Workout and Wine

The noncompetitive Fitness with Benefits runs the trails

By Eric Newman

North Phoenix residents Larry Padgett, Lewis Young and Lisa Evans were at a nearby Fry’s Wine Bar, hanging out and sharing stories of their exercise regiments and fitness goals when they had an epiphany.

Why not start a small club to merge their interests.

“We kind of figured, why not do it together? And it started from there,” says Padgett, a sales consultant for a large textile company.

Fitness with Benefits, or FWB, provides a supportive outlet for fitness enthusiasts of all levels of exercise on a variety of local trails. The area is fortunate to have many mountains and trailheads nearby. Participants can go as fast or slow as they want, with near certainty they’ll be joined by someone else.

The group meets at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

“We want to stress how noncompetitive it is. It’s just for fun and for us to enjoy getting out of the house to do something healthy,” Padgett says.

Padgett and Evans only recently took up trail running, and they share the same passion for mountain biking. A longtime track and field athlete, Lewis was a standout runner at Long Beach State University. He is considered the group’s mentor.

The camaraderie of FWB allows the exercisers to push themselves. While the person nearby is struggling or racing past their perceived physical limits, it provides others a chance to clear the same challenge.

“It kind of makes you realize you can push yourself a little more. You see someone and they want to keep up with you or you want to keep up with them. It’s a pretty cool thing,” says Evans, a dental hygienist.

The club isn’t just about exercising. The trio met at a wine bar and will continue to frequent local haunts like Limon Tacos and Tequila for refreshments after their workouts.

Young, whose kids joined him on a July 11 run at the Desert Hills Trailhead, says FWB’s social aspects are one of its best traits.

“We’re kind of regulars there anyway, and it’s just a good time to go after a workout. You feel kind of accomplished,” says Young, a senior loan specialist.

The group is small for now, with the three founders as regulars. June wasn’t the best month to start, considering the heat. However, once the weather cools off a bit, and the group is more established, FWB hopes to increase its numbers.

Plans include visits to new trails and activities, and possibly even day or weekend exercise or hiking trips. FWB’s founders say the group has the makings of a staple for local fitness enthusiasts for years to come.

“It’s fun. We’re a tight-knit community, and I wanted to see what kind of group we could put together of the people we know around here,” Padgett says. “And I’m excited to see how we can grow it.”

For more information, call Larry Padgett at 602-614-0760. 

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