Fitness classes offer fun competition

By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

BIG SKY – Big Sky is near some of Southwest Montana’s best rock climbing – Gallatin Canyon has three major areas and more than 30 developed cliffs, and the Spanish Peaks are home to a handful of classic alpine routes. Now, area climbers have a place to train in winter at a newly expanded facility in Geyser Whitewater.

Through her business Big Sky Fitness Fusion, seven-year local Jolene Budeski-Callahan, together with her husband Kevin, built a 15-by-20-foot bouldering wall this fall to complement Geyser’s existing 30-foot climbing wall.

Budeski-Callahan previously taught fitness and gymnastics classes in the Meadow Village next to Big Sky Health and Fitness. When she lost that space this summer, it was a blessing in disguise, she said, because it allowed her to find Geyser and add climbing classes to her repertoire.

The Callahans started teaching kids climbing classes in November and opened the facility to the public several days a week starting in February. The steepness on the bouldering wall is adjustable, so it accommodates all abilities, Budeski-Callahan said. The fixed wall has three ropes, including a lead setup, and room for nine routes. The Callahans also plan to offer clinics for women, families and lead climbing.

Originally from Great Falls, Budeski-Callahan was competitive gymnast in her youth; she has since become certified to teach Pilates, spin classes and gymnastics.

Her business motto with Big Sky Fitness Fusion is “helping you stay fit and healthy,” and a slew of other class offerings do just that. Pilates, ski conditioning, spin, kids’ gymnastics, over-60 fitness classes, and ‘total body challenge’ are all focused on camaraderie.

“You can push yourself harder with fun competition,” Budeski-Callahan says. Her other emphasis is core strength.

“The core is the main stabilizer of the whole body,” she says. “If the core is not strong, the whole body won’t be strong. I use that concept in every single class – how to engage the core – [even when] teaching kids gymnastics and rock climbing.”

Big Sky resident and parent Lisa Beczkiewicz attends Callahan-Budeski’s classes regularly. She loves the early morning spin classes, and also the Fit Moms classes, which provide childcare on-site.

“It’s a great opportunity to get fit and be social, get mama out of the house,” said Beczkiewicz. “[Jolene] is a motivated and talented instructor who knows how to encourage and push you in a kind manner.”

Marilyn Hill, 80, used the spin classes to train for the an 109 mile ride on the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota a couple years ago, and now attends Pilates twice a week.

Pilates helps keep “all parts of me moving,” Hill says. “[It’s] invigorating but relaxing at the same time, and I feel so much more alive and ready for the day when it is finished.”

“Don’t get the idea it’s a seniors’ class,” Hill said. “There are several [people] much less than half my age … We work at our own pace and everyone is challenged … Jolene moves seamlessly and energetically from one core-strengthening exercise to the other, wasting no time while quietly telling us exactly what to do, including when to breathe.”

Now with 40 regulars at her spin classes, 50 to 60 kids participating in gymnastics and rock climbing, as well as 30 other clients for Pilates, personal training and conditioning, Budeski-Callahan is busy enough that she can imagine a major expansion. Plus, she says, she’ll be losing the space at Geyser come summer, and there’s no existing building in Big Sky that would fit her needs.

“My goal is to have a climbing wall where we can have eight top ropes, four areas for lead climbing and a bouldering cave. Upstairs I’d have a big open space for adult fitness, spin, pilates [and] senior fitness. I’d like to do summer rock climbing camps for kids.”

She wants to build her own facility, she says. “That’s the major scheme.”

Open sessions at Geyser Whitewater’s rock climbing and bouldering walls starts Feb. 23 and will be Mondays and Tuesdays (6-9 p.m.) and Saturdays (4:30-8:30 p.m.) into May.