When Dogs Walk Their Humans
When Becky Luce goes out for a walk these days, she is always accompanied by her faithful companion, the erstwhile Brittany, Obi. Since he joined the Luce family last winter, Becky and Obi have explored the hills and dales of the Upper Valley collecting dirt and mud, and enjoying the benefits of an active, healthy lifestyle.
One of their favorite treks is the Hanover Center portion of the Appalachian Trail in Etna, which they love to explore, especially with their friend, Lisa and her Brittany, Obi’s Aunt Maggie. “For every step I take, Obi runs at least 5! He is in constant motion, following scents or chasing after birds or chipmunks – it’s definitely Obi’s happy place.”
What inspires Becky to be physically active? “In 2010, I had bariatric surgery to help me lose weight. After losing 175 pounds, I had my knee replaced in 2012, which made a huge difference in my ability to exercise. I have wanted a dog for a long time, and it made sense to bring Obi into my life for companionship and to have a reason to get outside and be more physically active.” And Obi seems to enjoy their treks, meeting birds, other dogs, and humans along the way. Becky combines walks with Obi and a healthy diet, including a daily protein shake.
A Multi-Sport Lifestyle
As active couples go, Kristen and Paul Coats are a model of how to include physical activity in one’s daily life. Both have full-time jobs and volunteer for their church, yet they manage to fit in long-distance training runs and races, water sports, tennis, skiing, cycling, hiking and backpacking trips, and adventure travel around the world.
Kristen and Paul met playing competitive tennis in Atlanta in 2003. Paul had already moved to Lebanon to begin working as the Program Coordinator at the recreation and parks department, and Kristen arrived in 2005. With a busy work schedule as the Director of Recreation & Parks in Lebanon, Paul looks forward to workouts and recreational activities with Kristen. “We really enjoy each other’s company, and being physically active is a great way for us to spend quality time together.”
Kristen likes the fun aspect of their adventures together. “We encourage each other to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit, practicing healthy eating as well as living an active lifestyle. We usually have a small garden to grow some of our food, and love to cook healthy meals together.” Kristen works at The Haven as the Food and Wellness Coordinator, and previously served as the Community Health Partnership Coordinator at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
A Community of Champions
Thor’s Stone Athletic Club is not your average fitness club. Founded in 2009 by Carl Wallin, who coached Dartmouth throwers for 40 years and has held several national records in masters competitions, the club includes 39 active members from 17-92 years of age. The group trains daily at the Carter Community Building Association in Lebanon, and members compete regionally and nationally in throwing events, Olympic lifting, and powerlifting.
Carl describes his inspiration for starting Thor’s Stone Athletic Club as a desire to give back to the community. “I wanted to give back with something that I knew something about and thought I would be able to help people with. Anybody can join, but they have to compete. I’m a big believer in doing your best, and that’s really what it’s all about.”
Many of the members hold world records in their age groups. “We train together as a community, and everyone helps each other do their best.”
Valerie Thompson of Lebanon, 58, went from never competing in sports to throwing the hammer, shot put, and discus, and holds three world records in powerlifting. Two members can deadlift 300 pounds or more at age 77. “With the people I train, I have no sympathy for gender and age, and I push them as hard as I possibly can. I want them to keep getting stronger and better.”
According to Carl, “You can actually get stronger as you get older.” From 45 minutes to an hour is the optimal time to obtain the maximum training benefit, and members can usually complete a workout in that amount of time. Adds Carl, chuckling, “If they don’t talk a lot.”