Teachers shed frustrations with fitness class


For two hours two days a week, upbeat music blares from the Brownstown Elementary School gymnasium.

Kristina Samples is at the front of the room leading people through a variety of dance moves with yoga mats and light hand weights nearby.

The participants also have water bottles to cool themselves down throughout the workout and towels to wipe off the sweat.

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After the hourlong workout, they may be a little tired and sweaty, but they feel better about themselves.

One could say they feel toned and fabulous, going off of the name of the class, Toned and Fab.

For Samples and the people in her class, it’s good to take an hour away from the daily grind of life.

“When you’re in a classroom all day with kids and then you go do this, you completely forget about your day,” said Samples, a Spanish teacher at Brownstown Central High School. “Bad or good, you just stop thinking about work, and you start doing this. It frees my mind.”

Samples said eight years ago, she started taking a Zumba class, which is a fitness program consisting of dance and aerobic exercise routines performed to music.

She said she liked it so much that three years ago, she decided to become an instructor.

“Ever since I started working out, it became kind of a passion, I guess,” she said. “It’s even more fun when you get to be the one teaching it. I guess that’s why I teach because I like being up in front teaching people new things. Plus, it makes you feel good physically and mentally.”

She received cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and began leading a small group of teachers in a class at the high school.

“I didn’t know anybody in Brownstown that offered any kind of fitness classes,” she said.

Then she was asked to also lead classes at the Scott County Family YMCA in Scottsburg.

The classes started out just known as workouts, and Samples later named it Toned and Fab.

“When I began, all I knew was Zumba, so it was just dance,” she said. “The more I got comfortable with it, I kind of put my own spin on it, and now, it’s more toning and dance, so it has changed a lot. The moves are based on Zumba, but it’s a mixture because it’s not all dancing. We use weights, and we use yoga mats, as well.”

Initially, she taught classes at the high school four or five days a week and averaged about eight people. Occasionally, double that number showed up.

With other groups needing to use that space after school, Samples found the perfect location in the elementary gymnasium because it’s almost always available.

She later changed the class to two days a week and added a class that started around 5 p.m. to try to draw in people from the community.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the first class goes from 4 to 5 p.m., and the second one is from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m.

“The 5 o’clock class is basically no teachers, but I’ve only had about six or seven girls who are here,” she said. “I am hoping to double that and get the word out.”

Jill Carlin also leads classes from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays in the high school auditorium lobby.

Samples said Toned and Fab is open to anyone of any age. While all of her classes at the school consist of women, she said a couple of men do the classes at the YMCA, which is from 5:30 to 6:25 p.m. Wednesdays and from 9 to 10 a.m. Sundays.

The cost for each class at the school is a freewill offering, but the classes at the YMCA are open to anyone with a membership.

“I think if more people knew about it, I really think they would come,” Samples said.

Three-pound light hand weights are optional, but everyone should bring a yoga mat, a towel and a bottled water.

“If you’re not that advanced in your routine or your workout routine, you can do it without weights,” Samples said. “You definitely have to have a yoga mat to do the weight stuff and water and a towel to wipe the sweat off.”

She said she doesn’t want anyone to feel intimidated when they come into the class, so they can come at any time and stay for however long they wish.

“They can come for 20 minutes, 30 minutes,” she said. “They can come at the beginning of the class. They can come at the end of class. It’s kind of an open-door policy whenever you want to come.”

Samples said there are several benefits to the class.

“Even if you don’t want to lose weight, you’re still going to get your heart rate up, and you’re going to feel better,” she said. “Plus, you get the social aspect, too, meeting people.”

Mary Jane Steinkamp said she has been going to Toned and Fab for a couple of years, while Michelle Elliott has gone the past nine months.

Both Brownstown women said they heard about it through co-workers and friends.

“The first class, I was nervous. I was a mess doing all of the moves,” Steinkamp said. “It’s hard at first, but now, it makes me feel good. I wouldn’t miss. I don’t want to miss it.”

Elliott agreed that the moves were hard at first.

“The first night, I wanted to just leave. I’m like, ‘I’m never going to get this,’” she said, smiling. “But it’s fun now. I look forward to it. They would all tell me, ‘If you mess up, you get back in routine and go on.’ That’s what you do.”

Both women encourage others to give the class a try.

“They should come,” Steinkamp said. “It’s a stress reliever, and when you feel bad at the end of the day, if you would just come here and work out, you feel awesome when you leave. It is a very good option to have. Everyone should take us up on it.”

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Kristina Samples leads Toned and Fab, an exercise class that mixes choreographed dance steps and light hand weights and mat work for a whole body-toning workout. It’s a mixture of strength and cardio suitable for beginners and advanced.

Classes are from 4 to 5 p.m. and from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday in the gymnasium at Brownstown Elementary School, 612 S. Base Road, Brownstown.

Jill Carlin also leads classes from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays in the auditorium lobby at Brownstown Central High School, 500 N. Elm St., Brownstown.

Anyone is welcome. The cost is a freewill donation.

Samples also teaches Toned and Fab at the Scott County Family YMCA, 805 Community Way, Scottsburg. It’s from 5:30 to 6:25 p.m. Wednesdays and from 9 to 10 a.m. Sundays.

Information: Call 812-292-4152 or look up Kristi “Peters” Samples on Facebook and send her a message