Ramona women’s exercise group builds strength and friendships
By Tony Cagala
The Body and Soul Fitness program, designed as a way to exercise in a positive and uplifting setting, not only helps to develop your body, but friendships, too, say attendees.
The classes are led by Karen Gantzer, a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise, who has been a Body and Soul instructor for 13 years. In Ramona, Gantzer and her assistant instructor, Ann Weatherstone, offer strength, flexibility and cardio-strength classes at Grace Community Church.
“We are able to offer classes for women of all athletic levels,” Gantzer said. “Whether they’re just newbies, whether they are seniors, teenagers, we have programming that encompasses all age groups and fitness levels. It’s not your mother’s aerobic class. It can challenge the most hardcore athlete and it can also challenge the women who are real trepid in even coming in.”
It takes a few weeks to get into the routine, said Kathy Dennis, who has been in the program for four years. At the beginning of each session, nobody knows what they’re doing, she added.
During her time in the program, Dennis has noticed an increase in her stamina. She started with a low-impact exercise and over the years constantly increased her regiment, really pushing herself.
“I feel better,” Dennis said. “I feel more awake. I feel like I have the energy to get through my day — I do enjoy my coffee — but without a big crutch.”
The exercises teach what Gantzer calls “functional conditioning” because it benefits the whole body and helps a person to get through the entire day. And the atmosphere is one of encouragement. The instructors don’t yell, but they do cheer you on.
Apart from the physical health benefits, the time spent with other women also helps to forge connections and develop lasting relationships that benefit mental health, said Weatherstone. The friendships gained through the class are really unique because of the diverse age ranges, she said.
“You really gain a lot of insight from the senior citizens and a lot of energy from the younger ones,” she said.
“It is a time for women to connect with one another and that is so huge, because sometimes the classes are the only time that they’re able to connect with other women,” Gantzer said. “And so to be able to exercise and have fun and laugh and be challenged at the same time that you are connecting and building new relationships and friendships is a huge thing.”
The goal of the program is to increase overall fitness, Weatherstone said.
“Being fit does not necessarily mean that you’re going to lose weight. It’s more of having the ability to function in your everyday life healthfully.”
The group offers one free class. Child care is available, but it has to be arranged ahead of time for a fee by contacting Gantzer at Karen@fit2core.com.
Cardio-strength classes meet Mondays and Thursdays from 5:10 to 6:30 p.m., and strength and flexibility classes meet Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Spring sessions began April 11, but woman may enroll at any time. More information is at www.bodyandsoul.org.
Grace Community Church is at 1234 Barger Place.
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