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Longboat Key Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010 11 years ago

Feinstein embodies 'aerobic grandma' title


It is always rewarding to hear from someone who has read this column. Last month, I had written about discovering a fitness modality called TRX and wanted to learn more about it. That caught the eye of a TRX fan, who invited me to try it by working out with her. And that is how I came to meet Wendy Feinstein and spend a challenging hour with her, a trainer and the TRX apparatus.

Feinstein is that rara avis who works out not because she knows it is good for her but because she loves it. She has the genes for it. Her dad was a professional athlete who played for the Cleveland Indians. Her mom took up ballroom dancing (with her five-years-older boyfriend) when she was in her 80s. She was in such good condition that she not only survived a bout of Legionnaire’s disease at age 88, but she fully recovered — a pretty remarkable feat.

Feinstein was a cheerleader and a swimmer in high school. At age 28, as a young mom with two small children, she was attracted by a then-new program, Jackie Sorenson’s aerobic dancing. She was one of the first five instructors to be certified in that discipline and went on to become a trainer for other aerobics teachers.

“I was into fitness when it was not fashionable,” she says. “I was teaching aerobics when nobody knew what it was, and I have been exercising intensely ever since — for 32 years.”

You might expect Feinstein to be a sports participant, but that is not the case.

“I don’t compete with anybody except myself,” she says. “I don’t need to be better than anyone except myself the last time I did something.”

Feinstein and her husband, Jerry, spend their time in three places — Aspen, Colo., Orlando and Longboat Key. When she’s here, she works out at the Frank G. Berlin YMCA because she likes the energy in the gym and its menu of classes.

About 12 years ago, her husband asked her what she wanted for Hanukkah and she asked for a personal trainer. She calls it “the gift that keeps on giving,” because, in Colorado, she has not one but two trainers (with different specialties). And the trainers got together to create a special gift for Feinstein’s 60th birthday March 4. It was a tag-team training session that lasted for an hour and 15 minutes. Her family teased her that she was the only one who would consider a hard workout a great gift, and they were right — she loved it.

Feinstein’s other passions include bike riding and skiing. She also loves to hike and does two or three really big hikes each summer in Aspen, which she calls “the jock capital of the world.” She recently climbed the fifth-highest mountain in Colorado, La Plata Peak, which is 14,367 feet. She shares a lot of activities with her husband, including skiing, biking and workouts in the gym. Their blended family includes her two kids, his three kids and eight grandchildren, with a ninth on the way.

And Feinstein’s genetic heritage continues. Both her children have done Ironman triathlons; her daughter is married to a former pro football player, and her son’s wife is also a triathlete.

Feinstein’s love of exercise is obvious in her appearance. At 5 feet, 6 inches tall, she weighs about 128 pounds and has a body-fat percentage of 19%, which is in the athletic category.

Now, about our shared workout. Leave it to Feinstein to know a TRX specialist: personal trainer Daemian Mains, who recently opened Definition Fit in the Rosemary District ( with co-owner Katie Waters, personal trainers Tom Johnson (also a TRX expert) and Charlie Gibson and yogi Robyn Marin. The studio offers an intriguing variety of classes as well as personal training. Feinstein and I did an hour-long duet on the TRX suspension straps with Mains. You can do TRX in a class or with a trainer, and I would suggest the latter for someone just starting out. I found it challenging, different and fun. If you try it, let me know what you think.

If You Go
Definition Fit

Where: 525 Lemon Ave., Sarasota
What: Kickboxing, yoga, TRX suspension-straps training and personal-training sessions are offered daily.
Information: Call 961-3271 or visit

Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer, with a specialty in older adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training and a Power Pilates(tm) Mat Certification. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center. E-mail her at [email protected].


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