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Muddied bikes await cleanup at Alpenglow Fitness. Courtesy photo.


By Elise Annes

When Alpenglow Fitness in downtown Montpelier talks about the reason for its existence, it is beyond being a cycling or exercise studio. “Alpenglow is a place where all are welcome and have the opportunity to boost their mood, connect with others, and become stronger along the way,” says Zea Sands, the studio’s manager, who is also an instructor. 

This past month has taken all of the strength — physically and emotionally — for so many staff and volunteers — that has been built in part at Alpenglow. Like most downtown businesses, Alpenglow was devasted by the record-breaking rising waters on July 11. This small studio had liability insurance but did not have flood insurance. It is too expensive for most small businesses to carry flood insurance and most businesses in downtown Montpelier did not have it.

“The community of volunteers responded right away. It was truly amazing and has carried us through this last week. We were able to take down drywall, insulation, mirrors, and bleach our equipment with hours of volunteer labor,” says Sands.

Sands’ optimism and energy doesn’t hide what Alpenglow looks like behind her, and the work that lies ahead. While the full extent is still unknown, the bathroom, carpets, and even the bikes were impacted. The studio needs a complete makeover in order to continue. 

Over the course of the past few weeks, heroes emerged to help Alpenglow’s effort. There were more than twenty volunteers in and out of the studio and helping in different ways. These were the kind of heroes who are humble and refuse to recognize that description. 

One of the people who was extraordinary in Alpenglow’s recovery efforts was Zea’s husband Kyle Sands. Kyle hardly lifted his head up as he sawed drywall, took down mirrors, and spent his day at the studio putting in his tremendous effort. Kyle works for Washington Electric Co-operative and spent the night helping keep the lights on where they had failed. When asked if he was tired from his lack of sleep he smiles and says, “it will hit me eventually.” 

The bikes and equipment have recently moved about seven minutes out of town to higher ground and made possible with the generosity of volunteers with those who own trucks, several cycle instructors, and a family that offered the space for temporary classes. These are individuals who give meaning to the slogan “Vermont Strong” as they show resilience and perseverance in the face of obstacles. 

So, while there is a long road ahead and the rebuilding will take time, effort, and funding, there is a lot of support and appreciation for those that are helping Alpenglow come back to Montpelier’s Main Street, where once again all will be welcome. 

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