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Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Brattleboro Firefighter Michael Heiden is the new owner of the Outer Limits Fitness Club on Cotton Mill Hill.

Sports

After almost 30 years, a gym changes hands

Local firefighter hopes to carry on what Chip Hellus started

The Outer Limits Health Club at 76 Cotton Mill Hill in Brattleboro is changing hands.

Chip Hellus, who started the business with his good friend, Nancy Alfaro, in September 1990, is stepping away from the operation.

He didn’t have to look far to find a willing successor.

Michael Heiden, who has been a Brattleboro firefighter for 12 years, is the new proprietor. He said he had been working for Hellus for a few years, and had been planning for the past couple of years to start up his own gym.

Instead, Hellus turned the business over to Heiden last month. The building’s landlord, the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, also offered some assistance.

So instead of starting from scratch, Heiden gets the keys to an established and well-loved health club.

“I can’t think of a better situation, to be able to just walk in and keep it running,” Heiden said.

Outer Limits is a basic, no-frills affair. Within its exposed brick walls are free weights and cable machines for the lifters, and lots of stair steppers, treadmills, and stationary bikes for cardio training. It’s all a reflection of Hellus’s philosophy — “Keep exercise simple so to be able to understand and execute.”

Heiden said the gym is serving as his retirement plan. He wants to work another eight years for the fire department and retire once he reaches 20 years of service.

“By then, I hope to have everything paid off and I can spend my retirement running the gym,” he said.

Until he retires from the fire department, Heiden admits he’s going to be stretched pretty thin running The Outer Limits in between his shifts at the firehouse, but his wife and son will be helping him run the operation.

Outer Limits will hold a special appreciation day for Hellus on Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. For more information, call the club at 802-257-2348.

Rec. Dept. announces fall activities

• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department will offer a variety of programs this fall.

Registration for these activities will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 29 and 30, from 1 to 6 p.m., at the Gibson-Aiken Center, 207 Main St. There will be a late fee assessed after August 31. Call the office if you have any questions at 802-254-5808.

Here are some of the activities people can sign up for:

• Youth Soccer: for grades 1-6. The techniques of dribbling, passing and shooting will be taught, and each child will have the opportunity to use these skills in team games. There will be one practice per week and at least one game per week. The program will be organized in separate groups: grades 1-2, grades 3-4, and grades 5-6.

Practices will start the week of Sept. 10, and run through the end of October. The fee is $30 for Brattleboro residents and $45 for non-residents. This fee includes a t-shirt. Volunteer coaches are needed.

• Kindergarten Soccer: beginning Mondays, Sept. 10 through Oct. 15. This 5-week program (no practice on Oct. 8) will be held at Living Memorial Park — Lower Field and is for all children in kindergarten. There will be a choice of two different time slots that children can register for, 4 to 4:45 p.m., or 5 to 5:45 p.m. There will be a limit of 25 children per group.

The fee is $20 for residents and $35 for non-residents. This fee includes a t-shirt. The program will need volunteers to help the program coordinator run the program. If interested, contact Adam Middleton as soon as possible at 802-254-5808, ext. 104. Basic soccer skills will be taught in a fun format. Shin guards and sneakers or cleats are recommended.

• Pre-K Soccer: This new program is for both 4- and 5-year-olds who have not entered kindergarten. Children must be 4 by registration. It will run on Wednesdays from Sept. 12 through Oct. 12 on the Lower Field at Living Memorial Park from 5 to 5:45 p.m. There is a limit of 20 participants. The cost of this program is $20 for residents and $35 for non-residents.

• Gymnastics Classes: Classes will begin the week of Sept. 4, at the Gibson-Aiken Center. Classes will run for an eight-week session, ending on Oct. 29. New this session there will be Parkour and Ninja classes. Each class must have four participants to run.

The cost for an 8-week program will be $80 for residents and $95 for non-residents. Late registrations will be pro-rated. Classes are run Mondays through Saturdays for ages 18 months and up. Pick up a copy of the Fall Activities Flyer for a complete listing of class times. Amanda Montgomery will direct the Gymnastics Program.

• NFL Flag Football: This new program is in conjunction with the National Football League’s Flag Football program and open to all youth in grades 3-6. The season will start on Sunday, Sept. 9 and run through Oct. 14 at the Brattleboro Union High School practice and game fields.

Practices will be played on Sundays from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. and games will immediately follow from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. BUHS football players will help with both the practices and games under the direction of Head Coach Chad Pacheco.

This is a non-contact sport. The fee is $40 for residents and $55 for non-residents (fee includes secondary player insurance, a belt with flags, and a jersey).

• Field Hockey: for grades 3-6 beginning Sept. 4. All levels and abilities are welcome, skills will be taught, and games will be played with other towns if there are enough participants. Practices will be held at the West River Park Multipurpose Field on Route 30 on Tuesdays and Fridays from 5 to 6 p.m.

The cost is $30 for residents and $45 for non-residents. Field hockey sticks are supplied by the Recreation & Parks Department, but participants must bring their own mouth guards and shin guards.

Senior bowling roundup

• Even after a 1-4 week, Team 2 (55-25) now has a nine-game lead over its rivals with two weeks to go in the Brattleboro Senior Bowling Summer League. Team 4 (46-34) moved into second place, while Team 1 (44-36) fell to third. Team 9 and Team 3 (both 41-34) are now tied for fourth place, followed by Team 7 and Team 5 (both 41-39), and Team 8 and Team 5 (both 37-43).

Lorraine Taylor had the women’s high handicap game (246), while Nancy Dalzell had the women’s high handicap series (668). Duane Schillermat had the men’s high handicap game (233) and series (645). Team 2 had the high team handicap game (835), while Team 8 had the high handicap series (2,401).

In scratch scoring, there were no bowlers with 200-plus games. Schillermat (537) had the only 500-plus series.

The most important thing

• “Love is the most important thing in the world,” the great Yogi Berra once said, “but baseball is pretty good too.”

At this stage of my life, when I find myself going to more and more wakes and funerals for friends and colleagues, I had a doubleheader afternoon of mourning on Aug. 19.

I went to memorial services honoring a pair of Brattleboro treasures — labor organizer and political activist Robert Miller and community volunteer extraordinaire Ben Underhill.

At Bob’s service at All Souls Church, we sang “Solidarity Forever” and “The Internationale.”

At Ben’s service at Living Memorial Park, we had a picnic with hot dogs and Cracker Jack, and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” was the recessional hymn.

They were two outwardly different people that I was blessed to have as friends, but they had two things in common — love for their community and love of baseball. Both Bob and Ben were great fans of the Boston Red Sox, a team that tries the souls of all of its faithful followers (although the last 15 years have been pretty good).

Both Bob and Ben gave so much of themselves for their respective causes, but they both found their release in baseball.

I think of what the great New Yorker essayist Roger Angell wrote in “Agincourt and After,” after the epic 1975 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Red Sox.

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable.

“Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved.

“Naïveté — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

In both Ben and Bob, the passion for baseball intersected with the passion for living in service to others. That brings us back to Yogi’s observation that love is the most important thing, but baseball is pretty good too. Both Bob and Ben kept it in that order. And they cared. They truly cared. I’ll always remember that.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #473 (Wednesday, August 22, 2018). This story appeared on page E4.

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