CHESHIRE, Mass. — Fitness instructor Heather Melendez has returned to Cheshire, where she began Berkshire Body 20 years ago.
Melendez opened on April 1 as one of the first organizations to rent out space in the former Cheshire Elementary School.
"I started at the Cheshire Grange Hall and kind of bounced around but I am back to my roots which is awesome," she said.
Before moving to into the former cafeteria -- a light-filled space at the front of the school -- she was running fitness sessions at Turn Hall in Adams.
"Turn Hall was great but it was a shared space. There were birthday parties and all sorts of things," she said. "This is not shared space and is solely my space which is great."
Melendez has a stage set up and also uses the school grounds for outdoor activities.
She said her classes are accessible to all ages and fitness levels.
"We range from 17 to 60 something," she said. "We have people in their 60s and everything in between."
And Melendez has gained a following.
"I love Heather's classes because she is so motivating, so positive, and also she is my motivator," Karen Johnstone said. "Everyone at her classes are so upbeat, positive, and encouraging and we all help each other out."
"I started attending classes at Berkshire Body almost four years ago," Gail Burda said. "I am 68 years old and have never been stronger or in better shape in my life."
"Heather goes above and beyond to create a positive and supportive environment," Ann Marie Perry said. "Where members of all different levels can feel comfortable to work at their own pace while still challenging themselves to attain their health and fitness goals."
Melendez said this accessibility is what sets her apart from similar businesses.
"I feel like we are very approachable, we have such an eclectic group of people, we are very welcoming, and very comforting," she said. "We will help you modify just about anything, or step it up with grabbing heavier weights or just trying a little harder. It's a great group of people of all different abilities, shapes, and sizes."
Classes are Monday and Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 a.m. Early morning classes at 5 are also being offered, check the Berkshire Body Facebook page for details. All sessions are $5.
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