New Vergennes fitness studio to offer workout classes

VERGENNES — On Labor Day weekend, another new Vergennes fitness venture will join Vermont Sun Fitness Center in the Kennedy Brothers Factory Marketplace building.
On Sept. 4, Vintage Fitness Studio of Vermont, the brainchild of married Vergennes chiropractors Kimberly O’Boyle Palmer and Joel Palmer, will open in 1,500 square feet across the second-story hallway from Vermont Sun’s 3,000-square-foot city branch.
In January, Vermont Sun became the first major tenant in the North Main Street building’s second story since Kennedy Brothers president Win Grant closed his business’s antique center six years ago. The two fitness ventures will be leasing more than half the brick building’s 8,000-square-foot second level.
Kimberly Palmer, a longtime Vermont Sun member, said she sees the two ventures as “traffic-building” for Kennedy Brothers. Vintage Fitness will offer group workouts, typically requiring participants to use “kettle bells,” round weights with handles, while moving.
Vermont Sun, she said, more often offers individual workouts, although she and Vermont Sun owner Steve Hare have discussed his renting the Palmers’ space for yoga or dance fitness classes.
“It’s complementary,” Palmer said. “I’d like to see more people doing something, one or the other.”
Until recently, the Palmers did not foresee a new business. Kimberly Palmer, a Peacham native, and Joel Palmer, from South Glens Falls, N.Y., met in a Chicago chiropractic school. The parents of three boys, they bought their Green Street practice in 1990.
But two years ago a friend introduced them to kettle bells, which Kimberly Palmer said are of Russian origin. Joel Palmer researched their use, and incorporated the couple’s already extensive knowledge — Kimberly is a certified weight-training specialist through the National Strength and Weight Training Association — into a workout program they and a few friends started in the Palmers’ East Street yard.
“We picked up a few kettle bells, and then our friends went and bought their own kettle bells … And then the weather became kind of lousy, and we wanted to continue what we were doing, so we started calling around,” said Kimberly Palmer in an interview at Kennedy Brothers this week.
They landed in the Vergennes Union Elementary School gym on Sundays. Palmer said she or Joel would create new routines using ropes and calisthenics as well as the kettle bells, and their circle of friends expanded.
“Before you knew it we had 30 people there on a Sunday,” she said. “It was just this organic growth of it we did not expect at all. People were having fun, and they were getting great results, and it was something they’d never done before.”
Then another 30 people started asking if the Palmers could offer the workout at other times.
“Now we were talking about making it more convenient for other people. Now it’s a business,” Palmer said.
That led them to the brick-walled former industrial building on North Main Street.
“I just love the space,” Palmer said.
The Palmers planned to debut on Labor Day weekend, with demonstration classes on Saturday and Sunday mornings. They will then offer only drop-in classes for a couple weeks, and then in mid-September add regular programs. For regular attendees, the cost per hour-long class will come in at less than $9. Classes will be limited to 16 people, allowing personal attention, Palmer said. (Information is available at www.vintagefitstudio.com or 877-9969.)
Palmer said people can expect “old-style training” and “cutting-edge science” without mirrors.
“I want people to know intuitively their form is good. Because there are no mirrors when you’re lifting your kid or getting grain out of your truck,” Palmer said. “You need to know what good form is neurologically.”
All workouts will involve strength training, but all will vary.
“You’re always challenging your body in a different way, and it’s always about some sort of resistance, whether that resistance be gravity or some sort of weight,” Palmer said.
Workouts could include calisthenics, rope work, and step-up boxes as well as different sizes of weights.
“We do movements where we incorporate the entire body. I tell people you don’t bench press your refrigerator when you try to move it,” Palmer said.
The Palmers also believe the group setting is productive.
“(People) are pushing themselves when they’ve got a peer next to them willing to do one more, and there’s camaraderie,” Palmer said.
And they believe it is effective for all ages.
“There’s modifications to everything that makes it very sensitive to whatever age or fitness level you’re at,” Palmer said.
She sees the workouts as preparing people for healthier lives.
“I’m always telling people, women in particular, who are hesitant about weight training, the size of the weight, the bulk of their muscles, that we’ll take a little five-pound dumbbell and do whatever we do with a five-pound dumbbell, and then they’ll go home to lift their 45-pound toddler,” she said. “What we do here is train you to lift your 45-pound toddler.”
Of course, if some have classic workout motives, Palmer said that’s fine, too: One group of women has already told her why they plan to sign up.
“They’re all going to go buy swanky cocktail dresses,” she said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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