Dynamic duo

Val Haskell and Jenni Stolarski stay fit with soccer, yoga… and anything else

FITNESS

SLIM WITHOUT GYM | Be it running, walking or swimming from a trapeze, Val Haskell and Jenni Stolarski find fitness almost anywhere there go — as long as it’s not in a gym. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

The adage every journey begins with a first step is as true for a fitness regime as a world tour. For dynamic duo Jenni Stolarski and Val Haskell, those steps may be along the banks of the Trinity River, on a soccer field or even on the rungs of a ladder for a trapeze course. These ladies mix it up in a spectrum of workout routines. They’re game to try almost anything, as long as it doesn’t involve being trapped indoors.

— Jef Tingley

Names and ages: 

Jenni Stolarski, 41, and Val Haskell, 39.

Occupations:

Stolarski: Realtor, Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty

Haskell: project manager.

Length of relationship: 

19 years.

Sports & activities:

Tennis, walking, running, soccer, yoga, trapeze (!).

Exercise regime: 

Stolarski: I walk five days a week for an hour. I have two walking buddies who make this possible. If left to my own devices, I’d just stay in bed. [I also do] yoga two or three times a week, including a core-strength class, and tennis once a week.

Haskell: Typically I run four times a week, play tennis once, and during the soccer season, I play a game a week.

Upcoming fitness goals:

Stolarski: Consistency. This summer, Val and I did a trapeze course with my brother and his wife in NYC. I was sore for days. But I want to continue to have the energy, strength and stamina to try fun things like that for the rest of my life.

Haskell: I’d love to show a decent time in a half marathon and help my soccer team with some goals and assists next season. Also focusing on the A’s next year: Abs, arms and…

Most memorable athletic accomplishment: 

Haskell: If the number of videos and random mentions are the barometer, it would have to be going to trapeze school for an afternoon. I had no idea it was so hard! Getting up and down from that bar in mid-air is serious work.

Least favorite exercise or piece of gym equipment? 

Stolarski: The gym. Period. I like to be outside.

Haskell: I can’t stand the gym, either.

Favorite spot in North Texas to exercise outdoors? 

Stolarski: We have taken to hiking/walking in the Trinity River Basin. There is a small dirt path that runs along the levee. It’s quiet down there, which is amazing when you remember it’s in this huge city. And the views are great.

Haskell: Coombs Creek Trail, Stevens Park tennis courts, Katy Trail and White Rock Lake

Ways you stay fit or workout together? 

Stolarski: Being active together was one of the ways we got to know each other. We played soccer and swam at UT. That just carried on through the years; we biked, we hiked the Tetons, we played soccer. Val taught me how to play tennis. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend time together.

How does your partner motivate you to work out? 

Stolarski: I know Val is always going to come up with some crazy idea of a fun thing to do. Did I mention trapeze school was her idea? And I don’t want to miss out.

Haskell: She gets out of bed early and meets someone for her workout five days a week, which means lounging in bed is not as compelling. She also says nice things about the way I look, which I really like.

How do you reward yourself after a great workout? 

Stolarski: My reward is waking up every day, getting to feel good. It sounds cheesy as all get out, but really, the reward is that I get to keep exercising.

Words of advice for people trying to work fitness into their life? 

Haskell: Incorporate it socially. Walk with a friend, play tennis with a work buddy, join a team or a running group like the Dallas Running Club. The more you merge your social life and active life, the easier it is to make it fit into your schedule. And your friends end up with shared goals and you encourage each other.

If you could become an Olympian in any sport, what would it be and why?

Stolarski: I’d want to play soccer on the U.S. National team. Those women have such a great dynamic; it’s a joy to watch. Plus it would make my dad, who’s been a soccer coach for 40 years, ridiculously proud.

Favorite song or playlist for working out? 

Stolarski: None. That is part of the joy of being outside: It comes with its own soundtrack.

Haskell: I’m usually outside running in the dark, yelling at my teammates on a soccer field or chatting
on the tennis court, so no playlist for me.

Which celebrity or athlete’s physique would you like to have and why? 

Stolarski: Abby Wambach. That woman was built to play soccer!

Haskell: A few years ago, I saw a picture of Joan Jett at a concert and she still looked great
and had amazing arms. I aspire to look good, healthy and lean in my 50s.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dynamic duo

For partners Jeff Duffey and Matt Maynard, working out is just part of the life cycle

Fitness

RACKET, CLUB | Jeff Duffey, left, is a tennis fanatic and his partner Matt Maynard, right, enjoys golf, but both enjoy training together as they did for the MS 150 Bike Ride earlier this year. (Arnold Wayne Jones/ Dallas Voice)

Where there’s a wheel, there’s a way. Or in the case of this month’s dynamic duo, it’s more like four wheels to get the job done. Although golf, tennis and running factor into their weekly workout routines, it’s lengthy bike rides (78 miles and counting to date) that really help partners Matt Maynard and Jeff Duffey to keep their healthy lifestyle in high gear.

— Jef Tingley

Names and ages: Matt Maynard, 37, and Jeff Duffey, 33. (Together 10 years.)

Occupations: Maynard: owner & founder of Discount Sport Nutrition and SportSupplements.com; Duffey: real estate broker and owner, Jeff Duffey & Associates.

What sports and physical activities do you both participate in?  Biking, running, tennis, volleyball and golf.

Exercise regime:  Maynard: Running or biking at least three times a week is my goal. If I am training for a race or ride, I try to make it four times a week.
Duffey: I play tennis three to four times a week. Otherwise, I try to bike or run a couple times a week.

Most memorable athletic accomplishment:  Maynard: A year ago, I played in a high-profile charity golf tournament in San Diego and my team won first place. The prize was two, first-class tickets to Europe. It was Jeff’s first time to visit Europe, so that meant a lot to me.

Duffey: I have a few. Back in 2003, my men’s tennis league finished first in Texas and we went on to play in the National Tournament in Tucson — it was a great experience. Completing a 78-mile bike ride with Matt and several of our friends at last year’s MS 150 Bike Ride was pretty awesome as well.

Workout preference: mornings or evenings?  Maynard: Mornings.

Duffey: I wish I could work out in the mornings, but I gave up on trying to be a morning person a long time ago. I’d much rather go to the gym at 10 p.m. to run five miles than force myself out of bed at 6 a.m.

And words of advice for people trying to work fitness into their life?  Maynard: Do it in the mornings and get it out of the way. Most people get tired as the day goes on and other things can come up allowing you to make excuses for not working out. Getting on a good supplement program can definitely help you reach your goals faster.

Duffey: I’m probably not the best person to tell people they need to make fitness a priority in their life, since I’m one of those people who is guilty of finding excuses not to go to the gym or workout. But you really do have to treat fitness as you would a social engagement or business appointment. It helps that with tennis, biking and golfing there is usually someone else there to keep you accountable.

If you could become an Olympian in any sport, what would it be and why?  Maynard: Curling, just because it looks fun!
Duffey: Playing tennis is an obvious answer for me, but I’ve secretly always wanted to be a gymnast. But I’m 6-foot-3, and being tall isn’t exactly a great quality to have in gymnastics.

Do you have a favorite song or playlist for working out?  Duffey: I’m sure if you heard some of the playlists I run or bike to you wouldn’t know what to think about me. For the most part, I like pop and hip-hop, but you just never know when an awesome rock ballad or Tupac song might show up.

Which celebrity or athlete’s physique would you like to have and why?  Duffey: It bothers me a little that he’s less than six feet tall, but you can’t get much more athletically and aesthetically perfect than David Beckham, although I do think Michael Phelps has a superior physique. So, yeah. Put David Beckham’s head on Michael Phelps’ 6-foot-4 frame and that’s pretty much perfection in my book.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dynamic DUO

Whether running in the Turkey Trot or going for a swim, husbands Enrique McGregor and Mark Niermann make marriage (and exercise) look easy

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TAKING THE PLUNGE | McGregor, left, and Niermann have been together 15 years, marrying legally last month. For a slide show of their aquatic antics, visit DallasVoice.com. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Although they’ve been together for 15 years, it was only about a month ago that this month’s dynamic duo, Enrique Macgregor and Mark Niermann, officially got hitched. (Thanks, New York!)

Judging from their exercise regime and overall healthy lifestyle, they take those “sickness and health” and “for better or worse” vows pretty seriously. … Well that, plus margaritas, chocolate chip cookies and generous helping of motivation and support make up their recipe for a successful marriage.

— Jef Tingley

Names and ages:  Enrique MacGregor, 47, and Mark Niermann, 48 (just barely)

Occupations:  MacGregor: management consultant; Niermann; lawyer

Length of relationship:  15 years, but legally married on Sept. 28, 2011, in New York’s Supreme Court Building.

Sports & activities:  Members of Dallas Aquatic Masters (DAM); occasionally play golf with Different Strokes Golf Association.

Exercise regimen:  MacGregor: I swim or run two or three times a week; I do weight training once or twice a week.
Niermann: Cardio (swimming or running) three times weekly; weights two times. I don’t have a rigid exercise schedule other than my objective to work out at least four times weekly. When we’re training for an event, like a biking or running race, we’ll do more running or biking.

Upcoming fitness goals:  Both: the 8-mile Turkey Trot race in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.

Most memorable athletic accomplishment:  MacGregor: I rode my bike right behind Lance Armstrong at a Livestrong event in Austin as we both crossed the finish line at the same time. Of course, I was finishing a 45-mile ride, and he was finishing a 90-mile ride.

Workout preference: mornings or evenings?  MacGregor: I don’t have a set workout time unless I’m working out with a group. I try to think about my work schedule a day ahead and then plan a workout time around that. I’m jealous of people who can get up at 5 a.m. to workout. I am not a morning person.
Niermann: Either, and lunch too — whenever I can fit it in depending on my schedule and the time of year (especially for running outside).

How do you motivate yourself to workout?  MacGregor: I sign up for an event, like a race. Then I know I have to make time to get ready for that event. I am much more engaged in a workout when I’m preparing for an event.

How does your partner motivate you to work out?  MacGregor: He offers options. For instance, he’ll say: “Do you want to go for a run today, or would you rather go for a swim?” Or, “Would you like to do our run before lunch or would you rather do it later in the afternoon?”

Words of advice for people trying to work fitness into their life?  Niermann: Enrique and I are not workout fanatics or super athletes. We try to get regular exercise and generally eat healthy food. (We include wine, margaritas and chocolate chip cookies in the category of “healthy food.”) We enjoy training for special athletic challenges, like running races, but we don’t always have a specific goal or race we’re training for. We also enjoy playing golf (aka “hacking”) and skiing, and like to stay in shape in ways to complement those sports.

Like everything in life, exercise is easiest and most effective if you can find a balance, both in terms of the kinds of working out you do and how often you do it. Working out doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) take over your life — you can pack a lot of good into a 30- or 45-minute workout of any kind.

Follow common sense rules of not overdoing it when or how you eat and exercise. Being healthy is more than how much weight you can lift or how fast you can run — it’s about achieving a good balance in life of healthy eating, regular exercise, healthy relationships with friends, family and partners and finding ways to minimize stress.

Favorite spot in North Texas to exercise outdoors:
MacGregor: Stevens Park Golf Course (and don’t tell me that golf doesn’t count as exercise).
Niermann: I don’t really have one, though I belong to the Baylor–Tom Landry Center. Though if I had to pick, I’d say Neiman’s Downtown – Last Call.

Favorite song or playlist for working out?  MacGregor: I like to run listening to Lance Armstrong’s “Run Longer” playlist. Aside from good music, Lance’s voice takes you through interval sets where you speed up and slow down in four-minute increments. This technique is supposed to improve your performance.

Which celebrity or athlete’s physique would you like to have and why:  MacGregor: Chris Evans. He has a nice athletic build, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Niermann: Any AussieBum model … have you seen their ads?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Tripping on a budget

Recently, my boyfriend and I wanted to embark on a fun, easy and cheap getaway. Since I live in Rhode Island, we were sold on the idea of a short drive out to Provincetown, Mass. right on the tip of Cape Cod. We gave ourselves a budget of just $150 for the 24-hour adventure — and even with gas at four bucks a gallon, we made it happen. Here’s how we did it … and how you might on your next trip:

Call motels and inns directly. While booking online is super convenient, it’s always helpful to talk to a real person. They will know of any last-minute cancellations or special discounts.

Travel off-peak. Our motel room was just $87 on a Thursday night. The same room on Friday before Memorial Day goes for $150. We saved $63 by leaving a day early.

Travel locally. While the world is full of wonderful destinations, many great spots are in our own backyards. You don’t have to travel far to have a great time. And staying closer to home will help keep costs under control. By driving the two hours to P’town, we saved a potential boatload of transportation expenses (airfare, taxi, etc.).

Eat like a local. P’town’s downtown core, like many tourist spots, is full of great but pricey restaurants. By taking a short drive off the beaten path, we were able to find a local hangout with more reasonable prices — dinner cost $28 for the both of us.

Use your feet. While P’town has some convenient paid parking lots, we were able to find a free parking spot a short walk from downtown (a $10 savings). Some destinations also offer great public transit options, making for an affordable and fun way to experience a town and meet new people.

Take advantage of the free stuff. Some of the best things Provincetown has to offer — landscapes, beaches and nature trails, people-watching and architecture (like the Pilgrims Monument, pictured) — are free. Hanging out in the sand and getting a little sun charges the soul and doesn’t break the bank.

Pack your own beverages. For less than $10, we filled my trunk with bottled water and soft drinks so we didn’t waste money on motel vending machines. Even better, bring along a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and help save the environment. Cheers!

Hit up the grocery store. Since we were only staying for one night, stocking up on groceries didn’t make a lot of sense, but for longer trips, I love packing the mini fridge full of fresh food. It’s a lot cheaper than restaurant dining — and a lot healthier. Fruits, veggies and sandwiches bought at a local grocery store make for great food alternatives.

Take advantage of free food. Our motel offered a free continental breakfast. It wasn’t super fancy, but a quick croissant and coffee tided us over until the bigger meal of the day. Ask about any included meals when booking your room.

Talk to the locals. I try to befriend locals wherever I go. Natives can be a tremendous resource of recommendations and often know of free events (concerts, festivals, etc.). Be friendly and wear your smile.

— David “Davey Wavey” Jacques

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

‘Dying’ onstage

Rhett Henckel plays twin brothers — one straight, one gay — in ‘Dying City’

It’s not unusual for an actor to play multiple roles in a single play, but that’s a position usually reserved for minor characters. But for Rhett Henckel, the two men he plays in Dying City — twin brothers —are the main characters. One, seen in flashbacks, is a straight man who may have killed himself in Iraq; the other is a gay actor who visits the dead man’s widow a year after his death.

Second Thought Theatre closes out its 10th season with Christopher Shinn’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play that touches on the Iraq War and the prickliness of family relations with a clipped, realistic style. Lee Trull makes his directorial debut.

We asked Henckel about playing two roles — and which one he identifies with more.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

…………………

DYING CITY
Studio Theatre, Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road. Through July 2. $15–$20.
SecondThoughtTheatre.com

…………………

Dallas Voice: One of your characters, Peter, is described as an “intimidatingly handsome actor.” Typecasting? Henckel: I’ve been self-described as that, but I don’t hear it all the time. I have to act a little for it — I have to earn it this time.

Peter has a promising career, but he seems to have slept his way there. Same question. [Laughs] That’s maybe some advice I should take! If I want to have as promising a career as him, I should be more promiscuous. I’ve never really had that opportunity to do that — maybe I should have initiated it more. Though in rehearsals, I have flirted with [director] Lee Trull much more than I expected to. I’m constantly trying to gauge my fuckability in Lee’s eyes.

The play jumps quickly between years, and requires you to go between Peter, who’s gay, and his twin brother Craig, who’s straight. How do you subtly convey which character you are? I hope that I am doing it subtly. I think Christopher Shinn is very intentional on that — he wants the audience to be confused for a bit, even though they are two distinct characters. I’m not working off myself because I don’t see that character; it’s been through the eyes of Kelly [Craig’s widow] that I find the characters. Peter and Craig have very distinct opinions of Kelly, so that has opened up a lot.

But I think they are really alike. There’s a reason you are supposed to be confused. They have a lot of the same psychology and grew up in the same household. I have a therapist I talk to who I shared this play with, and when I said they had been described as polar opposites, he looked at me strangely. He thought they weren’t at all opposite, but really two extremes of one person. We’re all sort of that complex.

Which character do you relate to more? When I first started I identified as Peter — his passive-aggressive way of dealing with people; being an actor; his rampant egoism. But once we got into rehearsal, it was Craig I found quicker. There’s a quiet fury in this man that I feel like I ended up relating to. A lot more things are going on in Peter; Craig is a little bit simpler.

Peter is kind of complicated, for one, pretending to be antiwar to his gay friends even though he could not escape his conservative upbringing: Midwest values, guns, hawkishness about spreading freedom. Did you get that contradiction in him? I’m not even sure that’s entirely true — that’s what Craig says Peter told him. It’s hard to get to the core of what Peter really believes. Getting to the core is what’s so devastating. Being really honest about how we feel, confronting ourselves.

If I had to label the main theme of the play I would say it’s about how difficult true honesty can be: to others, to one’s self. What’s your take on it? No, that’s absolutely correct. Lies in this play are a very core theme. As any great play, it confronts this idea of what is the absolute truth. I hadn’t thought of it before, but Brick [in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof] is a very similar character to Craig. And even Peter. What is a lie and what is full disclosure and what is truly at the core of ourselves? It’s really fucking messy when we get right down to it.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Dynamic duo

Dallas’ fittest gay couples share their secrets for staying healthy and happy

ATHLETIC PAIR | World-class swimmer Dave Swenson, right, and his biking-running mate of 21 years James Maddox, left, will be headed to Hawaii next month for Swenson to compete in a major gay swimming meet. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

It’s been said that couples who bench-press together, stay together. OK, maybe that’s never been said, but it should have been — especially about gay couples. There’s something special about a relationship built on shared values, especially if those values include the inspiration and motivation to stay in shape. And, in an era when childhood obesity is alarmingly on the rise, recognizing those who stay fit as they age together seems like an especially responsible activity.

Which is why we kick off a new series in Dallas Voice dedicated to fit couples — those who bond over a decadent lunch of Bibb lettuce and Tic-Tacs instead of burgers and beer. You’re unlikely to see a muffin in their hands — or a muffin top around their Spandex.

We begin the series with a couple who have made exercise a part of their lives and their relationship for more than 20 years.

— Jef Tingley

………………………….

Names and ages: Dave Swenson, 48, and James Maddox, 43.

Occupations: Swenson: Manager for a Frisco software company;

Maddox: Customs broker

Years together: 21 in October.

Sports: Swenson: Swimming; Maddox: Running and biking.

Exercise regime: Swenson: I swim with the Dallas Aquatic Masters (DAM) three to four times a week. I also lift weights at the gym, but not nearly as often as I’d like. I used to run and do triathlons, but running injuries have pushed me more towards swimming.

Maddox: I lift weights five times per week, as well as run and row three times a week.

Do you play any sports or are you on any leagues: Swenson: I’m a registered U.S. Masters swimmer, and swim with the Dallas Aquatic Masters. I used to swim fairly regularly in masters swim meets, but I’m starting to enjoy open water swimming more than pool swimming. Last summer I swam in the Waikiki Roughwater swim in Hawaii, finishing second in my age group and 24th overall out of about 1,000 swimmers. In July, I’m swimming in the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatic Championships in Oahu, which includes another open water swim.

Most memorable athletic goal accomplished: Swenson: There have been a few, for different reasons. Qualifying for the 1984 Olympic Trials; being named to a U.S. National Swim Team; setting the SWC swimming record in the mile; breaking a world record in masters swimming; completing my first marathon; and watching James finish his first half-marathon.

Maddox: I have completed two half-marathons. It is a great feeling to cross that finish line after months of continual exercise and pushing yourself.

Upcoming fitness goals: Swenson: Just to remain active and healthy. If my legs hold out, I’d like to finish an Ironman distance triathlon one day.

Maddox: Lose 10 pounds for our July beach vacation.

Least favorite piece of gym equipment: Swenson: A treadmill — running in place is a slow form of torture.

Least favorite exercise: Maddox: Sit-ups!

Workouts preference: mornings or evenings? Maddox: I prefer to run in the evenings. However, as the temperature increases, I will run in the morning before work, when it is cooler. I primarily lift weights on my lunch hour and row in the evenings at the gym.

Favorite spot in North Texas to exercise outdoors: Maddox: White Rock Lake is beautiful. The Katy Trail has beautiful people. However, the Addison Trail, near my home, is nice and convenient, so I utilize it most often.

If you could become an Olympian in any sport, what would it be and why: Maddox: Gymnastics. The talent and skill of good gymnasts is so evident in their performance. The best ones make it look so easy. And, they have incredible physiques.

How do you reward yourself for a great workout: Maddox: Cheesecake and peanut butter!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens