Driving out to Haiku to workout, I paused to look at the old to-go coffee cups and empty Pop Tart wrappers in my car. Though I strive for healthy lifestyle, bad habits creep back in like roaches.
I’m heading to Upcountry Fitness to work out and figure out more healthy fitness habits that I can incorporate into my schedule. An hour later I’m doing an airlifted back-bend, balancing over the feet of my union yoga instructor, Brian Shoen.
“It’s the customers that drive what we do here,” says Meaghan Spitler, partner and manager at Upcountry Fitness. “The classes on our schedule are customized to what they are requesting.”
The gym’s union yoga, a branch of partner yoga developed by Jeff Von Schmauder, is also unique. The yoga has applications similar to acroyoga developed with a very Maui feel – the names of the arm holds and poses are all in Hawaiian.
Shoen started my most recent class with serene advice: “Embrace your wobble,” he said. “Depend on your partner to be there for you.”
You don’t have to bring a partner in class to participate, and bodies of any size and ability are welcome. I love this yoga practice because I never know what will happen next. The adrenaline really kicks in when you’re balancing on someone’s feet while doing an aerial asana. You may even forget that you’re getting fit. In between switching from the makai (foundation person in the pose) to the mauka (the person floating on top), my muscle groups were worked like never before. The class energizes and stretches hard to access muscle groups.
According to Spitler, the gym added on the classroom in July 2010. Last year they also added the keiki fit zone, which includes a four-story kid maze jungle gym. This has become extremely popular, giving moms a chance to work out, and now the gym has made it available for nonmembers to bring their kids and play. The gym is also building a new and improved classroom that should be done by March.
Isaak Tyrrell, general manager and partner, designed the gym’s Fuzion Fit course, which features cross training on machines in a class environment. There are two stations of cardio and two stations of strength training. These have taken off and become so popular the concept has branched off into several classes that just focus on certain parts of the body. With 18 Fusion Fit options through the week, this is one of the most popular offerings in the classroom environment.
The gym has recently hosted a group of water sports athletes who love the gym’s world-class training and Upcountry feel. Advanced machines like the Power Plates provide accelerated training techniques because they work so many muscle fibers at one time. Power plate machine training is also recommended for osteoporosis, menopause, fibromyalgia and injury rehabilitation. All members who wish to use the Power Plates become certified by a trainer.
The gym uses the natural cool air of Haiku for cooling, and it has a fresh approach to their floor plan: the cardio machines greet you at the front door where the air flows in. The gym also has weight training free-motion machines operated with pulleys, a free form room, a weight room with dumbells and a small rock-climbing wall.
“We wanted to create an environment open to everyone,” Spitler says. “You don’t have to be an athlete. We are not exclusive. We want levels of access for all different people.”
Their new website Upcountryfitness.com outlines all of their services including massages in their zen den.
Of course, working out in a gym may not be for everyone. Running outdoors is a great way to get fit, and it relies solely on your feet. For extra motivation Valley Isle Road Runner (virr.com) offers a social run schedule. Their upcoming Valentines Day “For the Love of Maui” 5K can be a fun way to get fit. They also list other opportunities to race like the Run and Walk with the Whales on Feb. 4.
Makawao Yoga offers Yoga 101 workshops for free on the second Saturdays of the month. They also offer a $20 for 10 days package for kama’aina.
Paia Yoga also offers the same deal. Their lululemon community class (free) Sundays at 5pm is also a great intro to yoga, as is the spectacular final Friday community yoga class at Hotel Wailea.
Photo by Sean M. Hower