Kalamazoo Community Ed. This is where it all began 17 years ago. The program’s director Theresa Jacobson gave me my first chance in the business. I am not sure if she ever knew, but I had never even TAKEN a group fitness class, much less taught one. But I had my shiny new Personal Trainer cert in hand and was ready to roll. Or so I thought! When I took the stage for that first Basic Fitness class, I thought I would pass out from the sheer terror of it all. I don’t recall much from the first class, and I am sure it was horrible, but I muddled through that first semester, and managed to retain 9 of the 14 people who attended.
Throughout my 17 years with the program, we worked to offer affordable, effective, and fun fitness classes. I continued with Basic Fitness, and added a Power Hour muscle endurance class, a Boot Camp, and a Yoga/Pilates fusion-type class. As well as a few others, which only lasted one semester. Meaning they did not go over quite so well. You win some, you lose some… But Basic Fitness, Boot Camp, Yoga, and Power Hour continued to be popular classes. Power Hour was by far the best attended class and one semester we had 47 participants. Wow! And this class was full of regulars. People continued, to my amazement, to sign up semester after semester. This speaks of the power of a well-organized muscle endurance class. It works!
The Power Hour people wanted to continue in the summer, so we organized a class which we held at a local apartment community clubhouse which one of the gals managed. And a few brave souls would gather on my deck in the heat of summer, and I held an outside circuit class using all of my favorite at-home fitness toys. We also tried an outside boot camp, and a walking class. All of them were great fun for me to organize and teach.
We became a community, then a family. We supported each other through life’s roller coaster of triumphs and tragedies. Many long-lasting friendships were formed and continue. We had all kinds of fitness levels in the classes from newbies to athletes. As we collectively aged I became the queen of modifications. Whenever someone would come to me with a condition or just plain old aches and pains, I would start my research and see what we could to improve the condition and what exercises should be avoided. And I became more convinced exercise is truly a healing art all of its own. I wish more people could believe this. I worked really hard to find the right balance for everyone. And I worked equally as hard to push them to work as hard as possible within their own limits. And I had lots of fun doing it!
We worked our muscles in Power Hour. Tested our endurance in Boot Camp. And chilled in Yoga. And I even got hubby Bruce to participate. He became one of the Back Row Gang, as I fondly referred to them. And I had to shush Back Row on more than one occasion. They are a noisy bunch, my fault probably, getting all those endorphins flowing through their systems. But they were easily settled down by a long series of squat and lunge work.
During our last week of class, they presented us with a sweet gift card which we will use for some neat RV stuff. Tonight we meet for one final hurrah. Not an exercise class, but a gathering where we can socialize and reflect. I am sure a few tears will be shed, but there will almost certainly be more laughs!
I doubt they know just how much they mean to us. I will surely miss them. Back row, front row, and everyone in the middle. Thank you for all your support, kindness, and love throughout the years. And know when it is cold and blustery next winter, and you need to get away, c’mon down and see us in Florida or Texas or California or where ever we might be!
Stay fit and happy!