Never Too Late

Four Decades of Fit Older Folk

By Alice Schenk

I teach a free fitness class for the College of Southern Idaho in the small town of Rupert. We meet three days a week in the Civic Gym attached to City Hall.

The gym was built in 1938 and some of my students have been around long enough to recall climbing a rope that once hung from a beam. My class, called “Over 60 & Getting Fit,” draws anywhere from forty-five to sixty senior citizens. I tell them age is a number and mine is unlisted, although they all know I officially joined their ranks last November. We meet three days a week to work out. I like to sprinkle lots of fun into the mix, because in addition to burning calories, decreasing stress, reducing depression, and sleeping better, exercise increases endorphins: feel-good chemicals that also are released during laughter.

I use a microphone headset that stopped working during one recent class—and then started again, then stopped, started, stopped, and finally just would not work. The next time I held a class, it fired right up and worked fine. One of my students said, “It must have a word limit.” The class laughed but I thought, wait, surely I don’t talk that much? These senior citizens are tarp as a shack.

We’re more than a fitness class: we run a bit, walk a lot, and dance a little—only we don’t call it dance, it’s “intensified activity” or “modified aerobic movement.” Our goal is functional fitness, with an aim to age gratefully and gracefully. I believe we cannot be “anti-aging,” since that would mean we were against living.

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Alice Schenk

About Alice Schenk

Alice Schenk is an adventurer who lives in Rupert. A lover of hiking, shed hunting, swimming, biking, and running, she has finished six Ironman contests, many marathons, and twice has climbed all nine peaks above twelve thousand feet in Idaho. Alice holds a Master’s degree in health and teaches at the College of Southern Idaho in Burley.

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