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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Oula, roller derby and spin classes just some of the activities on display at the Spokane Health and Fitness Expo

Bethanie Pittman, who skates as Betty Beefcakes, scores points as the lead jammer for exhibition team Blair Hits Project during a roller derby bout against Lilac City on Jan. 5, 2019 at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center in Spokane Valley, Wash. The Blair Hit Project beat the local Lilac City Roller Girls. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane Health and Fitness Expo wasn’t just a chance to learn about heath and wellness, but a place to work out.

The expo that took place at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center on Saturday and Sunday brought people from a variety of fields together under one roof.

“For me, health and fitness is a huge part of my life, and it’s so nice to check out new things,” said attendee Raven Perry.

Perry, who came to the expo with workout buddy Laine Lambarth, was decked out in purple workout pants to go with her hot-pink hair. The women met at work and worked out together on their lunch break. Five years later, Lambarth is making fitness a business.

Lambarth is the only certified Oula instructor in Spokane. Oula is a fitness dance class set to top-40 music that includes a focus on spiritual connection, like yoga, Lambarth said.

“There’s a lot more spiritual and safe space exploration of your emotions,” she said. “So maybe you need to be angry. You need to be sad, if you’re happy … this is a great way to do it.”

After years of taking Oula classes, Lambarth decided to become certified to teach when the only instructor she knew in Spokane was injured. Now, Lambarth teaches a few classes a week out of her home and at a few studios in town.

The expo helped Lambarth connect with studios that might have space for her to teach classes, she said.

“I want to develop my own group of people who enjoy it,” Lambarth said. “I would like to get another instructor in Spokane.”

Before heading over to take a free workout class, Lambarth and Perry stopped to watch an intense roller derby bout being held at the expo.

“I like the intensity and the competition,” Perry said.

The Lilac City Roller Derby Yetis competed against The Blair Hits Project, a more informal team with players from Yakima, Ellensburg and Idaho.

“It’s super empowering,” derby participant Debi French said. “It’s really body positive. Everybody is so supportive and encouraging.”

French, whose derby name is Debauchery, has been doing roller derby on and off for a few years and recently got involved again after having a baby last year.

“It’s just feels like a family, everybody helps push you to be stronger,” French said. “It’s super hard, fun exercise that doesn’t feel like you’re working out.”

Roller derby is a full-contact team sport on roller skates, in which a player called the jammer attempts to pass members of the other team to score points, while other team members try to block the opposing team’s players from hitting the jammer. Teams play both defense and offense simultaneously.

Jen Simmons, whose derby name is Misato, is a veteran in the Spokane roller derby community. She has competed for more than 13 years.

“I love it because women aren’t supposed to be tough or strong, especially small women, and I’m very, very small in our league and I’m very, very big on the track,” Simmons said. “It kind of just spills into regular life. So you get hit or knocked down, and you get up over and over again, and you have your sisters lifting you up all the time.”

While players talk about a sense of community, their coach, Jada Bellrose, acknowledged that starting out can be intimidating.

“It’s been fun just to let people know that there are all these different ways to be involved,” Bellrose said. “There’s a ton of work to be done to put on this sport, so for people who are a little hesitant because it’s a full-contact sport, that can be a little scary. They can ease their way in through volunteer work and then decide if they want to start putting on some skates.”

Across the convention center, Krystal Collazo was getting ready for a spin class, instead of taking a spin around the roller derby track like she had in years past.

After having her son, Marshal, when she was 20, Collazo said she gained 80 pounds.

“I started doing roller derby. I lost a bunch of weight, and then we started spinning and I lost even more weight,” Collazo said. “So I don’t like the typical gym atmosphere.”

Collazo and her boyfriend, Jared Muller, bought spin bikes and would work out in their living room so that Collazo didn’t have to venture into gyms that made her uncomfortable.

Then in June, Collazo and Muller opened Spin City, a cycling gym, on North Monroe Street.

The cycling gym holds daily classes to the beat of pop music and is opening a new location Monday at CrossFit Spokane on East Mission Avenue.

“I wanted (someplace) where you could walk in and feel comfortable, where you could walk in and see someone that looks like me,” Collazo said. “So we created this place and I want it to be a community. … I don’t want them to feel intimidated, or afraid, or uncomfortable.”

Even if a spin bike isn’t the most comfortable, Collazo added, joking.

With a budding business, meeting like-minded people at the heath and fitness fair was an opportunity to collaborate, Collazo said.

“I had no idea that people want to help you in the community, and so just seeing people wanting us to succeed and wanting to help you grow … that has been a really humbling experience,” Collazo said.

That health and wellness community recently got a new member in Brooke Beier. The nutritional health coach at Natural Grocers moved to Spokane just weeks ago from Montana.

Beier represented the organic food store at the fair and said she was shocked at the breadth of the natural health community now at her fingertips.

Natural Grocers stores offer free one-on-one nutritional coaching. The coaches also help educate store employees and create a community around nutrition at their stores. Spokane will be getting another Natural Grocers location on the South Hill in February.

“There are so many more natural health people around,” Beier said. “We just want people to know that we’re here and we can help.”