Fitness Can Be Fine With a Touch Of ‘Star Wars’


Staff Writer

As fitness instructors focus on fulfilling customers’ desires to act out their dreams, customers are finding niche classes where they can get fit their own way.

Two classes in the Ohio Valley offer such opportunities.

For those who have dreamed of fighting alongside a small band of rebels as Jedi do in some “Star Wars” movies, there’s a series of courses that teach light sabre combat skills at Stone Martial Arts in Wheeling’s Washington Avenue Shopping Plaza.

If dancing and getting a longer, leaner body appeals to a heart’s desire, then the Barre 60 yoga class at Source Yoga studio in St. Clairsville provides a sweat and stretch with a calming, yoga finish.

“It’s a nice toning and lengthening workout” that takes place at the ballet barre — a bar mounted on a mirrored wall, said Manager Nicole Snodgrass of the yoga studio that’s located at Source Fitness gym, 68120 Tinmar Drive in St. Clairsville.

“It’s a creative way to work out,” said Source Fitness Manager James Cowart. The yoga studio is located in the same building as Source Fitness gym. “A lot of people who have a background in dancing or cheering, want flexibility, and (sometimes) yoga’s not not a fast enough pace.”

Barre Instructor Dana Applegate teaches the 45-minute class to eight to 14 students at 10:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

But there are also opportunities to get a taste of barre during a class called High Intensity Interval Barre — HIIB.

Barre helps isolate certain muscle groups, but it’s not as strenuous as aerobics or Zumba, Cowart said. “If you look in on a class, you’d think you were watching a dance class.”

Although the studio offers memberships, participants don’t have to be a member to attend. Anyone can drop in. And there’s a 10-class pass available and other special offers, as well, Snodgrass said.

Light-sabre combat instructor John Gillen of Benwood admits he’s into “Star Wars.”

“I’m an avid ‘Star Wars’ fan who did a lot of my own research” in developing the classes, he said.

He began a recent class with a basic martial-arts instruction position: all students facing him, with their weapons at a resting position.

The students’ weapons are actually made of foam, but that day, Gillen used his $230 Ultra Sabre.

Then, he shows them the Soresu flare, “a draw beckoning opponents to approach.”

Gillen instructs on seven styles of combat featured in different “Star Wars” movies, including Atari. “You can see shades (of this style) in Episode IV,” he said.

Gillen offers six different courses, each consisting of eight classes, said Stone Martial Arts’ co-owner Jacob Stone of Bethlehem.

He and Lisa Stone, his wife, who are both students of light sabre combat, hosted the first course last year, and their first set of students is already in their second. But courses for a new group of students are planned this spring, he said.

Gillen, a student of martial arts since 1986, said his light sabre combat instruction, although not affiliated with Lucas Arts, is a mix of martial arts practices and canon lore of “Star Wars.”

“It can be bridged to a variety of sword combat techniques,” as well, he said.

His students are fans of the “Star Wars” history and lore, and some are here for exercise and fitness, and some to learn combat techniques.

Some are nerds who really want to invest in the “Star Wars” traditions.

The one-hour classes attract students who are a mix of ages, including children and adults, men and women.

For more information on Barre 60 yoga, its other yoga classes, or the gym, call Source Fitness at 740-695-0215, or visit www.sourcefitness247.com. Yoga studio memberships include membership to the gym, as well, said Source Fitness Manager James Cowart.

For information on the combat courses and on Stone Martial Arts’ other offerings including Tae Kwon Do, call Stone Martial Arts at 304-238-8083.


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