Tag Archives: Joyride Westport

“Catch A Lift” Catches Westport’s Spirit

“06880” is a little late to this story.

But it’s never too late to celebrate our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Or the people who help them.

Catch a Lift is a national non-profit dedicated to the physical and mental recovery of post-9/11 combat-wounded military personnel. The organization provides gym memberships and home equipment, fitness programs and motivational peer support.

Last weekend — thanks to the tireless efforts of Mental Grit Fitness owner/trainer Andy Berman; Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas and his entire department; Westporter and CAL board member Adam Vengrow, and the support of Joyride, Crossfit Revel and Achieve Fitness — 16 veterans came to town.

And then they went to town, with workouts, training and plenty of camaraderie.

A special shoutout goes to Daniel Slow. The Weston High School basketball player raised over $5,000 for Catch a Lift, thanks to pledges for every point he scored.

Photographer Matthew Paskert captured much of the action from last weekend’s “Westport for Warriors” weekend. If his images inspire you to learn more about Catch a Lift, click here.

(Photos/Matthew Paskert)

Tess’ 100th Ride

The other day, Tess Gordon reached 100 rides at JoyRide. You go, girl!

If you wonder why that’s “06880”-worthy — or think this must be a slow news day — read on.

Tess is not your average 14-year-old Westporter. A complex multitude of visual processing, and speech and language, issues make participation in regular teen sports difficult.

But Tess learned at an early age that exercise helps her process information better. She set out to find sports she could do.

JoyRide logoJoyRide owners Debbie Katz, Amy Hochhauser and Rhodie Lorenz — family friends of the Gordons — encouraged her to try the Teen Class level. She soon developed an appetite for spinning, and wanted more.

JoyRide let her take adult classes, as long as she “acted like an adult.” (JoyRide now allows all teens to take adult classes, with the same provision.)

At first it was tough. Tess sometimes shouts out during classes. A few adults found that distracting. She also needs lots of water, and got off her bike in the middle of class to refill her bottle.

Tess’ mom, Sheri, worked with JoyRide on solutions. How simple: Tess was moved to the side of the room, and she brought in 2 water bottles.

Today, Tess is a rock star. The adults in her classes love her. She’s so famous at JoyRide that recent visitors from Texas thought she was an instructor.

It’s been quite a ride. And — thanks to JoyRide, her mom and Tess herself — there will be many more ahead.

Tess Gordon and Jamie - JoyRide

Tess Gordon (left) and JoyRide instructor Jamie Falco.

This Could Be The Most Love-ly “06880” Post Ever

Sure, it happened on Valentine’s Day. But love is eternal — and this story is too fantastic to pass up.

Last March, Adam Keller was hired by JoyRide Ridgefield. His trainer, Jared Marinelli, had only been there a year, but was already one of the indoor cycling studio’s most popular instructors.

There was an instant connection. A week later, they had their 1st date. Their relationship deepened as they kept working — and gaining fans and friends — at JoyRide’s 4 Connecticut studios.

JoyRide logoWhen Adam decided to propose, he knew he needed a JoyRide connection. He asked Rhodie Lorenz — JoyRide’s co-founder, co-owner and lead instructor — to help.

They organized a top-secret flash mob. For 3 weeks, some of the studio’s top instructors practiced spinning choreography in Westport — JoyRide’s home base.

On Valentine’s Day, Jared showed up in Westport to film what he thought was a promotional video.

But instead of him teaching a song from the instructor bike, the entire room started their own routine.

Soon, friends and family — including Jared’s parents and Adam’s mother — walked in, holding happy signs.

Finally, Adam got off his bike — front and center — and popped the question.

When Jared said “yes!” cannons sprayed confetti, and everyone cheered. (Okay, some cried too.)

The couple plan to be married next year — somewhere in Connecticut. May we respectfully suggest JoyRide Westport?

But wait! There’s more!

The entire event WAS filmed — by HooplaHa. The company produces ONLY feel-good videos.

This one certainly is. It was posted late this morning, on HooplaHa’s website. Within a few hours, it had been viewed over 350,000 times.

Gyms Join To Give Veterans A Lift

Last fall, “06880” gave a shout-out to Catch a Lift. The organization — which provides gym memberships and home gym equipment to help wounded post-9/11 service members heal mentally and physically, through physical fitness — was planning a Veterans Day fundraiser.

Westporters responded generously. Just before Christmas, I posted some feel-good thanks from a Marine who benefited big-time.

Catch a Lift continues to do great things.

Andy Berman is a personal trainer. He’s worked in area gyms (and owned one). He’s been to private homes (including Catch a Lift supporter Adam Vengrow’s). He’s trained Westport police.

Berman donated his services for the Veterans Day fundraiser. That’s where he learned about Sergeant Ricky Davis, a highly decorated Marine who deployed 5 times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s been through tough times, but has found fitness to be a life-saver.

Sgt. Ricky Davis (ret.).

Sgt. Ricky Davis (ret.).

Catch a Lift is flying Davis up from Florida. Could Andy help?

He sure could.

Berman wanted to put Davis through a “fitness and knowledge boot camp.” He’d show him strength and conditioning, yoga, spinning — everything.

Berman pitched his idea to Joyride Westport, Crossfit of Westport and Achieve Fitness. They compete every day for members, but all were delighted to cooperate.

Shadd Hoffman

Shadd Hoffman

Davis is coming the last weekend in February. He’ll be joined by another Catch a Lift veteran. Shadd Hoffman was deployed twice by the Army. He now works for the Department of Homeland Security.

Both men want to open their own gyms. Berman and the other owners will show them how.

Berman calls the weekend “Westport for Warriors: A Fitness Workshop.”

I call it awesome.