CARL E. FEATHER / Star Beacon ROSILYN PARKER works out at the Curves on West Prospect, Ashtabula, a five-day-a-week appointment she keeps with her sister. The 74-year-old has enjoyed increased mobility and energy since beginning the program six months ago. Nancy O�eill works out in the background.

ASHTABULA — When Rosilyn Parker first indicated she wanted to join Curves for Women and do the 30-minute workout circuit, trainer Sara Wetzel assumed she would need to make modifications to the equipment and regimen to accommodate Parker.

After all, the 74-year-old Plymouth Township resident had suffered mobility problems since the mid-1980s, when nerve damage brought on by diabetes paralyzed her from the armpits down. After a year of therapy, Parker’s mobility returned to the point she could walk with a cane, but complications from the disease continued to drag down her mobility and range of activities.

“If I got down, I’d have to crawl over to a chair or the stairs to get back up,” says Parker, who relies upon a walker to get around her house.

Parker’s sister, Carol Reinhart, moved in with her to look after Parker after she was widowed nearly a decade ago. After Reinhart retired 18 months ago, she started bringing her sister with her to the West Prospect Curves location. Parker would sit in the waiting area and watch as her sister went through the course, and Wetzel would occasionally encourage Parker to give it a try.

“She laughed at me every time when I asked her when she was going to get out there,” Wetzel says.

Reinhart also encouraged her sister to join Curves and get moving.

“I wanted her to do something because I could tell that her legs were getting weaker,” says Reinhart. “She had to hold onto something all the time.”

Parker accepted the challenge after she learned that she could join and maintain a membership for free because she has AARP Supplemental Insurance. The Silver Sneakers program takes care of the $149 service fee and $34 monthly fee. All Parker had to supply were the sneakers and determination.

That was six months ago, and although she’s still using a walker to get between machines in the workout circuit, Parker has mastered every one of the devices, including the very challenging “Dip Shrup” that Wetzel was certain she’d have to modify or eliminate for Parker’s regimen.

“When she first started, she needed a little bit of help to get on and off the equipment,” Wetzel says. “Now, she doesn’t need it.”

Parker does the circuit five days a week. In addition, she participates in the walking aerobics program at East Side Presbyterian Church three times a week. She says the exercise programs have made helped her drop about 10 inches from the cumulative measurement figure for her body, boosted her energy level and improved her mobility.

“She seems to have more energy,” Reinhart says. “It got to the place where she would just sit and listen to books on tape. ... She feels better about herself, walks by herself now. We keep each other motivated.”

That experience is echoed among the other ladies who exercise with Reinhart and Parker. Shirley Johnson, 79, works 21⁄2 days a week and looks forward to coming to Curves to relax after work.

“I really need it after working eight hours in front of a computer,” says Johnson.

She’s had four hip replacements, three knee replacements and multiple spine surgeries that required extensive physical therapy. Johnson says the best therapy she’s found is spending 30 minutes at Curves.

“And this is less expensive than physical therapy,” she says.

Nancy O’Neill, a registered nurse who’s been retired about eight years, suffers from arthritis and asthma, but she says her Curves workout helps her keep those problems in check.

“I could not bend or stoop; I could hardly move,” she says, describing her condition prior to joining Curves. “Since I’ve been coming here, I move much better.”

It’s also refreshing mentally.

“The ladies come out of here, and it’s like the weight of the world is off their shoulders,” Wetzel says.

Joyce Kirkpatrick of Wintersville says she feels like something is wrong with her day if it doesn’t include her 30 minutes at Curves. That’s why she drives 35 miles round trip from Evergreen Campground in Conneaut to work out at the West Prospect Curves.

“Every day, even after being out on the lake fishing for walleye,” she says.

Wetzel says once the workout habit is established, the body actually craves the experience. And the camaraderie of women working on a singular goal in a fun atmosphere is likewise something the participants miss.

“We are all here for the same reason: to be healthier,” Wetzel says. “Fitness and weight loss are the byproducts of that.”

The challenge is to get women to take that first step.

“The hardest part about Curves is walking through the door the first time,” Wetzel says. “Rosilyn had the advantage because she’d already been in with her sister.”

Wetzel says women who are concerned about the price ought to check with their health insurance provider and see if there is a wellness provision that will pay for a portion or all of the fees. In addition, during October, Curves will waive the service fee if the applicant brings in proof of a recent mammogram.

Membership is not limited to just one location: Wetzel says a pass can be issued that will allow the traveling member to workout wherever business, pleasure travel or the seasons take them. O’Neill, who will be heading to California in a couple of months, is looking forward to continuing her workout there. She says it’s an essential part of enjoying retirement.

“I tried stopping, and it just doesn’t work,” O’Neill says. “If you want to stay young, you have keep moving. Even if you don’t want to move, you have to do it, or you will end up in a wheelchair.”

Trending Video

Recommended for you