Mary Kalel, right, shows her clients Ellen Nadeau, left, and Lisa Lemieux, center, what exercises they will be doing for their session at The Studio in Wilton on Tuesday, June 4, and how those exercises equate to their daily life. Here, she is talking about proper lifting techniques and how that can impact something like picking up a bag of groceries. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

WILTON — At The Studio in Wilton, the once small fitness studio has seen significant expansion over the last year by adding Mary Kalel to its roster of personal trainers. Kalel’s class, Movement with Mary, aims to help increase mobility and strengthen flexibility in clients 55 and older.

Located at 284 Main Street in the G.H. Bass building in downtown Wilton, Kalel offers her classes on Tuesday [9 to 10 a.m.], Wednesday [6 to 7 p.m.], and Thursday [1 to 2 p.m.].

In her class on Tuesday, June 4, Kalel began with light stretches before she went over the five workout stations that she had set up for her clients. Each client would spend two minutes going through their station while listening to classics from the 60s, then rotate to the next station.

With each station, not only does she explain the exercise and cover things like form, but she also takes the time to explain the methodology behind the exercise, relating it to an aspect of their daily life, like picking up bags of grocery or stepping over your dog that has decided to lay right in the middle of the floor.

In her class, she met with two of her regular clients and a newcomer, who was off and away once Mary showed her the ropes and made sure she felt welcomed.

“Even with a brand-new person in class, everyone was having fun,” she shared in an email with The Franklin Journal.


Ellen Nadeau hops over the rag during the Movement with Mary program at The Studio in Wilton on Tuesday, June 4. Similar to hopscotch, this workout station aims to keep both the mind and body active as Nadeau focuses on not only jumping, but staying with a pattern as she walks over the rope ladder. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

A graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington in the class of ’75, Kalel calls her career background “varied”, having worked in many different industries including textiles, private daycare programs, director of a private preschool, and retail. Her last job before retirement was a part-time position as a breakfast hostess at the Comfort Inn in Farmington.

In 2019, Kalel was suggested medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol by her doctor, but that was not a route that she wanted to take.

“I’m not one of those people that a pill is the easy answer for,” she said, “so I asked for six months to get started on a healthier lifestyle and agreed to go back in six months for repeat blood work.”

Kalel had heard of Cyra Morrill, owner and personal trainer of The Studio from a personal acquaintance and decided to look into working with her.

“I walked into my initial appointment,” she said, “and saw the spark in Cyra’s eye that told me she loved what she does and that she was going to hold me accountable for all of my bad excuses.”

Kalel’s only objective was to stay off medication, believing “the rest would follow” if she stayed on her course. Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, she maintained her fitness routine with Morrill, something that Morrill took notice of and admired.


“I saw potential in her,” Morrill shared when talking about her in The Studio’s new 24-hour gym. “There’s a fire in that woman.”

In February of 2022, Morrill set up a meeting with Kalel to discuss a business opportunity.

“I couldn’t imagine what kind of business proposal she was going to talk to me about,” Kalel said. “I thought maybe some clerical help, cleaning or something along that line.”

Instead, Morrill asked the then 67-year-old how she felt about returning to school to become a personal trainer.

“I asked her what she was trying to say, and she told me she thought I would make a good group fitness instructor,” Kalel said. “I looked at her and said, ‘Are you kidding me right now?'”

Morrill was not, which led to Kalel spending a month sitting on the idea before she looked into the American Council of Exercise [ACE] to pursue her certification.


“It was very intimidating because I hadn’t had to study or pass a test in at least 30 years,” she said, adding that Morrill was “her rock” through the process that led to her receiving her certification one year later in February of 2023.

Mary Kalel, left, observes newcomer Cheryl Hitchcock, right, during one of the workout stations in the Movement with Mary program at The Studio in Wilton on Tuesday, June 4. Kalel wants the space to be safe and relaxing, but also fun as well. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

During her course, Kalel observed many different types of people of all ages as they moved through their daily life. “Because of medical conditions, I watched my mother and my sister both stop moving when they started hurting and saw how rapidly their ability to move decreased,” she said.

Because of this, she decided to have her class focus exclusively on clients 55 and older. Morrill supported the idea, sharing that she is proud of the impact Mary has had on her older clients.

“She has made connections with that 55-plus community in a way that I would never be able to,” Morrill said.

“I knew there were classes out there for seniors,” Kalel said, “but didn’t believe there were many that were taught by someone in the age group who knows exactly what it’s like to have arthritic knees or sore shoulders.”

When thinking of a name, Kalel settled on “Movement with Mary”, hoping the name would inspire people to “keep people moving” despite their age.

“I would like more people in this age group to realize that number one, you’re never too old to start a fitness routine,” she said, “and number two, they can take a fitness class that meets their needs because there are classes out there for all ages and levels of fitness.”

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