‘You’re good where you are’

Fitness Flow helps people develop strength and flexibility

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: “There are many, many ways you can incorporate some type of exercise into your daily life without having to leave your home,” says fitness instructor Lori Richardson.

The Burlington County Parks System is offering a variety of health programs that include nature walks; country line dancing; and Fitness Flow, a new class held indoors on Thursday afternoons.

Instructor Lori Richardson and her husband teach fitness classes for the county, but Richardson started through her husband’s connection to Heather Scotto, program coordinator of special events for the Burlington County Parks System.

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“We are (at) very different levels,” Richardson said of the couple. “I’m a little more intense, so figuring this out is a little bit of a challenge.”

With only a mat as equipment, Richardson takes people through a full-body workout working all their muscle groups, but also incorporates a little bit of cardio to get their heart rate up a little.

“I’ll always add some core work in the end, stretching and cooling down also,” she explained.

Richardson has been working in fitness since 1998, but also works full time as a dispatcher for the state police. Instructing is something she likes to do for fun, and she stepped into the role by attending classes that involved dancing.

“I would take a lot of classes,” she recalled, “and the woman who was the coordinator at that time approached me and said, ‘Hey, do you think this is something you would like to do?’ And I said yes, and ever since then, it’s been a part of my life.”

Socializing with residents and getting to know their personalities is something Richardson loves about her job, but she also likes helping people, specifically women, find out what their fitness goals are and how to work toward them.

“I think it’s very difficult for women who are maybe on the upper echelon or women who have just had children, or maybe have never been in a gym before,” Richardson observed. “I like to try to connect with them on some level, whether it’s as a mother, as a woman, and just try to help them know that whatever you have, it’s enough.”

Richardson and her spouse taught classes remotely during COVID so they could maintain a connection with clients. But she believes that nothing is better than learning in person.

“Being here, I love face-to-face connection,” Richardson pointed out. “I love that I’m kind of back in socialization, because I’m a very social person. So I just really, really enjoy this aspect of it, like physically being with people again.”

Fitness Flow is a 60-minute interval group fitness class that incorporates a variety of cardio, muscular strength and endurance activities, and is geared to all fitness levels for those who want to develop strength and flexibility. 

Seeing a client’s physical and mental transformation from the first class on is humbling and rewarding for Richardson.

“I mostly deal with women, and being a woman, I know how things in society are,” she maintained. “So when I see – especially younger women – feeling good about themself and about how they look and they realize, ‘I don’t need to be a size 2 to feel good about the way I look or feel attractive.’”

Richardson wants people to understand that starting a fitness journey doesn’t have to be hard.

“You don’t have to be in a gym setting to be working out, and I think people feel that, that they need to go to a gym to work out,” she said. “You don’t need to be in a gym. You can walk outside … 

“There are many, many ways you can incorporate some type of exercise into your daily life without having to leave your home.”

To register for a Fitness Flow class or any of the county park’s programs, visit www.co.burlington.nj.us.

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