Meridian Star

August 15, 2013

Quiet Corner: Conquering mountains

By Virginia Dawkins
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — When my husband and I signed up for gym membership two years ago, we were a little uneasy, expecting to find lots of super-shape young people in designer workout togs. I just knew I’d be extremely intimidated. However, at ten o’clock on week-day mornings, we found a lot of friendly people who were much like us, and not at all intimidating.

    We did meet some super-shape people, who were very helpful in designing workout routines for new-comers. Adam Hodges is the director of Anderson Health and Fitness Center, and his assistant is Matt Espy. Now these guys are pretty interesting people.

    Adam is a mountain climber. Last year, he scaled the highest mountain in Russia. Actually, Mt. Elbrus was not his first climb; previously, he climbed the highest mountains in both North America and South America.

    “I came into this world with an affinity for dangerous adventure,” says Adam. “As a kid, I climbed trees and water towers, dove off the highest points I could reach into water, tramped through the woods, and swam in any creeks or lakes I came across.”

    Adam dreams of conquering the highest mountains on each continent. He has his eye on Mt. Everest in Asia, Vinson Massif in Antarctica, and Kilimanjaro in Africa. In order to accomplish this, he must continue to keep his body in excellent shape.

    “You have to put yourself on the edge,” says Adam. “You push your body and your nerves to the limit. But if you do, then you know you can return from that mountain triumphantly.”

    Matt Espy, who received the Rising Star Award given by the Medical Fitness Association in 2012, believes that each of us should take responsibility for our own wellbeing.

    “If you get bad news about your health,” says Matt, “that is the day your life can change for the better.” The Espy family has a history of heart disease; Matt’s grandfather died from heart failure many years ago. With this in mind, Matt’s father came from a doctor’s appointment one day with fearful news: Mr. Espy’s cholesterol was alarmingly high and his weight was over the top.

    “I remember very clearly,” says Matt, “that my dad began jogging in our yard that very day and my mother started searching for low-fat recipes.” This happened when Matt was a little boy and that’s when he began following his dad to the gym. When he could barely see over the counter of the front desk, he was hired as a “towel boy.” Later, after graduating college, he returned as a fitness trainer.

       What I learned from Adam and Matt is that exercise is not just about making your body look good. Your health affects your soul, and your body affects your mind, your attitude, and your entire being.     

         Many of our gym friends have “mountains” to conquer: heart trouble, high blood pressure, diabetes, and trauma from accidents or strokes. Some of us have osteoporosis, neuropathy, or balance problems. We are conquering our mountains one workout at a time.

    Virginia Dawkins may be reached at