'Versatile' exercise class moves from Mt. Scott to Sellwood
If you are looking for a helpful and personalized approach to exercise and fitness, such a fitness class has moved from the Mt. Scott Community Center to the Sellwood Community House, formerly known as the Sellwood Community Center.
"Community Strength and Conditioning", taught by Geoff Bergman, has gained praise for its friendly and fun, supportive, educational, and body-positive environment. All of the exercises allow for modifications and progressions to fit each individual's fitness needs and level.
"I have spent the past four years working with everyone from teens to active adults, even into their 80's, in either class or one-on-one settings. I've worked with athletes, pre and post-natal clients, people recovering from injuries, people recovering from cancer, as well as stroke, MS, and Parkinson's clients," recounts Bergman.
Prior to 2015, Bergman worked for over a decade in a corporate desk job. That relatively sedentary occupation, along with some recurring injuries arising from running, sparked his interest in the human body and movement.
Deciding that he wanted to do something that would make a long term difference for his own body, that of his co-workers and family, as well as for the general public, he quit the corporate job and went back to school full-time at Portland Community College to earn a two-year Associates degree in Exercise Science.
His education in fitness training led him to a job at the locally owned Fulcrum Fitness, where he instructed group and semi-private training. During that time he also taught group exercise and one-on-one training sessions, first at the Southwest Community Center, and then at the Mt. Scott Community Center.
Having attended Linfield College for four years in the mid-90's studying theater, psychology, and education, Bergman valued the sense of community at the college, but didn't find it in his corporate job. So one of his goals in teaching body fitness classes was to create a sense of camaraderie in the classes.
"I've found building a fitness community around a 'be yourself' approach to be very successful," he says. "I meet every participant, wherever they are on their fitness journey, with no barriers for age, gender, race, fitness level, or ability."
Working full-time at Mt. Scott Community Center for three of the last four years, he taught numerous classes, did personal training, maintained fitness equipment, mentored other staff and instructors, and helped with some adult fitness programming. Then this past Summer Portland Parks & Recreation began cutting positions and programs, and his position was one of the first eliminated.
This change was unfortunate for his loyal class participants, who valued his approach to fitness. Mariko Ono, a class member commented: "Geoff is, hands down, the most encouraging and passionate fitness instructor and motivator I've encountered in working out. He is part life coach, community organizer, fitness researcher and instructor, health advocate, and all heart. It's very hard to wake up before work to go to class; and yet I just know I'll have a new workout to sweat to that was crafted with thoughtfulness and 'compassionate challenge' in mind."
This September, when the Sellwood Community Center was closed by PP&R and then taken over by a community nonprofit, Bergman was concerned about eliminated programs, and inquired about the need for class instructors to continue classes – at the Sellwood Community House.
Happily, the new location in Sellwood is close to Bergman's Woodstock residence, as well as to the homes of many of his Mt. Scott Community Center class participants.
Bergman's classes are held Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, at 7:00 a.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 a.m. You can pre-register monthly for $7 a class, or have a $10 "drop-in". To register, or for more information, contact the Sellwood Community House – www.sellwoodcommunityhouse.net – or drop in at 1436 S.E. Spokane Street in Sellwood, or call 503/894-9496.
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