by: Deion Clifton
Rick Mckay is a chiropractor specializing in range of motion and spinal biomechanics. He excelled as an athlete, playing football at all levels, including semi-pro in South Bend, Indiana, and professional in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Canada. He’s lived his life with the goal of maintaining a fit lifestyle and has worked to live up to it.
Eventually, his time playing ball ended, and he landed at Pike Creek Fitness, HAC’s former facility. There, he took Advanced Conditioning classes under group fitness instructor Bobby Carpenter. After two or three years of instruction from Bob, Rick would become his successor. This year will be Rick’s 34th year teaching Advanced Conditioning as a group fitness instructor. I sat down with Rick to discuss his class.
A Home Away from Home
We at HAC believe in enhancing people’s lives while creating a sense of community. Rick’s Advanced Conditioning class exemplifies how this should look. He along with a following of at least 25-30 other individuals occupy studio two every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00 am.
Rick says it’s the camaraderie of the class that brings people back. He takes time to remember everyone’s name, and he and the class participants welcome new members to the “family” with open arms. But connections aren’t only built within the walls of the Hockessin Athletic Club. As the instructor, Rick consciously tries to get to know his members personally. “We have a couple of parties each year which I think is unique to this particular class,” Rick notes. “We have a Christmas party and then a before summer party.”
He opens his house to all the members of his class, old or new, twice per year to help build camaraderie. “You bring a dish, you bring your partner, your spouse, your significant other, your adult beverage, and, you know, we have a good time,” he states. “It gives the people that participated in the class an opportunity to meet each other in a different environment.”
A Look into the Class
I had the chance to take Rick’s class, and it was nothing short of a great time with great people. Upon walking in (late, I might add), several individuals greeted and welcomed me. Those who saw me walk into the class empty-handed and unprepared offered me supplies. They had extra kettlebells, dumbbells, and yoga mats prepared for me as if they knew I was coming and would need them.
Rick’s class consists of young and older people. And, especially in this class, it’s not uncommon to see more senior members in better shape than some younger members. Though most of the course would consist of bodyweight exercises, the class was challenging.
Rick isn’t the type of instructor that sticks to a spot in the front of the class. He allows some of the long-term members to demonstrate movements while he explains so that he can walk the course. This enables him to take a hands-on approach if someone’s technique needs fixing. Knowing that professional eyes were wandering helped to keep me honest, doing what I could do with correct form and never selling myself short. With so many people working to their full potential in the class, you feel a sense of urgency to fight through any form of fatigue you may be experiencing. Knowing others are fighting just as hard as you is the motivation that pushes you through to the end of the workout. Rick’s encouragement also plays a significant factor in keeping his class going. He’s the type of person who will stand with you, working one-on-one, coaching you through the technique until you get it right.
Rick does what he can to challenge his members in a fun way. His goal is to keep a smile on his class members’ faces. He’s consistently cracking jokes in class. The humor he uses helps to divert your attention from any strain you may be enduring. This is part of what has built his following, bringing people back to class every Tuesday and Thursday.
He takes pride in seeing his members’ improve. “One of the things that I enjoy doing with the class is trying to see the progression in some of the people,” he explains. “I’ll try and frame my workouts so everybody can get a full body workout each time.” The goal of this class is to focus on increasing flexibility and strength. He says, “the advanced part [of the class], especially from a guy’s standpoint, is doing the flexibility stuff that we don’t do, that we should do, especially as we age.” His chiropractor knowledge helps him easily recognize lousy form and technique during exercises. He believes that his knowledge as a chiropractor is one of the things that allows people to progress more quickly.
Take This With You
Rick says the critical factor within his advanced conditioning class is to “just work at your own level.” You’re not going to start out completing every rep in the class, but if you start small, stay consistent, and try to do just one more rep next time, in time, you’ll find you’ve grown substantially.
The class is open for people at different fitness levels, whether you’re just starting your fitness journey or have been taking group fitness since HAC opened. No matter where you lie on the fitness scale, the class will help you challenge yourself and progress. “Ideally, what I can do is challenge them. Then they can recognize the fact that they can do this. They can grow, they can develop and get better as they age, which, you know, that’s the whole deal.”