A fan of fitness since her 20s, Skirboll finds new ways to stay moving.
Editor's note: This story went to press prior to the death of Bunny Skirboll's husband, Mort.
For Longboat Key resident Bunny Skirboll, fitness has nearly always been part of her daily routine. She’s not quite a fanatic who has a need to pump iron every day and make a big deal out of her routine. For her, fitness is more like breakfast or getting dressed — just part of getting through life.
“People would always say, ‘How do you have time to do this?’ and I said, ‘You just put it down as part of your schedule,’” Skirboll said. “I just put it into my schedule. I always felt that it was something that I did.”
For Skirboll, the desire to stay healthy through movement came when she was in her 20s, shortly after her father died of a coronary attack.
“It just scared me because he was well one day, and the next day he was gone,” Skirboll said. “It made me feel that maybe I was vulnerable.”
That’s when she started working out. She hasn’t really stopped since and tries to incorporate a variety of modes of movement into her routines. In the past she would jog and do strength training classes, whatever fit into her schedule when she was still working. Her knees began bothering her as she aged, which led her to lean more on classes to keep herself fit.
“It just makes you feel good when you're done,” Skirboll said. “Even if it's a strenuous class, I think, ‘Oh, God, why am I doing this?’ but when I get done, I feel like, ‘Oh, my God, look what I accomplished!’ So you have a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.”
Now that she’s retired, she keeps up with fitness classes five times a week and incorporates Zumba, Pilates and aerobics into her routine.
“I like classes for the structure,” Skirboll said. “I don’t have to think because someone is telling me what to do.”
When she moved down to Longboat Key, her friend (whom Skirboll met while working out at a gym in Rochester, N.Y.) recommended that she join the Longboat Key Club for its wide range of classes.
“She said, ‘You’ll feel like you’ve just been transplanted [from Rochester],’ and that’s what happened,” Skirboll recalled. “I immediately signed up for the classes here.”
Skirboll appreciates that many trainers will offer options B or C or will take note of potential injuries that might be exacerbated by the movement, so that classes become more accessible to all and people don’t feel overwhelmed at the start.
As for folks looking to start an exercise routine, the matter-of-fact approach to working out that Skirboll adopts might be a good way to establish a routine. Motivation doesn’t last, but routines do. Skirboll is adamant that anyone can begin a fitness routine and that you just have to consider it as part of your daily schedule. If you treat working out as something essential, you’ll make time for it.
“It’s certainly easier when you don’t have to work, but even in the years I worked full time, I just did it,” Skirboll said, citing the numerous 6 p.m. fitness classes she went to over the course of her career. “It’s going to help you get energized and get focused.”
Now as the coronavirus spread shutters gyms including the Longboat Key Club, Skirboll has had to stay away from group fitness classes. She’s not taking a break, however, instead turning to the internet to get her fix. She said she has been amazed at the wealth of options available and has been trying to slot in online workouts at the same time she would be attending an in-person class, to keep her routine intact.
“I can walk — which I’ve been doing, and I think everyone’s been doing on a daily basis — but it got boring after a while,” Skirboll said. “I wasn’t getting the same kind of stimulation and endorphin boost, so I ended up going online. All you do is turn on your computer and get to it.”
With the bevy of options available for online training, Skirboll has been able to keep her routine pretty intact with many of the same types of classes she would normally do in a group.
“I miss it,” Skirboll said. “I just hope this is over soon, for a lot of reasons, and then we can get back to our normal life and doing the things that give us pleasure.”