On the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., in a north Auburn tap-room something unusual happens.
Something distinct from the business of fine beers slipping down the throats of Crft Beer’s clientele.
It starts when people in exercise clothes amble into the bar at 1210 Auburn Way N., clear away the tables and chairs, roll out foam mats and finally will their limbs and vertebrae to move about for the good of body, mind and soul.
That is, exercise.
It’s been happening in Seattle taprooms for a while, says exercise coordinator Roxanne Matera. Late last year, she decided to bring all that big city fun to Auburn, with the enthusiastic support of Eugene Lee, owner of CRFT Beers, and her close friend, Melanie Taylor of the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority.
“It was something outside of the box,” Matera said. “I had to do something different, and it was Melanie Taylor, holding my feet to the fire saying, ‘Are we going to do it, are we going to do it?’ I said fine, let’s just set a date.”
This bar-exercise fusion started in Japan when someone got the bright idea to go into a microbrewery, take all the space available and for a time, turn it into a yoga studio. When some of its apostles crossed the pond from Japan and spread the word in the state, people picked it up and ran with it, especially in the larger cities.
When Matera heard about it, something sparked.
“A non-gym environment creates a different type of relaxed feeling in a new sort of setting. I first talked to (Crft Beers owner Eugene Lee) about it a year ago. … He is so open to new ideas,” Matera said.
Seems fitting that Matera would be the one to introduce this stretch and brew to Auburn. Turns out, she’s been dancing to her own beat all of her life.
In the days when schools advised girls with a penchant for engines, cams and brakes to “stick to powder-puff mechanics,” Matera was already a seasoned mechanic, having learned from dad in her native Hawaii how to pull out a car’s guts, fix them, and put the thing back together again.
At Kent-Meridian High School, from which Matera graduated in 1987, she took welding, in the era when “girls just don’t do that.”
And most shocking of all, Matera, a natural athlete who tried her hand at softball, swimming track and other sports. dared to go into KM’s weight room and work the free weights, despite a load of grief from the guys.
“Usually, it was, ‘let me help you with that,’ or, ‘Do you know what you are doing?” Matera recalled. “Sometimes, they would not be nice, and would almost push you out of the way because you were on their seat or you were in their place, their special area they pushed weights from.
“They weren’t very nice about sharing, and they would kind of giggle because I would use light weights instead of heavier weights. See, they didn’t know back then what we know now: that you can get just as much of a burn from using smaller weights with longer reps, and it’s better on the joints, too,” Matera said.
Years later, after a long hiatus to raise her six kids, Matera started her formal exercise gig at what was then Vision Quest at the Supermall when the leader of her Zumba class decided she’d rather do something else.
“I hate when people get healthy and they’re in that mindset, and then they’re just cut off with no explanation, and you can’t do that,” Matera said. “That’s like leaving the bride at the altar, and that doesn’t work in my brain. So we all looked at each other and said, ‘Well, somebody should teach the class,’ and they go, ‘You know. you have a good rapport with everybody.’
“That’s how I got my first step into doing what I do now, even though it’s what I had wanted to do for a long time but couldn’t because I had babies at home,” Matera added.
From there she went on to help people get in shape all over King County, from the corporate offices of Holland America’s Cruise Lines in Seattle to LA Fitness, from the parks and recreation departments of the cities of Renton and Kent to her own studio.
Matera also owns her own aquatic business at the Federal Way swimming pool in the Federal Way Community Center.
“The King County Housing program in Kent was a neat program,” Matera said. “That one is funded by a grant, and they wanted to have an instructor come in, and nobody in there but one person speaks English. But to see them exercise and some of them come from lung capacity of like 40 and 60 to now where it’s like 80 percent in one to 60 percent in the other. is gratifying. It has changed their sense of mobility.
“That’s my favorite program, mostly because they look like little birds in flight.It doesn’t matter if I can’t talk to you, if I look at you and I say ‘squeeze and squat’ they get the routine down fast.
As for the new fusion of taproom and exercise studio, Matera said, it’s worked out well..
“I don’t know what to call it. It’s like yoga, and afterwards you can have a beer,” Matera said with a laugh.
TIME TO STRETCH
Date and time: second and fourth Saturdays of the month
Cost: $55 for 5 classes plus 1 free. $25 for 2 sessions. Cards have no expiration and can be used to bring a friend in, too.
Workout includes bands, foam rollers and core-straightening exercises.