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Burn and learn: Maine fitness instructor mixes exercise, history

By Steve Minich

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    PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) — A Maine fitness instructor is mixing exercise with history to offer unique workouts in Portland.

Leigh Rush Olson is well qualified to offer her historic workouts.

“I was a student of history at Brooklyn College in New York City,” Olson said. “I took a Portland history class at the Maine Historical Society sponsored by Portland Landmarks, and that’s how I really got my foundation.”

Olson, who is a full-time certified fitness instructor, combines a two-hour workout with a narrative tour of Portland’s past.

“Each stop is about a minute, although when I talk about the history of prohibition, that takes a little bit longer, so I’ll do a lot of squats during that time period, and I have a clicker and I keep track of how many squats and lunges we do during the entire tour,” Olson said.

Participants said they love adding a little history to their workout.

“It’s outdoors. It’s so much fun. You learn all about Portland, the great places to go, the history, it’s amazing,” participant Kathy Graham said.

Olson chronicles 50 points of historic interest in Portland, while working up a sweat.

“You kind of laugh at yourself because you’re in the middle of downtown Portland working out with people watching, but at the same time, it’s a fun time. It’s the best history lesson,” participant Jordan Keeler said.

By the time the tour is over, Olson estimates that participants have done about 10,000 steps and burned about 1,000 calories.

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