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East County Thursday, Jun. 20, 2019 2 years ago

Sweatin' to the Oldies

Videos inspire women's exercise group to get fit and have fun.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor


In an era where many workouts consist of saddling up for a spin workout or hopping into a hip-hop dance class, a group of Lakewood Ranch ladies would rather be “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.”

When Linda Carroll, Louise Fisher and Valerie Kerwin get together to exercise, they like to go old-school: They let videos be their workout instructors.

Sure, they enjoy modern workout videos and instructors, such as Leslie Sanson or Gina Buber, but some of the best, they say, are the classics produced during the home-workout craze’s origins.

After all, where else can you find Jane Fonda leading the way in a leotard with colorful leg warmers or Richard Simmons, clad in his characteristic tank top and short shorts, encouraging you enthusiastically? In one Simmons video, an Elvis impersonator even makes an appearance on a motorcycle.

It’s silly, but the videos are fun and well-rounded from a fitness standpoint, the women said.

“It’s the perfect length,” Kerwin said of Simmons’ tapes. “What he does different is he doesn’t talk as much. He lets the music be the inspiration.”

Fisher aded: “The music is our era, too. It’s the music we all grew up with, and it makes it more fun.”

The women and more than a dozen others get together three times a week for low-impact exercise. Kerwin keeps the stash of videotapes and DVDs and brings a few to choose from for each of the meetings, which are held Mondays and Wednesdays at Town Hall North and Fridays at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall. Some videos are newer and some older, but each is low-impact and lasts between 30 minutes and one hour. The tapes vary in style, whether walking, dancing or something different altogether.

“I like the variety,” Fisher said.

Lately, the group has been doing “newer” tapes with plenty of walking. It’s still a good workout, but it’s not quite the same.

“We don’t get our heart rate up on the walking tapes like on the old ones,” Fisher said.

The old Kathy Smith video is a favorite, too.

“We loved it because it takes care of your whole body,” Carroll said. “The old Jane Fonda one does, too.”

On this Wednesday morning, they select “Dance that Walk” by Gina Buber. The women start with walking in place and then add a salsa dancing motion.

“I like her hairdo,” Carroll commented as the ladies followed Buber’s instructions.

Talking during workouts is part of the routine. The women chat about TV shows or movies, new restaurants or other topics.

“It’s a good way to keep in touch,” Carroll said.

In fact, it’s one of the reason Carroll likes the group so much, she said. She exercises two days a week with an instructor. It’s a good workout, but it cuts out all time for conversation and connecting with friends.

The women might talk while they exercise, but they take their workouts seriously.

Kerwin, Carroll and Fisher have exercised together for 18 years through the group, which started at Woodland Community Church in 2000 with two ladies and later grew to about eight, Carroll said.

The group moved locations recently for space concerns. 

Kerwin said she likes that there are no memberships required. The group pays for insurance, about $35 per member annually, but otherwise the workouts are  free to participate. 

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