After virtual start, training gym finds brick-and-mortar home in Sunderland

  • Emily Mailloux has opened Commonwealth Strength, a new gym at 110 North Main St. in Sunderland. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The free weight area at Commonwealth Strength, a new gym at 110 North Main St. in Sunderland. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The cardio area at Commonwealth Strength, a new gym at 110 North Main St. in Sunderland. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Emily Mailloux has opened Commonwealth Strength, a new gym at 110 North Main St. in Sunderland. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The former Sunderland Bank Barn, built in 1881, now houses Commonwealth Strength, a new gym at 110 North Main St. in Sunderland adjacent to the Blue Heron restaurant. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 9/29/2022 3:20:02 PM

SUNDERLAND — After spending two pandemic years instructing people through their phones and computers, Commonwealth Strength, a training gym and “movement lab,” has opened its first studio space in downtown Sunderland.

Operated by Emily Mailloux, Commonwealth Strength opened its doors on Sept. 16 at 110 North Main St. — adjacent to the Blue Heron restaurant — with the hopes of enticing people of all ages and skill or strength levels to get their bodies moving, while also practicing mental wellness.

“I’m offering a lot of different classes that allow people to get back into their bodies, especially after the pandemic, and feel more present and connected,” Mailloux said. “Connecting the mental health with the physical health, I think, is a huge part of it … making fitness and wellness more of a healthy part of your life and not something that you have to do.”

Commonwealth Strength started after Mailloux moved back to the Pioneer Valley in 2017, having spent several years working in Boston. A Smith College graduate, she soon found that her passion was in coaching and training folks. Mailloux enrolled at the American Academy of Personal Training in Boston before coming back to western Massachusetts and taking a job at a gym in Hadley.

“It was becoming increasingly clear that it would actually be a pretty cool career and would keep me active,” she explained. “I didn’t want to just sit at a desk.”

After a couple of years, Mailloux decided to “strike off on (her) own” and opened Commonwealth Strength as a virtual-only training program in June 2020. And despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Mailloux found that many people locked in their homes were looking for a way to keep active with others.

“It was a very strange time to start a business, but I was bringing Zoom classes, personal training via Zoom and people’s houses, and we did some outdoor classes around different parks,” she recounted. “That’s what we did for a little over two years, and last fall I started looking for spaces. I knew I wanted to be in South Deerfield or Sunderland because it’s a very under-served area.”

With her new space, Mailloux said she now has more opportunities to expand her classes with additional equipment, while continuing to offer classes like “Animal Flow,” which is a program based on yoga, mobility and bodyweight strength training.

“There’s this kind of connected, graceful, almost choreography to it where you’re flowing through these different positions,” Mailloux said. “I call it ‘primal movement.’ It’s the kind of way that your body was really meant to move. … It’s such a good way to connect with your body.”

Classes of all types are available Monday through Saturday, with morning classes usually starting between 7:30 and 8 a.m., and late afternoon to early evening classes beginning anywhere from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. There is also a Sunday morning recovery and mobility class beginning at 9:30 a.m. A full list of classes and a schedule can be viewed at commstrength.com/classes.

Mailloux offers a sliding payment scale for group classes where participants can pay anywhere from $15 to $25 per class. Foundation classes, which are strength training for small groups of three to six people, are offered at $25 a session; semi-private training for two to three people is offered on a sliding scale of $35 to $50 per person; and one-on-one personal training is available for $55 to $80 per session.

“I want this to be accessible to everybody. … A sliding scale is something I’m definitely going to stay with,” she said. “It’s that feeling of helping each other. If you’re someone who can afford to pay $75 and someone else can pay $55, it balances out to the average. So, I think it’s a really good way to build that community and help each other.”

For more information about Commonwealth Strength, visit commstrength.com.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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