For the group of women who had worked together to stay healthy and fit through the holiday season, just getting into their little black dresses was reward enough.
But when a black stretch limo pulled up outside the Natural High Fitness Club at The Tannery Marketplace in Newburyport, they realized they were in for a real treat of an evening.
For four weeks, 15 women — ranging in age from their 20s to 60s — participated in the Little Black Dress Boot Camp, led by Natural High co-owner Nancy McCarthy. Starting in early December, they met twice a week in the evenings and also worked out on their own.
On Sunday, Jan. 5, McCarthy had instructed the women to don their dresses and meet at the fitness club to celebrate their accomplishments. McCarthy’s husband, photographer Jay McCarthy, took picture after picture of the women, including full-length portraits, headshots and group shots.
“Everyone looked so beautiful,” said Carol Gamble, 62, who unearthed from her closet a dress that hadn’t fit her for years. “The theme of having a little black dress, it was fun, it was elegant.”
“We felt special,” said Rosalie Cuticchia, 66, who also wore a dress that she hadn’t put on in a long time.
After the photo shoot, Nancy McCarthy told the women, “Our ride is here!” Surprised by the appearance of the limo, the boot camp “graduates” all piled in for a mystery ride that took them around Newburyport for an hour, driving through Plum Island, past Maudslay State Park and eventually stopping in front of The Port Tavern.
Cuticchia said she loved the ride because it was the first chance she really had to get to know the other women, since they were too busy exercising during boot camp sessions.
“During that ride, I ‘saw’ the women I had been working out with for four weeks,” she said. “We were able to just talk for an hour.”