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‘It’s just getting started’

County’s free class stresses building blocks to fitness

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: Burlington County Parks’ fitness class TOBATA by Toby, led by Toby Richardson (fourth from right), is designed to help residents focus on improving cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance.

Burlington County Parks’ fitness class TOBATA by Toby is a way for residents to focus on improving cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance at the county’s Lyceum.

Instructor Toby Richardson leads the free, six-week class, and became involved through Heather Scotto, program coordinator of special events for the parks system.

“I love the connection with people,” Richardson said. “This actually gave me a good outlet because with Zoom, you don’t see anybody. Everything is just so impersonal, and I feel so mechanical, but it’s nice to feed off of people.”

Richardson’s classes include featured movements done in intervals followed by a rest period.

“It’s mostly toning, not as much cardio,” he explained. “I seem to attract more of an older section, so again I’m reading the room. Just judge the room. Sometimes you hit … I have had more hits than misses. We have had a few that didn’t work, but we go on and fix the negative.”

Richardson accompanies his classes with different types of music.

“I’m not Spanish, but I love Spanish music,” he noted. “I go old school, too, again reading the room. In this setting, I try not to go too modern; no house music or anything like that.”

Richardson bases his workouts on Tabata, or what is described as a type of high-intensity interval training.

“It’s like 20 seconds of a movement, and then you have a 10-second rest, and then you go back to doing it again,” he said. “So, it’s like a four-minute segment and it’s eight, 20-second work segments. Then you have a 10-second rest.”

“It kind of gives you a structure, and I’ve found through the years that it just works for me,” Richardson added. “It takes a little less thought; you don’t have to worry about counting as much.”

The most important part for Richardson is seeing people enjoy Tabata.

“The end goal is to get you moving,” he pointed out. “We’re hoping that this is a ground, building, building, building blocks, and so you have to have a good foundation. For anything that grows, you have to start somewhere, so it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”

TOBATA by Toby is one of many fitness programs offered by the county and Scotto likes that it shows people what they’re capable of.

“That’s what I love about doing fitness programs, because when people aren’t sure, they can come out and try the class, and then they find out that they really can do it or Toby adjusts it,” she said. “And they really feel good about joining in fitness.”

One of Richardson’s main goals is to help people be better than they were yesterday.

“It’s just getting started,” he remarked. “I tell so many people, ‘It’s just getting started.’ You build up all these roadblocks and how you can’t do it and all that other stuff, but just do something.”

Visit https://www.co.burlington.nj.us to register for TOBATA by Toby on Dec. 13 at 10 a.m.

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