Fitness instructor recognized for enthusiasm class for ages 65 and up

Lorrie Ward stated changing into a health coach by no means crossed her thoughts. Now, a yr after she started educating, Ward has a loyal following on the Madison Enchancment Membership in Phoenix.

The 62-year-old health coach is dedicated to creating a spot for individuals 65 and older to train with confidence. Ward was a finalist within the 2022 Teacher of the 12 months Awards from SilverSneakers, a nationwide health firm geared in direction of seniors who keep energetic.

Ward speaks in a energetic, enthusiastic method and expresses real concern for her college students. She says health has all the time been her ardour, even earlier than she turned a coach.

Ward stated she performed basketball in highschool and obtained a basketball scholarship to varsity, and he or she additionally used to play softball. However past that, she stated she additionally taught her children how one can play completely different sports activities and was all the time exercising indirectly.

“I come from a household of eight kids, 5 boys. I used to be the sixth competitor to make the groups even greater,” Ward stated. “I assume you can say I am a tomboy.”

Ward’s greatest buddy and former SilverSneakers proprietor, Mary Swanson, 67, was the one who pushed her into educating her first grade. Swanson opened her personal health middle, The Madison Enchancment Membership, after promoting her enterprise, and in 2021 she insisted Ward educate a SilverSneakers associate class.

“She’s the wind beneath my wings,” Swanson stated. “…I simply inspired her to try to she was only a pure.”

Ward labored at SilverSneakers for 15 years, the place she labored on community improvement and finally served as director of operations, however she says changing into an teacher by no means crossed her thoughts. Now, a yr after she began educating, Ward has a loyal following at The Madison, together with Swanson.

Ward teaches a power circuit class at The Madison’s Phoenix location on the SilverSneakers partnership each Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 am. She says round 15 to 25 individuals attend the category, relying on the time of yr.

Ward says her group acquired to date that even her grandchildren struggled to maintain up after they participated.

“I’ve a robust group of those that I problem and so they’re completely receptive and wonderful at something,” Ward stated. “So we’re pondering slightly bit outdoors the field right here, (extra) than your regular SilverSneakers class.”

The category focuses on chair-based workouts with weights and resistance bands, however Ward proudly stated her group does issues slightly otherwise.

“You may discover different SilverSneakers programs which can be strictly chair-based,” Ward stated. “We keep away from the chair as a lot as attainable.”

When requested why she thought this specific group had come this far, she gave credit score to every member.

“They did all of the work. I am simply their coach,” Ward stated. “I am simply there to play some music and inform just a few jokes and make them giggle.”

Whereas Ward boasted about her group, her classmates additionally held her in excessive esteem.

Nancy White, 68, started attending the course shortly after Ward started educating. Since then, White stated, she solely misses it when she’s on trip, even after knee surgical procedure. The proceedings put White on hiatus for about two weeks, after which she was again at it.

“Lorrie makes us all really feel like we’re at our greatest,” White stated. “It is a pleasure to stroll via the door.”

Swanson stated she tracks what her members are doing of their lives, whether or not they’re leaving city or going to a dentist appointment. She even wrote them private playing cards.

“It is identical to she adopted all these grandparents,” Swanson stated.

White stated she may inform Ward cared about her and the opposite contributors within the class as a result of she would discover small victories, like choosing up an additional pound or two. White stated she and Swanson have now labored their means as much as 20-pound weights.

She stated the category made it simpler to get to the fitness center, which she says is tough at her age, and that she’s seen actual outcomes.

Total, nevertheless, it’s the neighborhood facet – the “range of individuals and their ages and their enthusiasm” – that has all the time introduced White again.

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Whereas the 2022 award went to Jen Burgmeier, an educator who owns her personal studio in Pennsylvania, Ward was one of many high 5 finalists out of lots of of nominees, in keeping with Debbie Johnson, senior public relations supervisor at Tivity Well being, guardian firm of Silver Sneakers.

Ward says she was so stunned to be a finalist that she did not consider the decision from Johnson, which she thought was a nasty joke because it got here on April Idiot’s Day.

“It shocked me to know that I’ve solely been doing this for lower than a yr and have a lot help from my members,” Ward stated. “It was completely unbelievable.”

She joked that she hopes her members do not mistake her for anybody else, however that her group actually is like household to them.

“I really like the older inhabitants, I really like train and it is simply such a protected and rewarding place,” Ward stated.

The best way Swanson and White described Ward’s educating type as a non-judgmental area stuffed with laughter, encouragement and good music. This type makes it clear that there was no mix-up – Ward’s members appear to genuinely recognize her distinctive method and greater than something her look after each one who attends her class.

“It is a terrific neighborhood with Laurie on the helm, and it is simply enjoyable,” White stated. “She is aware of everybody. She encourages everybody. She’s comfortable to see us all. It is great to stroll via the doorways right here at Madison.”

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Attain Breaking Information reporter Sam Burdette at or on Twitter @SuperSafetySam

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