Sunday, September 9, 2012

At Pyramid Fitness, we care DEEPLY about our members and their opinions. We feel that although we manage the facility, it belongs to our members and guests, and so we take note of your opinions and whenever possible, try to make changes to make P-Fit better for everyone. Last week, we put ourselves out there and asked all of our current and former members to let us know what they like--and what they do not like--about Pyramid Fitness. We got so many wonderful comments--thank you!--and so many excellent suggestions. So that everyone knows your comments and suggestions were heard, I wanted to respond to each one below:

"Looking forward to the new treadmills."
Thanks--so are we! They just arrived today!

"Clean up the shower in the bathroom or install another small shower, separate from the bathroom ( to not interfere with the bathroom needs of others ), and allow members the opportunity to wash up before work, or post workout."
This is a great idea...and while it sounds easy, this sort of change is VERY difficult in an old building, because it would involve installing new plumbing, taking space from the facility that we desperately need, etc. When we opened P-Fit, we made a conscious choice NOT to have the whole locker room scene. I've worked in health clubs for a very long time, and almost every problem I have ever encountered in health clubs has been the result of the locker rooms. Every bad thing that can happen in a health club seems to happen in the locker rooms---thefts, fights, lewd behavior, bacterial problems in and around the showers, and the embarrassment of changing/showering in front of other people. We don't want these problems at P-Fit! Also, the price of water in Rutland is outrageous, and if we pay for people to take showers, we would have to increase the price of membership dramatically. As a very small facility that is trying to build its membership, it does not seem like a wise decision to make such a huge change at this time; however, if we continue to grow and have to move to a new location, we will definitely consider adding sanitary showers. In the meantime, we are always trying to add new classes during the day that will be challenging without causing a great deal of sweat, and one can complete the Nautilus circuit in 20-30 minutes during the day without a huge amount of we are hoping that people will appreciate our affordable rates instead of the full-blown locker/shower scene.

"Offering all the classes at one location would be a little more convenient but I understand why this may not be possible."
This would be ideal to have the entire Pyramid in one location; however, there are currently no spaces in the downtown area that could accommodate all of the types of space we need in one building. We're at a very unique time in the development of our business, because we have built up a following now in each type of class that we do--fitness, yoga, martial arts, and dance--and everyone wants their classes at the most popular times. Operating two different studios at the same time is the only way we can make sure that all of our customers will have at least two classes per week in their ideal time slots.

"Can't think of a thing. Oh yes, how about some more "oldie songs" in cardio-kickboxing?"
You got it! Coming soon!

"The new air conditioner will be great but I think the workout room needs 3 ceiling fans. Because the heat cannot be adjusted in the winter it becomes stifling in there at times. we open the windows but that does nothing for the people on the door end of the room. Ceiling fans would ensure good air flow in both summer and winter."
We're currently exploring the option of putting in ceiling fans. There are electrical and space issues in each of our studios that make this difficult--but we're willing to see what we can do!

"The website could use some help! It would be cool to see some pictures of the classes in action and maybe a video on your Facebook page/website. More photos of the facility would be cool to see as well. I love Pyramid!"
Thank you--the Pyramid loves you, too! ; ) We are in the process of converting our website to a different format that will make it easier to navigate, and most importantly, easier for us to update quickly. We've made some temporary improvements to the website already, but in the next couple of weeks, you will see an entirely revamped website! The new website will have awesome pictures and videos...and we are working on a YouTube video that will help show what we are all about!

"Wash the blankets regularly and replace the tattered yoga mats."
Hmmmmm. We really just have the mats and blankets here as a courtesy. Although many health clubs provide these for their members and guests, there are many reasons why it is better for people to have their own blankets and mats. Especially when using the mats, the oils from your skin interact with the yoga mats and they are really designed for one person. We encourage all of our guests and members to bring their own for sanitary reasons, but we have these loaners on hand for people to borrow when necessary. That said, the mats are antibacterial and we do wash them fairly regularly. I am sorry that I have not seen any tattered mats. As membership increases, these are things that we are happy to invest in. Washing the blankets is a bit harder because you cannot just throw them into a regular washer, but we will keep this in mind for sure!

"Accessibility other than THOSE stairs!"
Assuming you mean the stairs at P-Fit, there is another option. If you enter our building from Evelyn Street, there is an elevator and a back entrance to P-Fit. Since we usually keep the back door locked, just give us a head's up of a quick phone call when you arrive (802-775-1880) and we can let you in the back entrance if there is not a class going on.

"The smell in the rooms is bad. smells like a sewer."
Unfortunately, Rutland's sewer system has issues. Whenever there is heavy rain or what I would consider extreme weather, the smell of the sewer gets "ripe" and permeates into most downtown buildings to some degree. That said, I've never smelled it outside of our stairwell. I've been told that there is nothing we can do about this smell...but if you do smell it, alert the Guest Services team member and they will let me know and we can look into it. Sorry our place has been smelly! (Are you sure it's not just me after kickboxing?) : )

"Have early morning classes."
There are two main reasons we do not have early morning instructors to teach them, and low attendance. The bottom line is that we need more members and more instructors in the area to make morning classes work. If you can find at least four people willing to commit for at least two months to a time slot, I promise to do my best to find an instructor for you. Give me more feedback...what time are you thinking? What types of classes?

"Advertise the student massages so we can plan to get one."
The student massages are typically on Sundays...we always post them on Facebook, so be sure to watch there. They fill up very fast, so we don't usually have to advertise much! If you'd like, call the main Pyramid number (802-775-8080) to schedule an appointment for the next available opening.

"better air conditioning"
Got it. Agree. Working on it!

"I wish there were more cardio classes and kickboxing classes during the day. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays."
Again, this is an issue of not enough instructors and low attendace. If you can get at least four people who are willing to commit for two months, I promise to do my best to locate an instructor and open up the class. It's REALLY tough to get good instructors in Vermont, and the ones who are here are already stretched to the max. (I would love to add another class but I'm already teaching 11 classes per week!)

"I have knee problems so both the tread mills and the elypticals are out for me (tendonosis). I would love to see an updated bike/spinning machine in the main room. It's isolated and too hot in the other room and you feel on display there when people come in and out from the bathroom and changing rooms."
Got it. We will see if we can move the spin bike into the main area. I don't know if you are saying that the spin bike needs to be updated, but it is a very recent top-of-the-line model that is used in most health clubs around the country.

"Would like to see a strength training class that concentrates more on lifting weights to increase muscle and use of stability balls."
Be sure to check out Tuesday night at 5:30 for an awesome strength class. Please note also that many of our classes, including Laurie's Wednesday night class and my Sunday at 9 AM, include some strength. All of our classes will actually build muscle because they involve very focused, controlled movements. We would love to do a stability ball class, but we do not have the room to store the numbers of balls we would need. One option would be to have you bring your own balls...I will talk to the instructors and see if this is something we could coordinate!

"I found the prohibition against "street shoes" difficult to work around during a busy work day. I couldn't just make a drop-in visit unless I was prepared in advance with the right shoes. On the flip side, I know that it helps to keep your facility clean and I appreciate that. If you had lockers or changing rooms for folks like me (downtown as part of my work day), I could more easily incorporate fitness into my day. Heat during the summer months was a huge issue but I do see that you are working to address that problem. Classes need to begin and end as scheduled."
I am not actually aware of ANY health facility that allows street shoes. Some clubs are just so big that they don't care. But in a small center like ours, we notice, and even one person coming in with street shoes will make a huge mess all around the's not just an issue of wanting to look tidy--the debris that is tracked in can get into the electronics of the treadmills and destroy them. It is fine to do the Nautilus and even some classes in stocking feet. While we do not have lockers, we do have places to change, and I am sure we could figure out some place to store your shoes if that is the only reason you have for not working out! As far as the class times, this is also good feedback--thanks! Our instructors--like our members--are INCREDIBLY busy, drive from other cities to teach, etc. We do our best to start and end on time...unless I am missing something, the only issue has been my 9 AM time slots, and I always make sure that if I am a few minutes late, the members and guests get a more-than-adequate workout. Otherwise, I think we do a very good job managing a ridiculously full schedule!

"Increased weekend hours- starting at 7 would be great."
"Can you explore whether there is a market for slightly later hours? Say, until 9? I work about an hour out of town so it can be difficult at times for me to fit the gym and all my other necessary errands into my schedule when I'm not getting back into town until 6 pm."
It sounds like such an easy thing to open just one hour earlier or stay open one hour later. While we do our best to try to accommodate everyone and eliminate ALL excuses for not working out, this is a bit more challenging than it sounds. Staying open one hour later, for example, increases our expenses by about $500 a month. So although every member is important, typically we have not had anyone working out after the fitness classes end for months. Besides that, our staff members are here VERY long hours already, and I think Josh on the weekends would quit if I asked him to get here another hour earlier! ; ) All of that said, I am going to go out on a limb here, and if you are willing to help us increase our membership so that we have at least ten new members willing to commit to coming in at any given time slot, I will find a way to increase our hours.

"More equipment for abs/mid section. Music in the gym...for days I forget my ear buds ;)"
My opinion is that equipment for the mid section is in general the most dangerous, improperly used, and USELESS equipment in any gym. It is frankly a waste of time and space! Most fitness experts agree with this to the point where legitimate professional grade companies are not even making core machines anymore. I do not know ANY human being alive who needs stronger cores--there is just a huge buzz in the fitness industry now about core this and core that. Everyone wants stronger cores, but the reality is that most people already have very adequately strong cores---the muscles are usually just buried under a layer of abdominal fat and the way to lose that is through healthy eating and increased cardio/overall strength. In my opinion, there is nothing  that can be done with a core machine that you cannot do without a mat and a weight--and these exercises are far less likely to injure you than a machine. If you need help learning some great exercises for the core that will not injure you, check with a staff member, or take advantage of meeting with our incredible personal trainer and director of fitness, Josh Moore. Josh works exclusively at the Pyramid, and if you've ever seen his core, which he built without the use of any machines, it is inspiring. Most YMCA's do not even bother purchasing core machines anymore because they are so ineffective and injure so many people. All of that said, we do have one very important piece of equipment for the core, and that is the lower back extension piece, and I would recommend that and it is the only one you need to develop core strength. Other equipment that we have can work the core as well--leg lifts on the cable cross, etc., if you are really feeling the need for equipment. But in general, machines are not helpful for the core. Now, music in the gym...we also made a conscious decision NOT to have blaring music. The only fight I ever broke up in a health club I was working at was around the radio...two testosterone-inflated guys got into fist fights over what radio station was playing! We could put the radio on loudly, but then someone is bound not to like the type of music playing...and while some people feel pumped up by music, other people are distracted by it---which is the same reason we do not have televisions in the center. We want people to really focus on their workouts and form to avoid getting injured. In this world with iPods, we figure that anyone who really cannot workout without music probably already has an iPod...and for those who do not (or if they forgot it!), we purchased 6 MP3 players, and these are behind the reception desk filled with a wide variety of music for anyone to borrow at any time!

"Senior discounts would be helpful. It is important to keep prices down ty."
While I understand the trend in many industries to offer senior discounts, we have bypassed this idea by offering VERY low cost memberships to EVERYONE. I don't know if you have priced fitness club memberships, but not only are we the LOWEST in town, but we are one of the lowest in the nation. For what we have to offer, $50-75/month would be what you might expect to pay at another Vermont facility. If our center was in a big city, you might expect to pay $120/month or more for what we offer. Most facilities charge $12--$15--$20--even $30 per class for what we charge $6. And if you don't know, we have a special limited membership for $20/month! We are hoping that seniors will take advantage of this $20/month limited membership, but we've opened it up so EVERYONE can enjoy that low price. Please know that we do everything in our power to keep our prices low...and although we've been open for almost two years now, we have not increased our prices ONCE while every other health club has. The operating costs of EVERYTHING have increased since we've opened, and yet we've managed to not raise prices. Add to that all of the perks--the free pool membership, the discounts on services at Pyramid Wellness, the free or reduced priced classes and workshops for our members, etc., and no other facility can touch what we have to offer for double, triple, or even quadruple the price. I would recommend calling around to other facilities to see what they are doing to get a better sense of the true value of Pyramid Fitness!

"Child care for little ones!!!"
"Child care for free with membership"
Another great idea. We'd love to do this, even though we don't really have the space for a child care center. But the main reason we do not is not because of space. Unfortunately, as soon as you put a child care service in your business, it dramatically bumps up your liability risk in the insurance companies' eyes, and it will quadruple your liability insurance premium. This would force us to have to increase our prices a great deal just to cover our operating expenses--let alone pay the child care worker. I'm not sure how any facility could offer this service for free, although I certainly wish we could offer all of our services for free. We're not trying to make it rich off this business, but we do need to be able to pay our expenses. For those of you with children over the age of seven, do you know that we have a special deal worked out with the Boys and Girls Club? For $15, you can get childcare through them for an entire year that includes activities and even meals! Or you can pay $1/hour as needed. (This might as well be free!) For those of you with children under the age of seven, I might recommend childcare sharing.

"4:00 or 4:30 classes"
Currently we offer a Monday 4 PM Gentle Yoga class that is only $5 for our members, a Tuesday 4 PM Mixed Martial Arts class that is taught by donation only, a Wednesday 4 PM Circuit class free to members, a Thursday 4 PM Mixed Martial Arts class that is taught by donation only, and a Friday 4 PM Circuit class that is free to members. We would consider making additions here, but again, we run into the issue of no instructor availability and low attendance. If you can help us get four or more people to commit to a particular type of class for two months, I will do my best to find an instructor.

"Have a ball in the back room w the hand dumbells."
Great idea. Balls are currently in the studio so they don't roll around and trip people up---you can grab one anytime!

"I think better advertising to gain more members..."
Well, this survey shows that almost 60% of our members past and present came to us because of word of mouth. Only 1% saw our ads in the local papers, 3% saw our tv ads or heard the radio ads, 7% saw us on Facebook, 27% heard about us from the Pyramid website, 5% heard about us from our Pyramid newsletter, and 20% saw the facility from the street. Add that up--only 4% of our members came to us because of the paid advertising that we do. And we do a LOT...we regularly advertise in the Mountain Times, in the Rutland Herald, in the Vermont Country Sampler, and we have ads on tv and radio whenever we can. This week, we will have a new ad on WJJR radio. But we get the most members from word of mouth. So if you are having a good experience at Pyramid Fitness, we hope that you will help us spread the word. Tell everyone you know--and if anyone you tell actually signs up, YOU get a referral bonus! See a Guest Services team member for more information about that!

We've also listened to direct feedback you've given us---making changes to the class schedule to try to eliminate some of the crowding, changing the entryway to make it more clear where to go when you get to the top of the stairs, putting a scale in the bathroom (despite our better judgment), getting the spin bike, etc.

Thanks to everyone who has provided feedback in any way--thank you for supporting the Pyramid, and please know that we appreciate you and your business so much and hope we can play a part in getting and keeping you in the best shape of your life!

Be well!
William Kelley

Friday, April 20, 2012

Look...up in the's a's a's your life!

I have to admit that I often make jokes about things not working out because the planets are not lining up correctly. Those who know me, however, know that I am only half joking. I first came to understand the influence of the planets and other sky objects on our lives in my early days of working in mental health; I can remember the uncanny way that my clients tended to have more difficulties during the full moon. This was a pattern that repeated over and over and solidified in my mind as I spoke with others in the mental health profession who noticed the same thing. Surely it wasn't our imagination--and most of the time I had no idea when the full moon was coming, so it wasn't like I was reading into what I was seeing. Later, I noticed similar patterns to electronic devices and communication going haywire and learned that this corresponded with Mercury in retrograde. This happens about three times per year--when Mercury seems to move backwards through the sky from our earth view. Without fail, almost every difficulty I have ever had in my life has happened during Mercury retrograde periods, and as I speak with others, I can see that most people I know seem to have the same patterns. This last Mercury retrograde period was especially intense because it corresponded with Mars in retrograde, a challenging lunar cycle, and other astrologically unique events.

Today is the day that Mercury and Mars have returned to normal.

Thank heavens! (Literally!)

This recent astrological alignment was incredibly devastating for almost everyone I know--deaths of loved ones, losses of pets, break-ups of marriages, relationships, and friendships, business deals falling through, real estate problems, financial and career issues, breaking down of electronics and automobiles, and more. Typically during Mercury retrograde, it is recommended that we lay low and really focus inward. It is also recommended that we not start anything new or initiate any contracts during this period. The idea is that by focusing inward, it gives us time to process what has happened and make plans for what we want to manifest next in our lives. It is typically a time of inner growth. However, this time around, combined with the other planetary activity, it was a time of almost constant upheaval--many of us experienced "one thing after another" to the extreme. Many of us are simply exhausted.

The good news is that we are moving into a calmer period. With Mercury and Mars "direct" now, it is a powerful time to reassess EVERYTHING. By losing so much, it gives us a chance to see what was really important to us, and we now have the opportunity to rebuild anything that we lost during the last couple of months that we have determined is really important to us still. It is a time to reclaim what we lost, but this time build it stronger and better. It is an almost magical time where things that are meant to be will fall easily and effortlessly into place. Some astrologers are suggesting that we pay close attention to the things that manifest easily as these may be signs from the universe about paths that we should take. I like to think that we create our own paths, but the universe is definitely communicating with us now about what things can happen. Combined with the powerful new moon of tomorrow night, this is a perfect time to get really clear about what we want...and simply ask and allow it to manifest.

One technique that works really well is to make a very detailed list of everything you want...without feeling like you are asking for too much (because the universe is expanding and we have unlimited potential for growth)...and reading this list as many times as possible throughout the day. As things manifest, cross them off the list.

But you must be clear. If, for example, you say you want to sell your house, it will not sell if any part of you has doubts. Or, if you say you want a new job but one doesn't materialize, it might be because a part of you does not want a new job, or does not want any job. Think about your motives--thinking about why you want something to happen will help you realize if it is truly something you want. Some people will realize that they are sending out mixed messages to the universe--saying they want a new job but really not wanting to leave the comfort of their current one. So make sure that your list and what you are asking for is truly what you want.

Whether you believe in the Law of Attraction or astrology, this is a time to rejuvenate after what we've all been through. As later in 2012 is going to become wild again, now is the time to really turn inward and become clear about what you want.

Happy manifesting!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Certification v. Licensure

Q: I recently learned that Darya just got her national massage certification. I've been going to her for years now and had no idea she was not certified. I'm very concerned because I assumed someone in a professional establishment like yours would be appropriately licensed. Do the rest of your therapists have licenses?

A: This is a great question--thank you for asking. I'd like to start off by assuring you that all of our practitioners and instructors are appropriately credentialed. But I would also like to explain the difference between certification and licensure, which may help eliminate the confusion. The two main levels of credentialing in our society are licenses and certifications. 

First, licensure is a status granted by an individual state. For example, driving licenses are regulated at the state level. Similarly, states can choose to regulate other activities, such as hunting, fishing, or even careers by regulating specific professions. Being able to practice medicine or psychology is almost always regulated through the granting of licenses at the state level. Typically, professions where significant harm could be done to a client if the professional is not appropriately trained are regulated by licenses. In these cases, states determine what requirements they have for licensure, and an individual is not allowed to practice in that state without a license. 

However, there are many fields that fall under a gray area and so it varies from state to state--clients could be harmed if the professional is not properly trained, but the risk of harm is minimal or the state does not want to regulate it for some other reason. This is the case with massage therapy in Vermont. Although there is a great deal of science connected with the practice of massage therapy, and although a massage therapist could do some damage to a client if not properly trained, this is not a profession that Vermont has chosen to regulate at this time. Therefore, anyone can practice massage in Vermont without a license because Vermont massage licenses do not exist.

In contrast to state licensure, professionals can also be certified. Certifications come from a specific organization. For example, the Pyramid certifies students in massage therapy, Reiki, and fitness instruction. Certifications can be extremely localized, or they can be more nationally focused. A certification simply means that some person or organization has reviewed and/or provided a professional's education and/or work experience and certifies that it meets a minimum standard. 

In the field of massage therapy, it is generally accepted in Vermont that a localized professional certification is enough; however, some practitioners choose to increase their level of certification by adding additional training or testing. This is the case with both Darya McNolty and Tammy Brown. Darya had already received her massage training certificate from the Santa Monica School of Massage, and she worked for ten years as a massage therapist. However, in the field of massage, there is no national standard from state to state but the national board for massage therapy and bodywork (the NCBTMB) offers what they call a national certification, and that just means that the massage therapist meets one of the highest levels of certification in the United States. Darya recently successfully took their national exam which now gives her the additional certification, which, by the way, very few massage therapists in Vermont have. Tammy Brown has also recently completed an additional Yoga teaching certification; although she had completed her Yoga teacher training years ago, she recently completed education for another level of certification.

So I want to assure you that all of our practitioners and instructors have appropriate credentials--either licensure or certification status--and they are all actively working on improving their skills, so be sure to watch for more announcements of additional certifications coming soon and always!

William D. Kelley, Ph.D.
Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center
Pyramid Fitness and Oxygen Bar
120 and 79 Merchants Row
Rutland, VT 05701

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thai Yoga Massage

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how ironic and sad it is that I work at the Pyramid and hardly ever get to take a class from another instructor. Equally ironic and sad is that I am constantly surrounded by excellent massage therapists, and I am almost never able to receive a massage. So it was especially valuable to me last Wednesday when I was able to receive a Thai Yoga Massage (TYM) from local Yoga instructor and TYM therapist Tammy Brown.

There is no question that Tammy's reputation as a Yoga instructor preceeds her everywhere she goes, but many people do not realize that she also offers TYM. Although I had seen it demonstrated at various wellness fairs throughout the country, my first TYM experience was with Tammy just a few years ago. Soon after I officially met her, she let  me know that she was going through training in TYM and needed guinea pigs. Wait--stop--twist my arm! So I was lucky enough to be one of her first "clients."

Fast forward to 2011 and I am committed to my own plan of self-care more than ever. That plan includes the things you might expect from someone at the Pyramid--daily exercise, healthy eating, meditation, and plenty of sleep. But working at the Pyramid, I also have access to an almost limitless array of other services--the Salt Cave, the Halotherapy Room, the Oxygen Bar, the Nautilus circuit, the inversion table, and over 40 different instructors and practitioners. So part of my plan includes partaking in as many of these offerings as I can, as often as I can. So when the opportunity to receive another TYM from Tammy presented itself, I could not refuse.

Of course, I have had the pleasure of many Thai Yoga massages from Tammy over the years, but schedules had gotten in the way and Tammy and I had not been able to connect for a while. This particular day was a day that I definitely was in need of some work, and Tammy's session was exactly what I needed.

One of the things I respect the most about Tammy is her precision. Whereas my Yoga training and interest have been mostly in the philosophy of Yoga, Tammy is clearly also an expert on alignment. Her attention to detail and form in the classroom is equally present in her massage sessions, and from the moment it begins, you know that Tammy is going to make sure that you are in proper form, that you get the most benefit from the massage, and that you do not injure yourself during it.

Those not familiar with TYM may not understand these references; although there are some traditional massage techniques used in TYM, a TYM session is so much more than a traditional massage. This type of treatment allows the recipient to remain rather passive as the therapist actively moves him or her through a series of postures designed to stretch and release the muscles. Some might liken TYM to a Yoga class where the instructor moves your body for you. Because it is an assisted process, often the therapist will help you get a deeper stretch while supporting your body for an intensity that you cannot safely get on your own.

Beyond her clinical precision, though, there is just something special about Tammy. Do not let her quiet presence fool you...she is a powerhouse of wellness expertise. She will greet you at the start of your session, ask some questions to get a sense of how to create a safe, positive experience, and then she will go to work with a smile. I'll admit--sometimes I like to open my eyes during a session sneak a peek at her working, because she is in her bliss when she is able to do TYM. Everything...her music choice, the way she prepares the massage room, and her soothing touch all work together with her expertise to create a special experience like none other.

During the massage I also find myself opening my eyes to see how she is doing what I am feeling, because sometimes the feel of it defies logic and I cannot picture what bizarre things she must be having to do so it can feel like that to me. I am often in awe at the workout that she must get during a TYM session, because in any given moment, she could be crouching over your back, pressing her foot into your hamstring, squeezing the back of your neck with her palms, or some combination of these and more. It definitely takes skill to provide a Thai Yoga Massage.

As she works, I find myself in my own state of bliss. No one can deny the benefit of human touch, and Tammy's calming, Reiki-infused touch is incredible. I immediately feel my heart rate slow down, my blood pressure relax, and my muscles melt down into the floor. For this one hour, I do not have to think...I just have to allow and breathe. I trust Tammy to move my body through the session, and by the end, I feel completely relaxed and ready to move on to the rest of my day. By the end of my session on Wednesday, I found myself wondering why I do not do this more often. Oh, yeah--schedules, money, time. And in those post-TYM bliss moments, I tell myself that there is nothing more important than my wellness, and I need to make time and budget for it accordingly.

Thai Yoga Massage with Tammy Brown: $70/session
TYM Benefits: blissfully priceless

If you would like to try a TYM session, please call us at 802-775-8080.

Thanks, Tammy, for an amazing session, and for being part of the Pyramid team!

William Kelley
Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center

Friday, July 1, 2011

A little piece of Heaven...for $6!!!

It's kind of embarrassing to say but although I work at the Pyramid and am surrounded by wonderful instructors all day long, I almost never get to take a class from another instructor because I am almost always teaching my own classes. But last night the stars lined up and I was able to take Darlene Kepner's Upbeat Yoga class.

Once I recovered from the shock of being able to actually take a class (and I think once Darlene was able to recover from the shock, too!) I spread out my mat and water, turned off my cell phone, and sat down on the floor with the other students. I had honestly never sat on the floor facing that direction, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the mountain view and feel the cooling breeze entering through the third floor windows. In those few minutes, I enjoyed the scene--Darlene happily preparing for her class, checking in with new students and setting the mood with her excellent taste in music. I wasn't sure what to expect for the music from an "upbeat" class, but I soon fell into the rhythmic world music, enjoying the change from the usual new age class music. My breathing slowed down and I found myself slipping into a familiar state of peace.

Darlene has a voice that is so easy to hear and follow. Even her instructions were calming. I felt reassured, because her confidence in her teaching and herself came through. I knew I was in good hands when she started inviting us into her interpretation of the practice of Yoga.

Although the class started gently, it did not take long for me to work up a sweat. Downward dog...chair posture...planks. My type of class! And yet Darlene did a wonderful job of showing alternatives for every level. I watched as even the beginners in the class could follow and enjoy her non-judgmental style. The more advanced participants were also challenged. That is the joy of taking classes in Vermont for me--in more urban areas, there are so many people taking classes that they can split them up by level, so you would choose to attend a beginner, intermediate, or advanced class. But in Vermont, because we do not have the popularion, all levels are usually combined. I enjoy this especially because although I have been practicing Yoga for 20 years and teaching it for over ten, there are days when I want a gentler class...there are times when my body feels like it needs a beginner level. And then there are days when I really want to bust it out and use my practice to release serious stress and build strength. A mixed level class allows you to work at your own pace without feeling pressure to conform to the level of those around you. And although I consider myself a more advanced Yoga student, I wasn't created with the typical "Yoga body" so it is often more work for me than the average person to get into the asanas. In a mixed level class, it is always nice to be reminded of the basic cues, and it is great to see how others challenge themselves. In short, a mixed level class allows you to grow in ways that one might not imagine--and I was definitely not disppointed in Darlene's class.

I have to admit that the class went by quickly. I don't know whether I was just in a zone or I was so craving the experience of taking someone else's class that I was in what positive psychologists call "flow" and the experience of time was dramatically sped up for me. Either way, I watched and learned from Darlene's expert teaching style and had a wonderful time.

As we moved into the final few moments of class, I checked in with my body. I forgot how good it feels to just follow along with someone else leading, and especially when the instructor is as wonderful as Darlene. I felt awesome--energized and relaxed at the same I had just taken a mini-vacation. I looked around at the other students and imagined that they were feeling the same way I was. For a moment, I felt connected to everything and everyone. While that is definitely one of the goals of Yoga practice, I realized how easy it is in this life to feel disconnected. In that moment I realized that too much lately I have felt disconnected. Like many, I've felt more in the flow of work than the flow of the universe. Even instructors can fall into this pattern. As I rested in corpse pose, I felt a disconnected sadness that I had never experienced in my practice before, and I knew that I have to make some changes.

To say that this experience was intense is an understatement. It was one that came just at the right time that I needed it. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this class positively changed my life. And when I think of the small investment that I made--an hour of my time and $6--I feel so blessed to be surrounded by the tools to truly make a difference in my own life and the lives of those around me. Experiencing this class reminded me of why I wanted to keep our class prices at $6 in the first place--because I do not believe that the practice of Yoga should be reserved for the world's elite. Everyone should have access to a class like I took last night. I have so much respect and gratitude for our instructors who have also committed to this mission of affordable instruction.

With Darlene's smile and soothing encouragement, with the energy of the other students, the music, and the beautiful atmosphere of the ballroom studio at the Pyramid, it was easy to see why so many people take classes. And it was easy for me to recommit to myself to make sure that I take classes as often as I can. 

Of course there will always be things that come up--board meetings, emergency clients, facilities issues, and more--but aren't we all worth taking the time to invest in ourselves? 

I cannot wait for my next awesome class with Darlene--and the other wonderful Pyramid instructors. 

Darlene currently teaches Upbeat Yoga on Thursdays at 7 PM, Sun Salutation Sunday on Sundays at 10:30 AM, and Gentle Yoga on Mondays at 4 PM. For the full Pyramid class schedule, please visit our website:

Thank you, Darlene, and thanks to everyone!

William Kelley
Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center and
Pyramid Fitness

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why Nautilus?

As a child, I remember reading in the newspaper that our local YMCA had purchased a line of Nautilus equipment. I remember thinking how scary the equipment looked---and in my head, it was associated with serious body building. I never imagined that someday I would fall in love with Nautilus equipment...I never imagined that I would be someone who would use Nautilus...and I certainly never imagined that I would someday own a fitness center that featured a Nautilus circuit.

Until I was in college, I never fully realized that muscular strength is a huge part of the wellness puzzle. Strong muscules keep us healthy, and even though I especially should do strength training because of my weak genetics, I thought that I would feel totally out of place if I tried to go to a gym. In my head, I had imaginative reasons for not going--I thought that big body builders would make fun of me if I tried to lift weights. But what I did not realize was that Nautilus equipment was designed exactly for me, and everyone else as well!

The people at Nautilus knew that modern Americans were more out of shape than ever due to sedentary lifestyles and unlimited access to low-quality, low-nutrient foods. They also knew that many Americans were like me and afraid of strength training equipment. And most importantly, they knew that Americans had less and less time to dedicate to working out, so they needed to create equipment that would be very efficient, and that is exactly what they did.

The Nautilus circuit is made up of selectorized strength training equipment--that is, pieces of equipment that are geared towards strengthening one part of the body. In a typical circuit of eight to twelve pieces of equipment, the human "machine" works all muscle groups. The circuit is also designed to be completed in around twenty minutes, making it a time-saving workout meant to be done every other day. Basically, in an hour a week, people can reach their fitness goals. Beyond the time benefits, there are other benefits as well:

- Safety--it is nearly impossible to injure yourself on a Nautilus machine
- No need for a "spotter"
- Easy to adjust the machine to your body type
- Easy to quickly and effortlessly change the amount of weight
- Easy to learn and the machine will usually not allow you to use it incorrectly
- Many of the machines offer multiple exercises and work overlapping muscle groups, allowing for a very flexible workout
- Increases shape, size, strength, and endurance of the muscles
- Improves immune system performance
- Increases self-esteem
- Supports body fat loss by speeding up the metabolism, as stronger muscles require more calories to function than weaker muscles
- With Nautilus, you see almost immediate results
- Very little waiting around time, so people are not watching you while you exercise
- Most people find doing Nautilus fun and rewarding

Yet many people, like I used to be, are afraid to try Nautilus. They may fear the size and weight of the equipment, exercising in front of other people, or injuring themselves. They may also think they do not have time to get a real workout.

Serious body builders often believe that Nautilus is for lesser athletes; however, even elite athletes in the professional world use Nautilus because of its versatility.

Whether you are an elite athlete or someone knew to Nautilus, you are sure to get benefit from a genuine Nautilus circuit. At Pyramid Fitness, we have the Nautilus Nitro line, which is the latest generation Nautilus equipment, going through several upgrades since that line that my childhood YMCA purchased.

Come check it out today and you will not be disappointed!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Scientific Research on the use of Himalayan Salt

It wasn't long after the press release went out about Dr. Margaret Smiechowski's Himalayan salt cave opening in Pennsylvania that we started getting bombarded with requests for information from a self-appointed "watchdog" organization in that area whose members were concerned that the use of Himalayan salt in salt caves was a scam. Among other things, these people ridiculed the notion that salt could provide any real benefit, ridiculed Dr. Margaret's "foreign" education, and claimed that no scientific evidence exists to support the use of Himalayan salt. Further, they challenged us to produce even one study that shows beyond a reasonable doubt that there are statistically significant benefits to using the salt. 

The truth is that there are literally dozens of scientific studies that have been conducted over decades that show without any question that there are medical benefits to using Himalayan salt. If this is true, one might wonder why these organizations waste their time trying to discredit speleotherapy and halotherapy?

The answer to this question is fairly complicated. The main reason is because most of these studies were conducted in Europe and Asia and were published in scholarly journals in languages other than English. They are not translated into English and discussed in the US because in general we are putting our research dollars into more traditional, pharmaceutical-based research. Truthfully, Americans do not care about the research of salt. Those who have experienced its benefits do not need to see the multitude of studies that exist--they just know and believe. And those who will not believe no matter what do not want to see the studies. For those who are on the fence, we created this blog entry so you can see what research actually does exist.

Most of the dozens of clinical trials thus far, mainly reported in Russian-language journals, have focused on the use of speleotherapy or halotherapy as a treatment for asthma, chronic bronchitis, a range of respiratory conditions and potentially against systemic diseases. Clinical studies have also been published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2006) demonstrating that the inhalation of saline produces sustained mucus clearance and improved lung function in patients with Cistic Fibrosis. In 1995 the Journal of Aerosol Medicine reported significant improvements in patients with various types of respiratory diseases (bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive and non-obstructive bronchitis, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis) who were treated with halotherapy in a placebo-controlled clinical trial. Here is a small sample of some of the other relevant studies:

Chernenkov RA, Chernenkova EA, Zhukov GV.
The use of an artificial microclimate chamber (salt cave) in the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive lung diseases
Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 1997 Jul-Aug ;( 4):19-21. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 9424823

Chervinskaya AV, Zilber NA.
Halotherapy for treatment of respiratory diseases
J Aerosol Med. 1995 Fall;8(3):221-32.
PMID: 10161255

Gorbenko PP, Adamova IV, Sinitsyna TM.
Bronchial hyperreactivity to the inhalation of hypo- and hyperosmolar aerosols and its correction by halotherapy
Ter Arkh. 1996; 68(8):24-8. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 9019826

Grinshtein IuI, Shestovitskii VA, Kuligina-Maksimova AV.
Clinical significance of cytological characteristics of bronchial inflammation in obstructive pulmonary diseases
Ter Arkh. 2004; 76(3):36-9. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 15108456

Grigor'eva NV.
Halotherapy in combined non-puncture therapy of patients with acute purulent maxillary sinusitis
Vestn Otorinolaringol. 2003;(4):42-4. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 13677023

Abdrakhmanova LM, Farkhutdinov UR, Farkhutdinov RR.
Effectiveness of halotherapy of chronic bronchitis patients
Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2000 Nov-Dec ;( 6):21-4. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 11197648

Maev EZ, Vinogradov NV.
Halotherapy in the combined treatment of chronic bronchitis patients
Voen Med Zh. 1999 Jun; 320(6):34-7, 96. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 10439712

Chervinskaia AV.
The scientific validation and outlook for the practical use of halo-aerosol therapy
Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2000 Jan-Feb ;( 1):21-4. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 11094875

Farkhutdinov UR, Abdrakhmanova LM, Farkhutdinov RR.
Effects of halotherapy on free radical oxidation in patients with chronic bronchitis
Klin Med ( Moscow ). 2000;78(12):37-40. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 11210350

Borisenko LV, et al
The use of halotherapy for the rehabilitation of patients with acute bronchitis and a protracted and recurrent course
Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 1995 Jan-Feb ;( 1):11-5. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 7785211

Roslaia NA, Likhacheva EI, Shchekoldin PI.
Efficacy of therapeutic use of ultrasound and sinusoidal modulated currents combined with halotherapy in patients with occupational toxic-dust bronchitis
Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2001 Jan-Feb ;( 1):26-7. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 11530404

Maliavin AG, Filiaeva IuA, Umakhanova MM, Chervinskaia AV.
Halotherapy-a new treatment for bacterial vaginosis
Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2004 May-Jun ;( 3):35-7. (Article in Russian)
PMID: 15216790

Wark, P.A.B. and V. McDonald (2004), "Nebulised Hypertonic Saline for Cystic Fibrosis," Cochrane Review (abstract), (as of August 3, 2004).

In case these thirteen clinical studies are not enough, the following websites offer additional support:

Tano, L Tano
Salt mine rehabilitation center

If you are still reading, here is something else that might be of interest from Dr. Smiechowski about the mines at Wieliczka:

In 2004, the Wieliczka Salt Mine Underground Rehabilitation and Treatment Centre received the International ISO 9001:2000 Certificate in the Quality Management in health care in the field of treatment of the respiratory system and allergic conditions in adults and children. [Surely this is not granted to institutions using non-scientific methods or quackery?]

Thanks to the agreement signed between the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Jagiellonian University Collegium Medicum and the Academy of Physical Education on co-operation in teaching, research and scientific activities, the Centre is a venue of research on the influence of the special microclimate of the Wieliczka Mine on the human body.

The scientific research conducted at the Centre is supervised by Professor Krystyna Obtułowicz - the head of the UJ Collegium Medicum Allergology department, as the Plenipotentiary of Collegiom's Vice-chancellor for of Co-operation with the Mine.

So you see, much research does exist. 

Do people really think we would waste our time, money, and other resources (not to mention risk our professional reputations) on something that was a scam? While Dr. Margaret had the benefit of growing up in Poland where no one would even think of questioning the benefits of salt, I did not--so when she approached me to build a salt cave at the Pyramid, you better believe I did my research. Although I do not speak Russian, Dr. Margaret was able to summarize the studies for me and it did not take long for me to realize that things like the Salt Cave and Halotherapy Room hold the potential for incredible wellness benefits. I've done the research myself, so I know that even though we must say that these treatments are just for relaxation, I know that they are so much more. People living near salt therapy options in general do not understand the potential they hold, and so we find ourselves trying hard to raise awarenes without violating the rules of the FDA. The other complaint that the watchdog members had was that if these studies exist, why are they not on our Pyramid website? The answer to this is quite simple; because of FDA regulations, we cannot make any medical claims about salt, so it would be wrong for us to advertise it as anything except a relaxation technique. Why would we point to studies on our website that is designed to give people information about what we have to offer that would suggest that salt could be used as a medical treatment?

Of course, it is hard enough in this world to get people to try new things, especially in this economy when you must charge for the service. The watchdog organization members claimed that we were ripping off the public and probably making a lot of money off this scam. At $10 per session, we are hardly getting rich off the Salt Cave. Most days we do not even cover our own expenses to run the cave, but we continue to offer it and other similar treatments because we believe in them, we see them work, and we want to provide people with effective tools to manage their own wellness.

The bottom line is that it is not our job to convince people that they need Himalayan salt. The research is out there if someone wants to take the time to look. The benefits are there if someone wants to take the time to experience it. We actually invited the members of this organization to come have a session on us. They declined.

As I watched them ridicule everything I believe in, I learned some very valuable lessons. There are people out there who are just plain miserable and want to attack others via the Internet for the fun of it and the power that it must make them feel. They do not feel empowered to be well, so they do not want to see anyone else feel empowered, either. And they would rather put their lives in the hands of medical doctors because it is easier to turn that responsibility over to someone else instead of accepting that they have some ability to treat themselves as a complement to regular medicine.

Although I was sad to see this incredibly healing treatment attacked, it was a great opportunity for me to return to the original research that convinced me. Now more than ever, I feel strongly that speleotherapy and halotherapy are two ways that we have as humans to use the power of salt crystals from the earth itself to help us stay well.

Thank you for reading.
Be well!
William Kelley, Ph.D.
Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center