By Stephanie Van Ness, CSCS
Fifty minutes into a grueling ARX session, participants are dripping with sweat, breathing heavily and eagerly counting the seconds until the clock ticks down to the group stretch.
Sweet relief is just a moment away. But before the stretch can begin a familiar voice calls out, "Let's do some abs!" The class groans but dutifully follows along. ARXers, after all, are used to Tara Mounsey pushing them to dig deep and finish the day's workout with maximum effort.
Effort is something she knows intimately. Like many other ARXers, Tara is a busy working mom. But, her past is anything but typical.
She grew up playing ice hockey against boys. In high school, Tara was the star of Concord (N.H.) High's boys' varsity hockey team - there wasn't a girls' team - and was named captain her senior year. Her time with that team culminated with a state championship in 1996 and the New Hampshire Player of the Year award. She was the first female ever to win.
Upon graduating, she packed her bags for Brown University where she laced up for the Bears and set her sights on a degree in neuroscience. But elite hockey intervened. Women's hockey was set to make its Olympic debut in Nagano, Japan in 1998 so Tara took a year off to train with, play for and tour with the U.S. team.
She and her fellow teammates worked tirelessly on the ice and in the gym to ensure they were each in top form for Nagano. Their hard work paid off: her team won the first - and to this day only - Olympic gold medal in women's hockey for the U.S. (She also earned a silver at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.)
"I still love watching the Olympics and have been every chance I get," Tara said. "I love the spirit of the Olympic Games. The Olympics always sparks an urge to compete and achieve the greatest level of fitness at this point in my retired career."
So how does she keep fit these days?
"I was introduced to ARX through a friend who is an ironman athlete," she said. "I love the workouts, the facility, and the trainers. I have been doing ARX for about 16 months now and I have seen a dramatic difference in my fitness level. I have lost 15 pounds and gained a great amount of strength. I feel great!"
To other adults looking to ramp up their own fitness programs she says, "Honestly, cancel your 'typical' gym membership and join ARX. You will see and feel immediate results."
"ARX has helped me restore that feeling of being strong and fit again," she continued. "After I retired from competition I struggled with finding a way to stay fit that still allowed me that feeling of being an elite athlete. That is, until I discovered ARX. I now train like an elite athlete in a state-of-the-art facility. The workouts are as challenging as many Olympic workouts I have done. And it is fun to train amongst the younger athletes striving to make it to the next level."
It is also fun to train with a group of motivated adults who come together for an hour almost every day to sweat and indulge in a little bit of good-natured ribbing. "There's a nice camaraderie in class," she said.
Camaraderie and friendship are important to Tara, who is still close with her Olympic teammates. "The bond developed with teammates when striving to win a gold medal is very strong and true," she said. "I am in touch with all of my teammates and I spend a good amount of time with those who live locally."
"I use lessons learned while growing up as a athlete every day of my life," she added. "Training taught me all about perseverance, tenacity, team work, and the importance of a strong work ethic. These lessons have helped me succeed as a Nurse Practitioner (she earned her degree from Boston College and currently works at New England Baptist Hospital), a parent, a spouse, and an ARX athlete."