Source: The Independent

HEALTH & FITNESS : Irina Does It With Class

by Kitty Merrill

January 23, 2013

By Kitty Merrill

… Make that, lots of classes. Gurney’s “Member of the Year” for 2012, Irina Tolmacheva has taken, and continues to take, just about every class the Montauk spa offers, from Pilates to TRX to Yoga to Spin to Aquatic training. And she takes at least one of them every day.

A massage therapist by profession, Tolmacheva moved to East Hampton about three years ago. She visited Gurney’s for dinners and parties, but didn’t learn about the spa until about two years ago.

At Gurney’s annual Spatini event, Zumba instructor Anastasia handed out promotional class tickets – “And that was it,” Tolmacheva said.

Although she stayed in shape walking every day, it wasn’t until she tried classes at Gurney’s that her fitness level and motivation skyrocketed. “I never took an exercise class in a group until two years ago,” she said. “I went from nothing to everything.” Now she calls fellow athletes in the fitness center her family.

“I try to swim and take two classes every day, depending on what I’m in the mood for. They have all kinds of exercise that suits anybody. If you want hard exercise, you can take the circuit training and you’ll sweat your ass off,” she said with a laugh.

Tolmacheva credits Zumba instructor Anastasia with the initial inspiration. “Looking at her figure, I thought, ‘Oh, my god, I want the same’ . . . and I got the same.’”

Tolmacheva transformed from wearing a size 10 to fitting in to a size two dress. Within two, two and a half months of beginning, she said, “Twenty pounds -- shredded, and I have managed to keep it the same.”

And Tolmacheva likes to eat. Sitting in Gurney’s Beach Bakery on Sunday, she confessed, “I come here almost every day. I’m not on any diet.”

Other than a diet of abundant exertion. She lauded Pilates instructor Patty’s class as “the best anywhere,” and spoke of yoga mentor Joy Hear with admiration. “She’s so motivated. Within two months she had me doing a headstand.” Tolmacheva now practices yoga via SKYPE with her two sons, who live in Minsk.

Admitting some classes aren’t instantly easy, she pointed out, “I have scoliosis and I was nine months doing Pilates to be able to sit straight. It doesn’t happen in one day, but if you’re really persistent, you can do it.”

She feels having an expert evaluate posture and form during exercise is invaluable. “It’s all personalized. The instructors are constantly watching, constantly correcting.” The camaraderie of classmates is a motivator, too, she noted. “We help each other.”

So are the ocean vistas at Gurney’s. Several classes, like TRX, yoga, boot camp, and spin are held outdoors when the weather permits. “When you hear the ocean,” she said, “It’s very good.”

Once afraid, Tolmacheva became a devotee of aquatic exercise. “Here at Gurney’s I learned to swim. I was always scared of the water before, but they have such a perfect view, a nice pool and perfect instructors.”

Summarizing she enthused, “I just love this place. It’s very, very home like. It has the best atmosphere, the people are so nice, I can’t say a bad word about it.”

Tolmacheva doesn’t just take every class; she often takes pictures of every class, as evidenced on this page. See more by visiting our website,