Carol Mecsas, 47
Carol Mecsas, who hails from Lincoln, Mass., was a senior at Bowdoin College studying neuroscience when she first heard of a new martial arts program based in Topsham. She began taking classes then and actually commuted from Boston back to Maine to continue classes while earning her graduate degree at Brandeis.
She moved back to Maine in 1992 to work for Riverview Foundation as a martial arts instructor. She is now the director of universal movement, managing all of Riverview’s martial arts programs, which blend kung fu, karate and meditation skills for all ages. She teaches an array of courses from authentic martial arts to custom-designed courses specializing in energy management for better health and wellness.
“I started studying martial arts for mental acuity and physical fitness,” says Mecsas. “It was Riverview’s friendly approach to traditional martial arts, and its full body health benefits that inspired me to pursue it as a career.”
Riverview Foundation is a multi-faceted institution that teaches non-competitive martial arts, runs summer camps and afterschool programs for kids, and designs health and wellness programs for individuals and groups.
Mecsas says martial arts provides her and her students with the tools needed to stay healthy, happy, and to live a balanced and productive life. She says the movements of non-competitve martial arts are easy to learn and energizing. Martial arts, she says, fosters a strong connection between mind, body, and spirit, as techniques are practiced and mastered through time.
“It’s not just about physical health,” she says. “The classes are designed to boost mental clarity and strengthen one’s spirit, while cultivating lasting physical health.”
One component of Riverview’s programs that Mecsas has always found especially appealing is the outdoor training. In Topsham, Riverview’s facility is nestled on 164 acres that border the Cathance River. Its South Portland facility on Ocean Street provides access to South Portland and Cape Elizabeth’s beaches and state parks, during warmer weather. Its Moose River facility for organized trips and groups is surrounded by wilderness to help provide that spirit of oneness with nature that Mecsas says “reconnects Maine people with its greatest health resource – nature.”
“Historically, martial arts and training outdoors have always gone hand in hand,” she says.
Riverview, with its staff of 12 martial arts instructors, offers about 30 classes a week for all ages. Mecsas teaches children as young as 5 and adults well into their 60s. Classes are ongoing and year round. Mecsas or another instructor generally works one-on-one with newcomers for the first two sessions so that people can get a feel of the environment, the teaching style and the basic movements. If someone is looking for a fast-paced, energetic workout, that’s what they’ll get. If someone is looking for something more relaxed, movements are tailored to benefit that person.
Riverview also encourages students and family members to get involved with its Kids Who Care community service initiatives. Mecsas says she and about 90 people spent a rainy day recently at Fort Preble, working to preserve and groom the historic site.
“We’re about healthy individuals, healthy families and healthy communities,” she says.
As Mecsas celebrates her 25th year of involvement with Riverview, she’s hoping to be around for another 25.
“Teaching people easy, enjoyable movements that bring peace and happiness into everyday living is a joy for me,” she says. “It’s an ideal environment for positive learning and living.”
Carol Mecsas says she’s always found the outdoor training at Riverview Foundation especially appealing. Carol Mecsas says martial arts provides her and her students with the tools needed to stay healthy, happy, and to live a balanced and productive life.