Fitness: Local instructor combines racing and eating

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By Mike Cote

Staying in shape is a good thing. But eating ain’t bad, either.

Local fitness instructor Laura Kelly is trying to incorporate both in her current personal fitness program.

Wanting to do something different as she approaches her 50th birthday, Kelly decided the best way was to combine two of her favorite things: exercise and eating out.

To that end, Kelly invented the Pork & Burn.

“It’s almost like a yin-yang thing,” she said.

Kelly, who teaches several different classes at the Family YMCA of Los Alamos, including spin and pilates, has set fitness goals for herself for each of the past four years.

This year might be her most ambitious goal yet, however.

Not only does Kelly want to participate in 50 races over the next 12 months, she also wants to sample the cuisine at 50 new restaurants.

Her 50 races kicked off with the YMCA’s annual running event, the Firecracker 5K, which was held on Independence Day. From there, she plans to run in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and even this week was on her way to take part in the San Francisco 5K Fun Run.

Additionally, she’ll take part in all of the local events, including the Enchanted Circle bike race in September and the Los Alamos Triathlon next month.

“The challenge is trying to keep it fun without making it into something like a job,” Kelly said. “It’s a fairly significant challenge. The restaurant part makes it fun.”

Heading into this week, Kelly had only gone to one new restaurant, however, the Church Street Café in Santa Fe.

And, for the record, she liked it.

While she’s feeling good about her upcoming races, the restaurant portion of her challenge, she said, is actually turning out to be a little tougher than she’d originally anticipated.

“It’s kind of hard to find new restaurants in Santa Fe,” she said. “I’ve been living here for 20 years and I tend to go to my favorites.”

Kelly doesn’t describe herself as a foodie, but said she does enjoy a good meal, especially one she doesn’t have to cook herself.

Prior to the Pork & Burn, Kelly’s fitness challenges included preparing herself for, then taking part in, the local triathlon — she has this year’s event dubbed the “LA ‘Tri’” on her blog, as the 2010 event won’t include a bike portion. She followed that up the next year by preparing for the local figure competition. Last year, she rode in several “century” bike races — a race of 100 miles or more in length — and the Tour de Los Alamos.

Originally, Kelly wanted to make 2010 the “year of the swing” by getting her golf game back up to speed, but decided she needed to do something special to prepare for her 50th birthday.

While things have gone well during the early stages of her challenge, she said actually getting through the challenge isn’t nearly as important as the journey.

“I’m there to have fun,” she said. “I want to get my friends involved, to make some new friends and learn about myself in the process.”