Thursday, December 19, 2013

ATTENTION ARC EMPLOYEES: Work Out for Free at Stanley Street Fitness Center

Q: What do athletes from the Rochester Red Wings, Baltimore Orioles, Buffalo Sabres, Olympic gold medal speed skater Cathy Turner, and Arc of Livingston-Wyoming employees have in common?

A: Our agency's own Gary Buchanan.

These days, Gary keeps busy as a Life Skills Assistant in our Recreation program.  But during the late 70s and early 80s, he was employed at a Rochester fitness center, where his duties included conditioning of top athletes during rehabilitation or their sports' off-seasons.

Now, Gary is bringing his world-class personal training and strength conditioning expertise to fellow employees as the newest addition to the Stanley Street Fitness Center.  His services are free to Arc employees, and available by appointment by calling 658-2828 ext. 335 or emailing

And that's just part of what the Stanley Street Fitness Center has to offer.  Located at 66 Stanley Street in Mount Morris, the facility features a full Nautilus equipment room; open gym perfect for walking or basketball; cardio room with treadmills, ellipticals and more; and free weights in a room that has also hosted popular yoga classes. 

Use of the Stanley Street Fitness Center is free to Arc employees.  December hours are 4pm until 7pm, Monday through Friday.  Visitors need only to show a valid agency ID, and read and sign a one-time health and safety waiver.

Since the Wellness Committee opened the fitness center on November 2nd, more than 25 Arc employees have worked out there.  The facility is currently in the middle of a 3-month evaluation period; permanent hours and availability will be determined by early February, based on facility usage and employee feedback.

The early word is positive, with Arc employees praising the casual, supportive atmosphere of the Stanley Street Fitness Center.

"Traditional gyms can be intimidating," says Judy Welch, Coordinator of Vocational Services at Hilltop.  "Some of the people working out can make you feel like you don't know what you're doing, and some people just hog the machines.  Those pressures don't exist at the Stanley Street gym.  People are encouraging of each other."

Hilltop Case Manager Crik Christophel agrees. 

"I was reluctant to go because I had never been to a gym, and I had no knowledge of how to run on a treadmill," says Crik, who gave the gym a try because it is on her way home to Nunda.  "I always had this picture of people decked out in special gym clothes.  It wasn't that way at all.  It's low key and relaxed."

Crik now goes to the Stanley Street Fitness Center about three times a week, and has even taken advantage of Gary's personal training expertise.

"I feel good after I leave," she says.  "The time goes fast.  I look forward to going, which surprises me."

Hilltop Office Manager Sally Urbonas, who previously worked at the Wyoming County YMCA, oversees operations at the Stanley Street Fitness Center.  The facility is staffed by participants in The Arc's Supported Employment program, creating jobs for people we serve.  In their positions as Fitness Center Attendants, their duties and responsibilities include opening and closing the facility, ensuring that users sign in and out, facility walk-throughs, and keeping the equipment clean.

Uptown Day Habilitation program participants have also enriched the gym, by creating motivational signs that are hung throughout the facility.  The posters were made with input and guidance from Life Skills Assistant Kristine Burdick, a regular user of the Fitness Center who also donated two televisions to help enhance the cardio and free weight areas.  Plans are to add DVD capabilities to play instructional videos for small group workouts.

"I'm just super excited that the agency is providing this," says Kristine, who was bitten by the fitness bug since embarking on her own weight loss journey.  Kristine lost 110 pounds from her peak weight of about 250 pounds, and has kept the weight off for about two years.

The Arc Wellness Committee is looking into adding new offerings at the Stanley Street Fitness Center in 2014.  Some of the possibilities include cardio kickboxing and/or Zumba sessions, Wellness Committee Chair Christa Hartigan says.

Whatever your preferred means of exercise, an important key to success is a smart, dedicated attitude — advice that applies whether you're an elite athlete or a first-time user of The Arc's Stanley Street Fitness Center.

"What you need to do is build a strong foundation, like you're building a house," Gary says.  "If you're not already used to exercise, then you should take it slow.  You need to learn the equipment to get the most out of it. Then you can advance to the next level, including adding new machines."

Questions or comments about the Stanley Street Fitness Center?  Contact Sally at 658-3311 ext. 255 or surbonas@


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