Fitness in the park

Unstill Life trainer offers outdoor classes in Madrona, Capitol Hill

Fitness in the park

Fitness in the park

Rachel DeBusk ran her strength-and-stamina classes under the radar at Madrona and Volunteer Park for 11 years. Then she was called on by Seattle Parks and Recreation to finally apply for the required vendor permit, which ended up being a good thing.

“One of the upsides of that is they tweeted it,” she said, “and the word is spreading a little more.”

The Unstill Life trainer and Leschi resident grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and studied anthropology, psychology and writing at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. After a stint in New Orleans, DeBusk moved to Seattle 27 years ago, where she earned a masters degree in education from Antioch University.

She spent the early 2000s taking her interest in the psychology of play and applying it to a producer gig at a board game company.

“That’s carried over a little into my workout design,” she said. “First of all, I really like diversity, so no class is exactly the same.”

Her course change toward physical fitness started when she did her first triathlon, working with a local coach; DeBusk is also a certified USA Triathlon Coach now, as well as with the American College of Sports Medicine.

During her first three years as a fitness coach, DeBusk grew her business while working with the Museum of History and Industry on an interactive exhibit; this was when MOHAI was making its move to South Lake Union.

“It’s ramped up gradually, and I’ve always worked for myself, which has been very important for me,” she said.

DeBusk can help people get ready for a triathlon, climbing Mt. Rainier, skiing season, backpacking and kayaking with personal coaching and training, but said she never pushes too hard.

“I don’t put anything on them that they don’t think they’re competent to do,” she said.

DeBusk also modifies her strength-and-stamina classes for individuals who attend. These one-hour group classes take place in Madrona and Capitol Hill, at Madrona Park and Volunteer Park from March to October. She has indoor locations during the fall and winter months — MLK FAME and the Russian Community Center, respectively — or if the outdoor class sites are rained out.

“We don’t have to cancel classes just because we don’t want to get wet,” DeBusk said.

Classes in Madrona are 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and the time tends to work out well for parents with younger children, she said.

“That eliminates the child care issue for a lot of people and has been a really sweet evolution,” DeBusk said.

A July 24 class had several moms working out and around their children, who would jump in occasionally or just ride their bikes around the action.

Lara Pomernacki said DeBusk helped her get ready for her first outdoor triathlon during Seafair. She started taking her classes almost two years ago, wanting to get back in shape.

“She said, ‘Come try it out,’ and it was great,” Pomernacki said.

Shannon Mayo said DeBusk is training her for an ultra marathon. She’s been attending her Madrona classes for 2 1/2 years. She said she’d hesitated to join after her first son was born. Her second son, Miles, 2, joined her in exercises on July 24.

“I just couldn’t believe it would work out, but by the time I had Miles I was desperate for some workout buddies,” she said.

Mayo said she’s not only made new friends in Madrona, but also a parental network where she can talk about community events, school, camps and athletics.

“It’s a nice network,” Pomernacki said. “We have a lot of friends in common.”

People can purchase six classes for $116 or 10 for $180, and they’re invited to try their first class for free. DeBusk uses a punchcard system, so people don’t have to worry about missing a class.

“People come up to us a lot,” DeBusk said of her outdoor classes. “In fact, a lot of time the kids at Madrona Park will come up and watch us and start imitating the workout.”

People can join any time.

“These classes are infinitely modifiable,” she said. “There’s always ways to turn it down a bit or ramp it up gradually.”

Those classes include cardio, resistance exercises and agility drills.

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