Friday, December 5, 2014

A Recipe for Workout Success with Katherine Tremblay

By Dena Testa Bray
Upper Valley Aquatic Center Member and Gathering Flavors Blogger

When I was asked if I would consider writing a post for the UVAC blog, I didn't hesitate. 

For quite some time now, I have been meaning to write about my experiences at Upper Valley Aquatic Center, in particular my work with Katherine Tremblay. I joined UVAC shortly after it opened to swim. While I knew the facility had a lot more to offer beyond the pool, I was at a point in my life when I was tired of going to gyms and attending fitness classes. An aerobics class fanatic in the 80's (what can I say...we all were doing it after seeing Flashdance), I craved the quiet and meditative aspects of swimming laps on my own. But, things had to change when I was diagnosed with osteoporosis last fall and my physician recommended I add more weight-bearing exercise to my exercise routine. I decided it was finally time to use my free training session and I met with Katherine.

Katherine is unlike any fitness instructor I have known. Don't get me wrong. I have met and worked with many wonderful and talented people over the years. What is unique about Katherine is the dynamic combination of expertise and optimism she brings to her work. She's a spitfire. She's grounded. She's taught me to believe in my own strength and to take the fear out of trying new things. She and I worked one-on-one for 4 months, then I 'graduated' to taking her fitness classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. They are hard. They are challenging. They are fun. They are full of camaraderie and laughter. Invariably, I leave her classes a better person than when I walk in and I bring her enthusiasm with me throughout my day.

Katherine and I also share a love of cooking and eating well. We often exchange recipes and new ideas on ways to prepare healthful meals. This recipe for Winter Greens Salad with Tahini and Lime Dressing is one I know Katherine would love. Rich and nutritious kale leaves are massaged with a dressing of tahini and lime then tossed with dried fruits and honey roasted peanuts. The salad is delicious on its own, but can be made a part of a full meal when served with a hot soup such as Spicy Sweet Potato Soup and Pinto Bean Soup with Parsnips and Beef. You can find these and other seasonal recipes on on my blog,
GatheringFlavors (

Winter Greens Salad with Kale Tahini and Lime from Gathering Flavors

Servings: 4 to 6


For the dressing:
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup rice wine vinegar or Chinese rice wine
juice of one whole lime
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:
1 large bunch winter greens, such as kale, swiss chard or spinach
1 cup slivered dried fruits, such as apricots, dates and golden raisins
¼ cup honey roasted peanuts


Make the dressing by putting all the ingredients in a small jar. Place the lid on tightly. Shake
until all the ingredients are combined.

To make the salad, tear the leaves of the greens off their stems. Rinse to remove any excess dirt. Shake off excess water but do not dry completely. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. (You should have about 4 cups of greens.)

Pour about half of the tahini dressing onto the greens. Using your hands, massage the
dressing into the leaves so they are fully coated. Cover the bowl and allow to sit for at least
one hour. This will give the dressing time to soak into the leaves and tenderize them.
Place the slivered dried fruit and honey roasted peanuts on top of the dressed greens. Toss
everything to combine. Taste. Add more dressing, salt and freshly ground black pepper, as


1. This is a basic recipe for this salad. The key ingredients are the winter greens and tahini
dressing. The possibilities for additions to this salad are endless. Here are some ideas.
(Quantities will vary depending on how hearty a salad you would like to prepare. In general,
about ½ cup additions per person is a good rule of thumb):

* A chopped apple, walnuts and raisins
* Slivers of roasted chicken, cashews and dried cranberries
* Grated cheddar cheese, dried apples and slivered almonds
* Bean sprouts, chunks of firm tofu and sesame seeds
* Roasted root vegetables cut into bite sized pieces
* Croutons, shaved Parmesan, a bit of lemon or lime zest

2. Tahini is a sauce made primarily of pureed sesame seeds. It can be found in most grocery stores in the foreign food sections or near other nut butters. You can substitute a creamy peanut butter in the dressing, if you like.

3. Any extra dressing will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Bring it to room
temperature before using and shake to combine ingredients, if separated. If the dressing
becomes two thick, add a drop or two of water to loosen it up.

Dena Testa Bray may be reached by email at

Monday, November 17, 2014

Working out is hard work.

By John Grainger MS, CSCS
Fitness and Personal Training Director

As some of you know I am a baseball coach at Colby-Sawyer College and have coached at the American Legion level as well.  I have also done numerous lessons—both hitting and pitching—for youth baseball players in the upper valley.  I have been working with a great young man—we will say his name is Nick—who reminded me what it is like to have the drive and desire to make yourself better. 

I left Nick in September when he started playing soccer and we couldn’t make our schedules match up.  He had made some improvements but still had a long way to go.  I left him with a few things to work on—those things aren’t really important for this story.  Nick took those things to heart and worked hard—worked hard EVERY DAY—at improving his skills.  Last week I got to work with Nick again and was blown away at the progress he had made.   I asked him what he did and he said, “I come down here (his basement) everyday” to hit baseballs off a tee.   As I was driving away from his house it made me realize the connection between Nick’s continuous drive to get better and the work we do as personal trainers.

The people that have the most success—on the field, on the scale, or on the bench—are those that continuously strive for improvement.  The workouts you do in the gym alone aren’t enough—it is about sleep, nutrition, stress management, family, and everything else—and how to balance it all.  Nick’s improvement came from his willingness to put the time in to better himself.  It did help that he had me coaching him on how to do it right—he would not have improved if he was practicing the same bad habits over and over again.  The same thing goes for training.

Using a personal trainer to help you reach your own goals is a great step to success.  Whether it is one-on-one, with a friend, or in Shed and Shred, having the guidance of a trainer will help you reach your fitness goals.  If you really want to reach your goals, the hard work comes outside of the training sessions.  Having two training sessions a week with a trainer isn’t enough for most people—you need to eat right, sleep right, and manage stress.  That is where the hard work comes in.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Trick or Treat! Helpful Healthy Halloween Treat Ideas

By Katherine Tremblay BS, ACSM HFS & UVAC Personal Trainer

Carved orange stuffed with fruit 

Happy fall, Upper Valley Aquatic Center Members. Halloween is near! I'm sure you have seen loads of candy aisles at the local stores already, but did you know you can still treat your family and friends to yummy treats without heading into the tempting candy aisles? It's no trick!

Here are some not-so "health spooky" and yet tasty, fun treats to share with your little ones (and you!) this Halloween. 
Crackers, Nutella, Banana's, Dark Chocolate Chips, Jelly, Peanut Butter

Strawberries dunked in white chocolate


Carved Apples with peanut butter and jelly, bananas and dark chocolate chips
Join us at UVAC for our annual Halloween Costume Parade!
Friday, October 31
Happy Haunting!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Get the Most From Your Workout: Don’t Compete

I had an interesting conversation with a new member who is recovering from an injury and has been pushing himself so that he can be ahead of the recovery curve. He had gone a bit too aggressively which resulted in a minor relapse. He then missed almost two weeks of working out. 

That got me to thinking about competition and how it is not always a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, we have a very competitive UVAC Swim Team and Masters Swim Program and I love watching them race.  But I’m not addressing those of you who are into competitive sports. I’m talking about exercisers who feel the need to compare themselves against the person who is working out next to them. And then feel that they are somehow in a competition. You know who you are if you are on the treadmill at 4 MPH and a person gets on next to you, running at 5MPH, so you increase your speed to 5MPH also. So instead of running your last mile at a good pace for yourself, you gasp for breath and max out at about 2/10’s of a mile. Then you shut the treadmill off and then pretend that your workout is over. I’m a competitive person. I’ve found myself in similar situations. But I have learned that if I try to “compete” with the guy next to me or put the pin in the weight stack the same as the woman who was ahead of me I am asking for trouble.

Comparing yourself with someone else not only can lead to injury, but more commonly it leads to a sense of frustration and discouragement that could prevent you from making yourself healthier and stronger. Just like in the old wild west where there was always a faster gunfighter, there will always be people who are stronger or faster. Use your competitive streak to compete with yourself. Push a little to improve your strength and stamina, but in your own time. There’s no rush.

By Rich Synnott, UVAC Executive Director

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

UVAC Swimmer Hannah Cox competing at the National Level

To the UVAC Community: 

Hannah Cox swims on the UVAC Swim Team.  She is competing at the national level.  Perhaps some of you are interested in her story and would be interested to know about a fund raising opportunity to help her compete at these extraordinary events.  Here is a letter from her family.

Please help Hannah continue to swim at the National Level!  This August Hannah will swim in Irving, CA at USA Swimming Jr Nationals and in December she's already qualified to swim at Nationals, to be held in Greensboro, NC.  The cost of two national meets per year, one sectional meet, two senior meets and several qualifying meets is at least $10,000/year.  Please join our pool of friends dedicated to helping Hannah stay in the fast lane!  Every drop counts!
Invitation to donate: click here

Hannah's Story: Hannah learned to bob around the Woodstock Rec Pool when she was 2 and has taken to the water ever since!  When she became a Vermont State Champion at 8 we thought "Oh isn't she cute!"  Notwithstanding she continued to show promise!  Finally we told her when the new aquatic center was built in our area she could swim year round.  (We really thought that meant swimming winters in addition to 6 weeks each summer...)  She started swimming at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center when she was 11, even so she didn't swim ALL year round until the summer of her freshman year in high school. Hannah is now a top New England Swimmer.  She has two Junior National competitions under her belt, and swam last year at the National Select Camp hosted by USA Swimming at the Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs.  Hannah and her Coach Dorsi Raynolds were interviewed by SwimmingWorld Morning Swim Show.  My favorites though are the tweets!  "Hannah Cox of UVAC does it again with a fierce win in the 400 IM"  "Hannah Cox from VT is out in 1:53.45 in the 500 Free. Can she four-peat?"  "She does it! 16yr Hannah Cox of VT 4-peats at #ezsections"  "The 16yr old wunderkind from VT wins her 6th event at #ezsections" (#ezsections = Eastern Zone Sectionals)
Better yet is what teammate Ellie Thompson has to say: "Hannah's greatest gift in swimming is her incredible discipline and ability to compete. Her amazing work ethic, modesty, and passion for swimming is truly amazing and she has earned all the success she's had.  She is an absolute joy both to swim with, and to watch swim.  I truly believe that she has only begun to experience the incredible opportunities that her ability in swimming will bring her!"  (Ellie now swims for Emory University, 2014 Division 3 Champions)

Hannah Cox and Ellie Thompson at the NE Senior Meet, July 2014 Brown University... Hannah set the New England record in the 200 Free for the second time - a record formerly held by Olympian Elisabeth Beisel!
Thank you so much for your interest in Hannah's future.  This will "take a village" as they say... please join our family in helping our girl pursue her passion and her dreams!

Follow updates on my (Karen Cox's) Face Book page!  National meets include live and archived video links!  She's very exciting to watch!

With Gratitude ~ Karen Cox

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Proof Behind Personal Training

An article was recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that compared the results of 30 - 44 year old men who were all members of a health club.  Half of the men were assigned to a supervised, periodized training protocol with a personal trainer and the other half were performing a self directed exercise routine.  The group trained 3 times per week for 12 weeks.

Not only did the group under supervision of a personal trainer have greater improvement in strength and cardiovascular capacity, but one of the tests for the self directed group got worse!  This is the first time, to my knowledge, that reinforced the anecdotal evidence that people receive greater results when they work with a trainer.

If you are interested in seeing results talk to one of our personal trainers!  We have several different packages in 1 hour and 30 minute sessions.  Our weight loss program--Shed and Shred--and spots always fill fast!

For more information contact John at or 802-296-2850 x 103.

John Grainger MS, CSCS
Fitness Director

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

From Non-Swimming to Snorkeling With a Manta Ray

"Until February of this year, I didn’t know how to swim, and I was afraid of water deeper than 6 feet. For a work trip, I booked a travel to Hawaii in Feb, and joined UVAC, determined to be able to swim in the ocean in Hawaii. With Miss Suzanne, Meg and other instructors’ help, I was able to achieve this. I swam with a bait ball, in 25-30 feet deep water, and snorkeled at night up close with Manta Rays. I did not use any flotation aid for the bait ball snorkeling trip in the ocean during the day time. 

Here are the YouTube links to a couple of videos I recorded in Hawaii.

Night Snorkeling with Manta Rays:

Here is a photo of me swimming in the Hawaiian ocean. :-)

I’d like to especially thank Miss Suzanne Cote Curtis
Suzanne Cote Curtis, Adult Swim Instructor
and I also want to thank the entire team at UVAC for their efforts in teaching swimming and their enthusiasm. Thank a lot ! :-)"

Shadab Khan