Linda Silich, a personal trainer who has been working this winter with the East Hampton High School boys and girls indoor track teams, leading spin and TRX classes, was a football cheerleader at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, in the mid-1980s, “probably for lack of anything else to do,” she said, given the fact that the Title IX changes hadn’t fully kicked in yet.
Her athleticism, Silich said during a conversation this week at The Star, probably came from her father, a Lutheran minister who played football for Youngstown State, and her musical ability — she can play the piano by ear and sings — from her mother, who was the pianist at her father’s church.
“I burn a lot of calories,” said the lively mother of three, who, besides a busy personal training schedule, is a landscape designer with Groundworks, a company she and Kim Hren started a decade ago in the Siliches’ basement, and which now has 22 employees, all of them presumably in shape given the fact that they all work out with her on a regular basis.
Asked if all her children — Erica, a freshman at High Point University, and Matthew and Patrick, East Hampton High School students — were athletic, Silich smiled and said she doubted they had a choice. “They’ve been in gyms with me ever since they were in the womb!”
Her husband, Andy, Groundworks’ chief fiscal officer, “was a team guy” when she met him, “but I got him running. We did the Marine Corps Marathon together. “You see him running all over town now, the crazy guy in shorts.”
The interviewee, who majored in speech and business and minored in musical theory at Wittenberg, was the national account manager for Computer Associates before she began to devote herself to personal training, beginning with young mothers in Reston, Va., where she and her Bonac-bred husband, whom she had met in Manhattan, lived for 11 years before moving here.
Asked if it had been difficult to rear her children while giving strength training and cardio kick boxing classes and the like, Silich, who has “taught it all,” said, “All the gyms in the South have infant care.”
Having overseen spin classes for the past dozen years, beginning in Reston, Silich has since last February been the spinning instructor at Flywheel Sports, near East Hampton Bowl, and has for the past year and a half given TRX training at Rich Decker’s Studio 89 off Route 114 in Sag Harbor.
She readily assented when, in December, Chris Reich, who coaches the high school’s boys indoor track team, asked if she’d give some spin and TRX classes to his and Shani Cuesta’s charges.
“TRX,” she said, in reply to a question, “stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise. It’s just one strap that hangs from a ceiling. It fits in my suitcase — you can take it on vacation with you. While TRX was developed by a Navy Seal, you don’t have to be a Navy Seal to do it. It’s for all ages, all levels of fitness. Though it is important how it’s taught and introduced. I have 10 teens doing TRX on Wednesdays, five from East Hampton and five from Sag Harbor. . . . My oldest student is a 72-year-old man, a runner from the city — he’s great.”
Questioned further as to TRX, she said, “You’re using your own body weight and gravity to develop strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability — all at the same time. . . . You have to really think about what you’re doing with your body — you’re working your core the entire time, though it’s a great stretching and flexibility tool as well. . . . Close supervision is essential, you need to be safe and to understand the technique — that’s why I work with another trainer, Randy Leland, and won’t take more than 10 in a class.”
Spinning offered an alternative way, she said, for tracksters to work their legs. And when it came to the sessions, she said, her musical bent and her eclectic choices designed to “appeal to the masses” enabled her to create “a training-learning experience to connect mind and body . . . I’m not just pounding out numbers and screaming at people.”
Music, she added, “can take you to different places, it can remind you of happy times, it can help you visualize. With the kids at the session you were at the other day, I had them visualize that they were riding up to Hither Woods, or pretending they were passing the baton on the track, or finishing a race. Music’s not only a motivator, it drives the inner person to keep going, to stay with one’s goals and to stay healthy and focused. . . . We work hard, but we have fun.”
Then, too, she said, when it came to teenage boys and girls, “Flywheel’s unique torque board display plays a big role because on it they can see everybody’s bike number, how fast they went, and how many calories they burned. The girls like it that they can see how many calories they’ve burned; the boys like it because they can say, ‘See, I beat so-and-so!’ ”
Silich will oversee a free teen Valentine spin at Flywheel on Monday at 4 p.m., is working on getting TRX training into the high school, and is to give a TRX course next month to physical therapists and medical students to show how it can be used to rehab injuries.
In sum, “I want everybody to stay active and healthy. It keeps the mind sharp. The body is like a car,” she said with a smile. “If you don’t use it and oil it and do the maintenance, it won’t run.”