Any fitness enthusiast would understand you might want to go check out a fitness camp on your vacation or off day. I’ve met so many enthusiastic people over the years, & I’m always up for a norepinephrine surge.
I had crossed paths with 2 ladies, Esmin Feliciano, & Dacia Lucas. I’d see occasional posts pop up on fitness or goals, and am always up for a good laugh. These two produce both a positive vibe and welcoming manner. When they invited me up to CT for the camp. I had to see if I could get my schedule to accommodate it. When I got my schedule swapped, I told some friends I was going, and invited a work friends, & a few others I’ve crossed paths with that I thought might like it.
Sometimes I feel I annoy people with my energy on fitness, so I didn’t ask every friend. (I just didn’t want to drive anyone up the wall). Unfortunately, everyone was tied up that weekend, & “the pack” in Suffield said they could come next year.
The camp itself was very well organized. The magazine that supports the project, Strong Fitness Magazine, is out of Canada. Ambassador for this project in CT is Dacia Lucas.
I was unsure if the issues around Covid were going to allow anyone from Canada (or the magazine) to be in Connecticut.
Gyms in Canada were shut down a whole year. Ireland was nailed to the wall, too, (with gym shutdowns and much more). If you’ve put your life savings into a gym, restaurant , bar or anything else, we all know that’s a “double heinous” storm to weather.. I am remaining hopeful the worst is behind us. I had already cut spending & was preparing for what could be darker times when Covid shutdowns hit.
The event in Suffield was nothing but “positive fabulous”. I walked into the lobby of the hotel right before the meet and greet. Dacia was there chatting with a few girls & such a scream that she thought I was going to be shorter in person ((I’m close to 5’7” without heels).
The meet and greet was great, with a spread of clean eats, eats to enjoy and hard & soft spirits to drink. I met so many fun ladies. A grandmother from Rhode Island, a border patrol officer from upstate NY, a CT police officer & grandmother (whose daughter runs a hair salon with friends), a yoga instructor & fitness trainer mom who runs her own studio in the Midwest ( & will be doing a upcoming Strong Camp ), a couple of nurses, a IBFF pro athlete & grandmother, and so many more. (I hope they’re all there next year).
Lunch for the entire group on day 1 was donated by retired USAF pilot, Chris Bigelow, widower to a STRONGCAMPER who passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. We enjoyed having him there and were all very grateful for a nice lunch.
The camp on day 1 ran till 4:30, with breaks for water, lunch and the restroom. The gym, Suffield Fitness Factory, (@Suffieldfitnessfactory) was spotless. Not a speck of dirt on any mat, and restrooms were spotless, too. Hand sanitizers were all around each wall, I noticed fresh paint (or crisp appearance) on the walls, too. Digital clocks were around.
Sponsors included J Dog Junk Removal, Westfield, MA (@Jdogwestfield), Beth Reale Foundation, (@thebethrealefoundation), Popover Bakery & Bistro, Simsbury, CT (@popoversimabury), Good Wipes @goodwipes, American Dream Nut Butter, @americandreamnutbutter, Froning Farms @froningfarms, Curves & Combat Boots @crvs.apparel, Shrewd Food @shrewdfoodco
Dacia was very creative in things to do at the camp She had use blindfolds on one exercise for the length of time that NY & NJ firemen were going up the towers. This would a simulate the conditions that were dark, & it was to commemorate 9/11. (This Strong Camp event was being held on 9/11). While we were blindfolded, we held the plank and held a contest to see who could go the longest. I was a tad “weak in the abs” and shut it down after about 5 minutes. Several ladies held it for 10 minutes and there were 2 girls who went over 20 minutes with the plank. (There we’re roughly 40 ladies in attendance). I was amazed and excited they did it (as well as the rest of the crew).
The next class we did was “Pound”. I had never tried a pound class, and had a ball. Everyone grabbed drumsticks and we headed outside to get a mat, and while “jamming” to rock, pop and R&B songs, we beat the mat with drumsticks while doing lunges or kicks. I was a tad worried on my coordination as I wanted to stay in line with the gang. It was a fabulous rehash & memory of my aerobics days at Exercise Studio South (in my teens) in Jacksonville, FL, or Bally Health & Fitness, (n my college days), in Orlando. (I did high impact aerobics in the 80’s & 90’s )
I hadn’t ever done a kickboxing class, either, so that was another first at the camp, too. (With such an energetic instructor, & well organized music). I was going “broad range” and tried not to mess up kicks.
Other forms of fitness included flipping tractor tires, pushing vehicles in pairs of 2 or 3, and handstands up against trucks. I was cracking up at 2 ladies who kept it going. I passed on doing the handstands, and maybe I’ll do that next year.
Paul Buceta, chief photographer Strong Fitness Magazine was there. I had met Paul and his wife Kim up in Toronto back in 2019. His studio there in Canada is amazing, with natural and studio lighting & it all comes with a sense of humor to go along with getting pics done well. I didn’t know he was going to be “shooting film” specifically with the camp, but was so happy we had a sunny day. If it had been raining, the pound class wouldn’t have happened outside and that’s the picture the mag used of me. It’s so very special. I’m extremely grateful to be in the magazine. It’ll be framed when I have time, and hung on my office next to pictures of NYC Marathon Founder, George Hirsch, The Gronkowski’s, & ‘68 Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, & #IronStrength founder, Jordan Metzl, MD.
I’m retired from most of my modeling ventures and used to hate it when people would ask me what I was paid (when I did work on any paid campaigns). My response was always “I don’t discuss rates”. The last paid campaign I worked was back in 2019, in my hometown in FL. My agent, Vicki Foley, got me the job. I was not paid for the Suffield event in CT. I was there at the STRONGCAMP primarily to mingle & workout. It’s my pleasure to promote anything for this camp, free on gratis.
I was happy to see Paul working in the United States again. I still do photo shoots now and then to stay motivated to train in the gym. Fitness brings work to the US. Most people want to work with people who have positive energy,. Paul is a positive vibe. He flies to many states for photo shoot jobs, marketing at expos , & continues the “octane overdrive” legacy that the late Robert Kennedy (founder of Oxygen Magazine), set rolling years ago. Robert worked on projects with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and knew Jack Lalanne, too. . Robert had hysterical editorials (and a clear cut description to his way of fitness and running his magazine). I never met Robert in person, but I used to always read his editorials and laugh. Paul knew Robert when Robert ran events in LA & Vegas & said he brought lotsa work to the US.. The stories are a scream. Paul & I didn’t have enough time to chat at the CT camp, but I hope to at the next round.
Next years CT camp will be as much a blast as this years. I’m hoping a gym in FL will take interest in a STRONGCAMP.
May your skies be blue, your pastures stay green & your outlook stay positive. Come see a Strong Fitness camp someplace near you, or organize your own STRONGCAMP in your hometown with the magazine. (Contacts for this are listed in the magazine).
To buy a magazine at a retailer, check large chain grocery stores such as Publix (@Publix), Whole Foods, or Barnes & Noble bookstore. You can always check online, too.
#StrongCampSuffieldConnecticut #gymfitnesstraining #StrongFitnessMagazineCanada #workhardlaughharder #SuffieldFitnessFactory #JDogJunkRemoval #BethRealeFoundation #PopoverBakeryBistro #GoodWipesSuffieldConnecticut #AmericanDreamNutButter #FroningFarms #CurvesAndCombatBoots #ShrewdFood #kickboxingclasses #WeightAndFitnessTraining