by HANNAH BROADBENT
Every Monday and Wednesday morning at the Watertown Mayer Primary school there are 20 to 30 women starting their day with exercise. They are stretching, weightlifting, doing yoga and leg exercises.
The elementary school gym is lined with wodden motivational signs painted bright yellow. They serve as reminders of how to have a good workout. They read, “back kept straight”, “belly pulled in”, “breathe properly” and “brain engaged”.
Kathy Reeves started the group about eight years ago. She had heard about bone builders which is a class offered through the Volunteers of America. She took the training to become a teacher.
“I thought a good way to volunteer was to start an exercise program,” Reeves said. “I like to give back to Watertown.”
She said Carver County Public Health donated the weights for the class, she said if that wasn’t the case than this class might be inaccessible for them because they would have to provide their own. Reeves said accessibility is the best part of this class. It’s offered through community education, and it’s free. She said that a lot of people don’t want to spend the money for classes like this and health clubs can be intimidating to people.
Reeves believes that one reason this class works so well is the group dynamic. She said working out with others is motivating.
“In a group it’s more fun, you inspire each other,” she said.
The women in the class would agree. They say it’s one reason they come regularly.
Louis Hoeselois has been attending for a year and a half. She started going because a neighbor recommended it. Hoeslois has osteoporosis, she said she really has noticed a difference in her physical health and feels better after each class. Though one of her favorite aspects is the socialization she gets by attending.
“It’s a great way to bring the community together,” she said.
Hoeselouis teaches the class on occasion now also, along with Diane Hoppke, Sharon Weinzerl and Peggy Hempel. These women teach on Wednesdays when Reeves does not. Reeves decided she couldn’t teach the class twice a week anymore. She said it’s because of these women that the class continues to go strong.
This is the first summer that the class is a part of community education, but that hasn’t stopped the class from running year-round. The last few years the ladies were meeting at city hall, they said even if the class was to stop being offered completely they would still do it anyway and go back to city hall.
“We did it because people wanted it,” Hempel said.
Reeves said a lot of people are inspired by the class and Rachel Bender and Janine Knutson with community ed. can see that. Reeves said they bend over backwards to keep things going.
“They see that they need classes for all ages,” Reeves said.
Hoppke said she joined the class because she knew she needed to get active. Now she has been attending for over two years.
“My stamina has gotten better,” she said, “I knew I needed to exercise and doing it with other people makes a world of difference.”
Hempel said the class focuses on breathing, balancing and strength. Though the women agree it is just as powerful for their mental health as well.
Hempel said she teaches the macarena for brain power, Reeves does “the twist” in her class.
Reeves said her favorite part is seeing women come back, and that’s how you know it’s working for them. She said the goal is to work hard and have fun. Reeves credited the women for working hard, and community education for working with the class.
“It’s the word ‘community’, it brings people together,” she said.