Getting off the couch gets easier with fall selection of Birch Bay activities


A group takes part in a POUND fitness course. Photo courtesy of Megan Muse Photography.

By Sarah Sharp

Exercise demands a series of commitments. Sometimes, it starts with the simple task of setting an alarm for your early morning run. Then, you must commit to actually wake up, peel your body out of bed and tread out into the cold world. That’s a lot of commitment before breakfast.

The Birch Bay Activity Center offers alternative forms of exercise – with the added bonus of a group setting (because peer pressure is perhaps the surest way to follow through, or hear about it later from nine of your peers).

Program manager Heidi Holmes encourages Blaine and Birch Bay residents to try out a class this fall. She said one small commitment could lead to a lifetime of fitness.

Holmes said she often hears success stories from center-goers, who tell her they’ve regained their balance and flexibility by attending a class at least once a week.

The center, located at 7511 Gemini Street in Birch Bay, regularly offers these classes:


POUND, the first drumming-inspired workout trend, allows you to “channel your inner rock star” using weighted exercise drumsticks called Ripstix, according to POUND’s website. The Birch Bay Activity Center added two more sessions to keep up with demand, Holmes said.

In October, POUND classmates and interested community members will meet for “POUND and Pour,” a social event with refreshments. An official day or time for the event has not yet been scheduled. Classes occur on Tuesday from 4 to 4:45 p.m., Wednesday from 6 to 6:45 p.m. and Thursday from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Center staff provide childcare on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Zumba at the Blaine Senior Center

Zumba participants of all ages and abilities dance their way to fitness in classes led by instructor Brenda Gelwicks. Zumba remains one of the center’s most popular classes, Holmes said. Classes occur on Monday from 9 to 10 a.m., Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m., Wednesday from 9 to 10 a.m., Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. and Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. A drop-in visit costs $3 per class and six classes cost $15. A Zumba fitness class is also offered at the Birch Bay Activity Center.


The Birch Bay Activity Center boasts a large gymnasium for pickleball tournaments. The center will soon announce the date for a pickleball beginner’s clinic for those hoping to learn the basics of the racquet sport – an amalgamation of badminton, tennis and table tennis.

Currently, beginner classes occur on Monday from 10 to 11:30 a.m., Wednesday from 10 to 1:30 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The court is open to all skill levels on Monday from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m., Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. An advanced-only session is offered on Thursday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Get Fit Club

The Get Fit Club strengthens and tones its members’ upper and lower bodies with high-interval training exercises, some of which involve hand weights, push ups, bands, steps and planks. Children are welcome to join the workout. The club meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 to 8:45 a.m. The cost to join ranges from $3 to drop in to $20 to attend a set of 8 classes.

Shotokan karate

“Just the art of Karate; pure, clean, simple.”

Shotokan draws from traditional Okinawan karate, which originated on the island of Okinawa where the Okinawa people learned open-hand fighting techniques to compensate for the prohibition of weapons.

Instructor Eric Henry teaches students, ranging from 10 years old to adults, at the Birch Bay Activity Center. Shotokan students pay dojo dues, as well as a membership fee to Shotokan Karate of America (SKA), which allows them to participate in grading and SKA events.

Membership costs $75 for the first year, and $100 for the following years. Dues for the class range from $5 for a drop in to $40 per month, or $100 per month for a family. Classes are offered on Tuesday from 5 to 6 p.m. and Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m.


Try your hand at badminton or flaunt your skills on Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Birch Bay Activity Center. Two courts allow badminton players of all skill levels to practice or compete. A $3 drop-in fee grants you access to open badminton play.

Line dance at the Blaine Senior Center

If the music video to Alan Jackson’s “Good Time” speaks to you, then perhaps you should try out a line dancing class. Instructor Brenda Gelwicks welcomes line dancers of all experience levels to join. Classes take place on Monday from 6 to 7 p.m., Tuesday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and Thursday from 9 to 10 a.m. It costs $3 to drop in or $15 for six classes.

Step dance

Holmes describes step dance as “one sweaty workout.” The aerobic dance workout, led by Melissa Salhus, occurs on Thursdays from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. at the Birch Bay Activity Center. Class participants pay a $3 drop-in fee.

Ballroom dance

Some seasoned dancers have been ballroom dancing in the class since it first started in 2012, Holmes said. But dances rotate each month, allowing dancers to continue learning and refreshing. Instructors Wendy and Megan Bloom lead the class on Tuesday from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $45 per person.

Preschool gymnastics

Preschool gymnastics allows children from 18 months to 5 years old to roll, run, tumble, climb and jump. The free class is offered at the Blaine Pavilion on Friday from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.

Gentle Yoga for Seniors at the Blaine Senior Center

Relax and meditate with a yoga class every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Bring $5 to join the class at the Blaine Pavilion.

Most classes are family-friendly or provide childcare. Two new classes, country heat and hip hop dance, will be coming in September. Times have not yet been scheduled.

Visit the Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation website or contact the Birch Bay Activity Center at 360/656-6416 for more information on upcoming events and classes.

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