option for ‘weekend warriors’ who come to visit throughout the winter season.”
For local residents who are interested in an invigorating and uplifting tennis experience, Menzies recommends their 9 AM “Cardio Tennis” class. “The Cardio Tennis class is a lot of fun. There is no instruction, so it’s ideal for people who have a good foundation of tennis skills who want to enjoy a high-energy workout.” Menzies adds that for players with minimal experience, their 10 AM and 11 AM “Fast Feed Clinics” provide a fantastic opportunity to learn fundamental movements and techniques. “We focus on footwork, form, and level-based skills. Anyone can benefit from that. There is no clinic that is ‘beginners only,’ and there is no one clinic that is ‘experts only.’ We want our clinics to be fun and approachable for a wide range of players. The goal is to cultivate and grow people’s passion for tennis and help them enjoy the sport in the way that they want to.”
Valeria Lopez serves as the Junior Program Director for the Stratton Training & Fitness Center’s tennis program. Lopez says that she finds considerable fulfillment in working with young tennis players. “Whenever someone comes up to me at the end of a lesson and tells me that they learned a lot from it, it puts a big smile on my face. It can be something as simple as someone finally putting the ball over the net, but I see every bit of progress that my students make as an important victory.”
By working closely with one of her most enthusiastic and driven students, Lopez was able to help him unlock his athletic potential through a number of progressive training sessions. According to Lopez, when she first noticed his skills beginning to improve, she knew that it was important to seize the opportunity and solidify his lifelong love of the sport. “One of my students started playing tennis last summer. He was very new to tennis, but it was clear that he really enjoyed it from the beginning. He started with one or two hours a day, and he kept calling me and scheduling more lessons and increasing his playing time. Eventually, I asked him how hard he wanted to work and what he wanted to get out of playing tennis. He told me that he wanted to play in high school and eventually play in college and professional leagues. At that point, we started working even harder. He has continued to play and improve ever since, and he has been picked up by several tennis academies in his home town. It was amazing to see his progression, and it makes me happy to see his play improve every time he comes back here to visit.”
Yoga Instructor Sally Larkin brings an equal sense of passion to the classes she teaches at Stratton. Larkin has yoga certifications from Lifeline Power Yoga and Live Love Teach. She has also completed several week-long trainings in Yin yoga with Baron Baptiste (of the Baptiste Institute).
“Yoga is hard,” says Larkin. “That’s exactly why I wanted to go back to my first power Vinyasa class and try again. It really is a practice. For me, I knew the challenge of it was something I needed for my body, my health, and my overall well-being. I felt at home.” According to Larkin, she aims to give both newcomers and skilled yogis the same experience when they come to her classes at the Stratton Training & Fitness Center. In addition to her regularly-scheduled yoga classes at the fitness center, Larkin also teaches Mountain Top Yoga classes on the Stratton yoga deck in the summertime. In the wintertime, she teaches a yoga class by the fireplace in the living room of the Black Bear Lodge, which is perfect for guests who want to wind down and relax after a long day on the ski slopes.
Larkin incorporates elements of both Vinyasa flow and restorative “Yin” energy postures in all her classes. “My classes and private sessions are accessible to every person and every body. I add props and pointers along the way, not as corrections, but to build or modify poses for a fuller experience. Strength, balance, and flexibility are each worked on in conjunction with breath, which connects the movements. Noticing the breath and body relationship naturally aids in presence and mindfulness, which is something we all need to practice and benefit from.”
Larkin encourages anyone with an interest in group classes or private yoga instruction to attend her classes, as well as the other classes at the fitness center. She adds that all of the Stratton Training & Fitness Center’s instructors welcome both inexperienced newcomers and longtime enthusiasts.
Down the hall from the Stratton Training & Fitness Center’s yoga and Pilates room, a team of thoughtful and caring Massage Therapists provide a range of massage services that help guests relax and reconnect with their bodies in a different way. Massage Therapist Sandy Superchi has been working at the Stratton Training & Fitness Center for the past several decades. As a nationally-certified massage therapist, she is well-trained in a variety of massage techniques, including Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Sports Massage, and Prenatal Massage.
“Guests who are looking to enjoy a relaxing massage usually book an appointment for a Swedish massage, which is very soothing and calming. During the winter, guests will often come in for a Deep Tissue massage after a long day of skiing. Deep Tissue massage really helps to loosen muscles after intense athletic activity and relieve physical tension. Sports massage energizes the muscles, which is wonderful for both competitive and casual athletes.”
Over the years that Superchi has worked at the Stratton Training & Fitness Center, she has lent her massage services to a number of high-profile athletic events, such as the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships. “About a decade ago, we set up a massage station for all of the athletes that were participating in the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships. It was amazing to be able to help the young athletes who were competing there.”
In addition to the Burton U.S. Snowboarding Championships, Superchi has also provided massages to local sporting events such as Manchester’s annual Maple Leaf Half Marathon. “Every fall, we set up a station at the Manchester Maple Leaf Half Marathon and massage people after they finish their run. It really helps them to loosen up so that their muscles don’t tighten, which is incredibly important after long-distance runs.”
Superchi says that many of Stratton’s returning part-time residents often book massage appointments for Friday afternoons after long car trips. “It’s wonderful to be able to welcome people back to Stratton with a relaxing massage after they arrive here. I get to help them unwind and acclimate, and it makes my day every time I sense their tension evaporate. I always tell them, ‘Welcome back! You’re home.’ At the end of the massage, they walk out feeling like a completely different person. They’re able to leave their stress behind and enjoy the rest of their vacation in a more relaxed state.”
The way Superchi sees it, the best part about working for the Stratton Training & Fitness Center is getting to know her guests over the years that they come to visit. “Throughout the course of the time I’ve spent at Stratton, I’ve gotten to know some truly wonderful people. I always look forward to seeing people when they return, and I’m happy to know that the work we do here makes the time they spend here even better.”