Manchester Prep: More than just the Grades


When I reminisce back to my best memories from Elementary, Middle and High school, most of them are experiences shared with friends. Of course, I remember the academics and learning different skills but for most of us we think back to social interactions and friendships we made.

Over the past three years at Manchester Prep we have focused on developing strong relationships among our students in hopes that many wonderful memories will be created. Our formula for making Manchester Prep a successful and exciting place to be begins with the bonds that students form with their peers.

One of our strengths as a program is the importance we place on collaborative work. The best type of learning occurs when classmates work together and master concepts as a team. It is an invaluable component of our program.

When I was in Kindergarten our school had a program where each Kindergartener was “buddied” up with a 5th grader in the school. We had the chance to eat lunch with our buddy, do a monthly learning activity and enjoy a recess together. Those memories are highlights of my elementary school years.

As our program has grown we have stressed the importance of peer mentoring. Just recently one of our High School students was helping our middle school students with their social studies project. These types of interactions are equally as meaningful as any social studies unit being learned. Very frequently we have our Columbian or Argentinian students tutor and teach other students who are just learning Spanish. How awesome it is to have them as resources in our classroom each day? And to reciprocate, our English speaking students help them to speak English more fluently. This type of collaborative learning is what makes our classroom so special.


Our goal at Manchester Prep is to help each student reach their goals academically and socially. Our students’ academics are easily measured and assessed. We can look at grades and read papers to evaluate a student’s understanding of a subject. We can also look around the classroom and see our students working together in multi age groups and feel confident that they are growing socially as well as academically here at Manchester Prep.
So come take a walk over and visit us at Manchester Prep! There is never a dull moment, and it’s always a good day!

Written By: Claudine Prokopis
Director of Manchester Prep

My Best Memories Growing Up…


Some of my best, most fond memories from my childhood was going to our town’s summer camp in Burlington Mass – good ol’ Camp Simonds at Simonds Park. So many imprints left on my mind, like the counselors green tee shirts, morning meeting a huge sing-a-longs, a spoof on the copa-cabana. Yes, I was 6 or years old and everything was new, but so much fun we had in this golden summers. I remember swimming in the pool, capture the flag games in the pine trees wooded area at the camp, back then we played dodge ball on the tennis courts. So many fun days, and I even remember my favorite counselor, John. I idolized him, so much older than me (maybe 16 years old) he was fun and would run the games with us, and got know each of us. When we have our staff orientation here at MAC every summer, I always tell the new recruits that story and I always tell them that they too have the ability to positively affect a camper this summer, and it is easy to do, just be open to the kids, have fun with them, talk to them, what you do will impact their summer for the summer or negative.

I remember my first baseball coach, for whatever reason we did not hit it off, and he made us run laps around these cones as a form of negative reinforcement. I don’t remember anything else about baseball, but I surely did not stick with it too long after that. I always share that story with our tennis coaches here at the club too, as we always need to use fitness as a reward and not as punishment and the way we frame activities on the court will lead to positive or negative consequences.

The majority of my summers from 9 and up were spent at our local swim and tennis club, 3 courts, a big pool and playground and club house. Pretty simple set up, but I loved that place. I would drive my bike their every morning as my parents were both working in the summer and my days were filled with playing tennis with my friends. The summer was the time that I really improved as I had the time to devote to being on the courts, and although they did have some lessons in the afternoon, taught by a wonderful teacher, the late Bev Hansen, I already had 4 or 5 hours of Tennis under my belt by the time that organized lessons rolled around. My big brother Steven was one of the best tennis players at the club at that time and there was a time that he taught lessons there too. I remember his drill, single line on the singles sideline, forehand on the run, and try to hit it in the trash can for a coke! Classic stuff.

At MAC, I have been running this summer camp since 2001 (believe it or not) and I am always thinking back to those long sun filled days that we had growing up, and I always try to re-create those elements here for my own kids that attend this camp and for all the kids that we have coming through. Being a kid in summer is like a time warp, perfect days just flow back to back each one so pregnant with possibility, the days last longer when you’re a little kid. Maybe it’s the lack of responsibility or the newness of life growing up, but those times get imprinted in us (at least for me) more perfectly than other periods in our lives. As we approach some hopefully long stretches of sunny, warm and let’s throw some hot days in here too, I hope some drag on for you and your kids and I hope you get some of those golden summer days that will leave a positive imprint this summer.

You can check out our MAC Summer Camp options HERE. Contact Program Registration if you want to sign up or have any questions!

Written by: Dave Colby
Summer Camp Director / Director of Tennis

Why You Should Lift Heavy Every Now and Then


You’ve done it! You joined the MAC, stuck to a routine for 3 months, and have started to gain strength, endurance and even lose weight! Then things stall out… Now what? If you find that you’ve hit a stalemate in your progress, it may be time to switch things up. If you have been lifting the same amount of weight for 10-15 reps time and time again, your body will start to adapt and become used to this and stop making progress. This is where heavier lifting can come to the rescue!

It’s important to change up your exercise routine every now and then to avoid what we refer to as a plateau. The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to boost your progress. It can be as simple as manipulating sets, reps and weight. In weightlifting there is an inverse relationship between intensity (weight) and volume (sets x reps), in other words: as weights get heavier, the number of reps you can do will and should decrease.

If you are ready to switch things up here’s what to do: Keep all of your exercises the same in your routine and increase the weights by 5-10lbs and decrease reps by 2-4. For example 10 reps at 10 lbs should become 6-8 reps at 20lbs. The weights and exercises should feel difficult but not impossible. If you are struggling to squeeze out the last rep every exercise, then the weight is too heavy. Making this change will give your body the shock it needs and help break through your plateau. In addition to helping your fitness progress, lifting heavy has a myriad of other benefits including strengthening of bones and tissues, increasing muscle mass, and increasing confidence. Respectively, this can mean a decrease in injuries from falls, an increase in fat burning capability, and a higher self-esteem!

Once you have performed your routine at the heavier weight for 4-6 weeks you can switch back to your old routine of higher reps. You should find that the weights you were once using feel much lighter so be sure to increase weight. Continue to flip-flop between these

The most important thing when lifting heavier weights is that your form is near perfect. Lifting heavier weights increases stress and load on your body and if done improperly can lead to injury. If you are unsure about your exercise form and technique or want to learn more ways to shake up your training, contact a MAC trainer or join one of our great programs like WomenStrong that will instruct you to lift with proper form and technique.


Written by: Matt Pudvah
SPI Programs Director & Head Strength Coach
Manchester Athletic Club

More Than Just a Trophy


A big personal goal that I set for the MAC Tennis Academy program from its very beginning is that above any trophy or good results, the  program would always focus first on the development of the athlete as a person. A child that has respect for his or her peers, for the environment, and for the rest of the people around them is going to be a child with a better chance of maximizing his or her potential as an athlete. Beyond all of that, a kid who is respectful, but also grateful for the opportunity to train at an awesome place like the MAC and be surrounded by incredible people day in and day out, is what the program reinforces all the time.

During the past few months, the entire MAC program, and a many people from our general membership, donated a bunch of used rackets, bags, clothes, and shoes. In recent weeks, one of our long time students, Jennifer Riester and most of her immediate family, did a tennis trip to Cali Colombia (South America). This was NOT the usual trip for someone training in the academy: a national or international tournament. This trip was about service and gratefulness. Jennifer and her family took all of the donations and spent an entire week teaching tennis, English and spreading the equipment to less privileged kids who love the sport and who look to the sport to give them a chance for a better future.

The entire experience was so impactful that it inspired us to think of new ways to help. The lives of those kids were touched positively forever by the generosity of our program and the love, care and good lessons that the Riesters provided. Their trip was about supporting those kids’ dreams and possibilities without expecting anything in return. A big Thank you to the entire Riester family for taking a leadership position to manifest our gratefulness for being a part of this beautiful sport and incredible community.


Written By: 
Francisco Montoya
MAC Tennis Academy Director

Taking Women’s Health to Heart

I recently attended a continuing education webinar with one of my medical guru’s Dr. Cynthia Geyer. Dr Geyer is the medical director at Canyon Ranch, she is triple board certified in functional, lifestyle and internal medicine; she is also on the team of Food as Medicine faculty at Kripalu where I received my certification as a Food as Medicine Coach.

Dr. Geyer and her team have done extensive research on heart disease and women and what they have discovered is that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over 50. One third of women over 50 will die of a heart attack or stroke. These statics are alarming however; lifestyle and exercise can greatly reduce this risk.

It is important to be aware of the risk factors such as family history, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, stress and the western diet. Women who have frequent migraines and suffer from Raynaud’s disease also have an increased risk of a cardiac event. You can evaluate your risk at

35 % of US adults and 50% of those over 60 meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome which increases your risk of diabetes, heart attack or stroke. So what can we do?

80% of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes may be preventable by leading a healthy lifestyle.

What constitutes a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, proper body composition, no smoking, low alcohol intake, eating whole foods, proper sleep and keeping stress levels low. Sadly, only 2% of the US population meets this criteria.

Dr Geyer and her team have looked at a number of different studies on lifestyle and heart health.The INTERHEART Study looked at psychosocial stress levels across 52 different countries.What they discovered is that our emotions and stress levels are reflected in our heart rhythms. When we are frustrated or stressed, our heart rhythms are short and jagged, when we are in a deep state of appreciation, our heart rhythms are long, supple and smooth, like a wave.

Nutrition plays a key role in women’s heart health, Dr Geyer recommends the Mediterranean diet as a sustainable plan. Eat foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, polyphenols, folate, vitamins C and E. Late night eating increases the risk of obesity by 50%, try to have your last meal of the day at least 3-4 hours before you go to bed. If you must eat late, eat light.

Proper sleep is extremely important for heart health, try to create a sanctuary for sleep, turn of all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime, develop a meditation practice if you have difficulty falling and staying asleep.

Exercise with a friend or in a group. Djembe drumming, which is a low to moderate form of exercise ; lowers stress and anxiety.  Interestingly, when drumming in a circle or in a group, everyone’s heart rhythms synchronize.

Your Mac team is here for you offering fitness, wellness, group exercise, massage and acupuncture. Together we can assist you with your lifestyle and fitness goals.


Written By:
Marlene Dickinson
Holistic Wellness Coach/Director of Wellness
BA Psychology/Sports Nutrition/Food as Medicine









Vegetable Bliss

March Mid Month_salad dressing photo

Are you dreading your next plate of steamed broccoli, salad or that pan of roasted vegetables that just is not cutting it for you anymore?  Let me take you on a culinary experience that will forever change your relationship with vegetables.

I cannot take any credit for what I am about to share but I can tell you that you will be incredibly happy that you took the time to read this blog. I have spent a great deal of time at Kripalu, a meditation and retreat center in the Berkshire Mountains. It was there that I first had a truly blissful experience with vegetables and I can attribute my experience to one small scoop of the Kripalu house salad dressing! I could not believe all of the flavors that I was experiencing and the way it enhanced both my salad and broccoli.

After dinner, I ran to the bookstore to buy the cookbook and discovered that not only was the salad dressing delicious but it was also full of so many vitamins and health benefits. This one little scoop of dressing is packed with protein and is a great sources of calcium, omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin e and antioxidants. Healthwise, it lowers cholesterol, boosts heart health, improves immune function, reduces inflammation, prevents wrinkles, lowers blood pressure and acts as a liver detox. Who knew!

So here it is, your passage to vegetable bliss – Enjoy!

Kripalu House Salad Dressing

Combine all ingredients and blend – Makes 2 cups

  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  •  1/3 cup sesame tahini
  • 1/2  tablespoon dry mustard
  • ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Pinch cayenne
  • ½ cup water


Written By:
Marlene Dickinson
Director of Wellness
Holistic Wellness Coach
Food as Medicine Coach

Gymazing! is the Ultimate Place to Let Those Little Brains Develop!

“The people that work there are so kind. My kids love going there.
I wouldn’t be able to go to the gym without those amazing people!!”
-Amy K.


GYMAZING! – Where we learn our 1-2-3’s, A-B-C’s and Do-Re-Mi’s! From music with sign language, to dance parties and Spanish classes, Gymazing! at MAC is a great place to let your little one’s brains develop. We help activate fine motor skills by making messes with glitter, paint and crafts, jumping our sillies out in Gym Jam and using our imaginations to the sky’s limits. When they need, we curl up in the reading nook for a little quiet time and a good book. We also have plenty of infant swings for napping! At MAC, we not only want to challenge the adult on our fitness floor, but our kids in Gymazing as well. We want to make sure their time with us is engaging, imaginative and FUN!

Early Childhood News says: “Specific tasks related to social development occur in early childhood, just like developmental tasks occur in cognitive growth. The term social refers to a relationship or interaction between two or more people, who by definition respond to each other and influence each other’s behavior. Socialization is an important process in child development. Stated simply, it is the process whereby individuals, especially children, become functioning members of a particular group and take on the values, behaviors, and beliefs of the group’s other members. Although the process begins shortly after birth and continues into adulthood, the age of early childhood is a crucial period of socialization. How children are disciplined, how they respond to this discipline, and how they develop independent behavior are all connected to the process in which socialization occurs.”

We strive to create a space where children can come to learn something new and have fun doing it… but most importantly we value the friendships that are created and the laughs that are shared!

“Most children begin receiving formal education during kindergarten. Recent scientific research has proven that learning and mental development begin immediately after birth. During the first three years of a child’s life, essential brain and neural development occurs.”
Written by Becton Loveless for Education Corner

Come see what all the FUN is about! We are open 7 days per week, all day!
MON-THURS: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
FRI: 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM + Movie Night (5:30 PM – 8:00 PM)
SAT/SUN: 8:00 AM – Noon

*With a youth membership, your child can use Gymazing for up to two hours per day


Marion Hopping
Manager – Gymazing! at MAC
978-526-8900 x211