‘Get Fit, Give Back’ events in Greenfield shining spotlight on nonprofits

Common Ground Fitness Center instructors Erica Burns (left in purple) and Emma Marscher (right in black) lead participants through a Barre fitness class on Sunday to raise money for  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western Mass.

Common Ground Fitness Center instructors Erica Burns (left in purple) and Emma Marscher (right in black) lead participants through a Barre fitness class on Sunday to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western Mass.

Common Ground Fitness Center instructors Erica Burns (left in purple) and Emma Marscher (right in black) lead participants through a Barre fitness class on Sunday to raise money for  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western Mass.

Common Ground Fitness Center instructors Erica Burns (left in purple) and Emma Marscher (right in black) lead participants through a Barre fitness class on Sunday to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western Mass. FOR THE RECORDER/AALIANNA MARIETTA

By AALIANNA MARIETTA

For the Recorder

Published: 03-05-2024 2:09 PM

Modified: 03-05-2024 4:01 PM


GREENFIELD — The missions of Common Ground Fitness Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western Mass collided on Sunday during the “Get Fit, Give Back” event.

By donating a suggested $25 to Big Brothers Big Sisters, participants were able to take a Barre fitness class — a workout technique inspired by elements of ballet, yoga and Pilates. Abbe Bresciano, a Greenfield resident and program supervisor for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency, described the collaboration as a “win-win.”

“You get to do a little self-care for yourself and do the class and then you get to learn a little bit about our agency,” Bresciano explained.

Big Brothers Big Sisters matches “Bigs,” adult mentors over the age of 21, with “Littles,” kids ages 6 to 14, based on aligning interests, personalities and locations. Once the organization pairs the match, “there is no cookiecutter sort of structure,” Bresciano said. Some pairs hike and kayak together while others bake or watch movies. The mentorship “looks like whatever they want it to be.”

But for every match, the “Big” commits to rooting for the “Little.”

“It’s that adult component of offering the stability that the child might not have,” Bresciano explained. “It’s just another person in their life that cares for them.”

Beyond the community-based program, Big Brothers Big Sisters also pairs kids with older students at Deerfield Academy, Northfield Mount Hermon School and Stoneleigh-Burnham School.

With about 100 “Littles” and only two “Bigs” waiting for their matches, Big Brothers Big Sisters is “always, always, always looking for mentors,” Bresciano stressed, and spreading the word through events like “Get Fit, Give Back” are essential to recruiting “Bigs” in the making.

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Greenfield residents and co-owners of Common Ground Fitness Center Nadya Beaudoin and Jamie Roberts planned the event with this goal of awareness in mind.

“We started thinking now that we’re in a bigger space than we were before, what can we do to start giving back to the community?” Roberts explained, referring to the gym’s recent relocation from High Street to 369 Federal St.

Having settled in since the September move, they intend to work with other local organizations every few months to spotlight their impact through the fun of fitness classes.

“There are so many great resources out there, and I don’t think people necessarily know about them or know what’s involved,” Beaudoin said. “They might hear the name of something, but not really understand what it’s all about, so this provides people an opportunity to get to know about a local resource and either have an opportunity for them to volunteer or, in the case of Big Brothers Big Sisters, get their kids signed up for the services that they offer, too.”

Beaudoin expects these collaborations will easily grow as “people are looking for innovative ways, creative ways to get the word out.” So, why not a fitness class fundraiser?

“We’re not just a business; it’s important to be involved in the community and be able to give back and help others, too,” Beaudoin added.

In addition to potential donors and volunteers for nonprofits, Roberts and Beaudoin hope “Get Fit, Give Back” events will also open the fitness center’s doors to newcomers, encouraging them to take the sometimes scary leap and start their fitness journey at Common Ground.

“I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 25 years, and I know that for a lot of people it can be intimidating to walk into a gym setting,” Beaudoin said. “People have the desire to want to get fit, but they don’t necessarily know where to start, and so part of what we want to bring here is that community where you feel comfortable walking in the door.”

Opening Common Ground’s doors for events also helps the business bounce back after the pandemic, when people retreated to workout regimens at home, Beaudoin noted. When Beaudoin and Roberts took over Common Ground in June, Beaudoin said building their membership “was hard because the majority of people didn’t come back to the gym afterwards, people were scared still and they had established workouts in their own homes.”

“It was like starting over again,” Beaudoin said.

But for Beaudoin, Sunday’s event stands as a testament to their progress.

“Doing things like this, it just makes my heart so happy because we’re able to provide so much more now that we’ve got the bigger space as well,” Beaudoin said, beaming. “We can get more involved with the community, we can offer more programs that are going to be beneficial for people.”