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Originally Published: Apr 17, 2019

Grace Connor

Born in 1927, 91-year-old Grace Connor, as the Farmers Insurance ad says, “has seen a thing or two.” Her early years allowed her to experience life in simpler times as a young girl growing up with seven siblings in Georgia. Work years allowed her to experience the diversity of cultures from Europe to Africa. But as she has settled into her retirement years, this always gracious and witty lady has definite ideas about exercise.

Most of her life her favorite forms of exercise have been walking and hiking. She used to love hiking in the woods. As a tall high school senior, she finally decided to go out for the basketball team. Her coach observed her height and skills and exclaimed, “WHERE have you been?! Don’t you know you could have been on this team since eighth grade?” 

Grace smiles at the memory.

Some years later, Grace’s older sister introduced her to water exercise. When she first joined acac in 2012 at age 86, she tried some of the more aerobic water classes. But Aqua Zen is clearly her preference now.  “Exercise in the water classes works your muscles. I enjoy coming to acac and meeting people with similar interests. I enjoy the familiar faces in the Aqua Zen classes. It can be a very welcoming place.  I really appreciate Theresa’s advice: Listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t do it!

As to what keeps her motivated to keep exercising and coming to acac? “Exercise is very important. As you get older, you get weaker. You want to be able to get out of your chair, especially if you have osteoporosis, which I do. I walk as much as I can—the grocery store, Costco, the mall. You also have to pay attention to the ABC+F.  A-Alignment, B— Balance & Breathing, C— Control + F—Flexibility.”

Grace eats healthy but gets frustrated by the increasing prices of vegetables like cabbage. She is annoyed about celery that goes bad too quickly. She has a fondness for healthy fruit/vegetable shakes.

When asked how her family has contributed to her long life, she beams. “When you have a niece who says, ‘I’ll see you have independent living as long as possible.’”

After enjoying her company, one only hopes that when those of us younger than Grace reach our 90’s, we are as young in mind, spirit, and devotion to exercise as is she. She shows us that it’s never too late to start exercising.

Colleen Ausherman

Colleen has been an acac member since 2016, when, at age 87, she moved from Annapolis to live with her daughter in Midlothian. Small and petite, she credits exercise and determination for helping her overcome a weight problem as a youngster.

“I was the last chosen for dodgeball. I tried to be invisible as a child.” She discovered a love of walking in her late teens and stuck to a routine which gradually took off the weight. Despite the weather, rain or snow, Colleen rarely missed her walks.

Married and living in Annapolis, Md., she discovered water exercise at an aquatics center and at a spa in the Annapolis Mall, — also walking in the mall with good friends when the weather got too bad.

She laughs, remembering the exercise costumes a good friend would design for them to wear for Halloween. Laughter, congeniality, and exercise— a good combination, which by all appearances, has suited the lovely Colleen quite well. Rosie, her miniature poodle also contributes to her good nature.

Colleen is also an artist. She has created stained glass pieces for many years, including original lamps as wedding presents for both her daughters.  Her current interest is learning how to cast jewelry in classes at the Visual Arts Center.

“I still walk, but a bad hip doesn’t like distances like it used to. I enjoy Aqua Zen; the fellowship and seeing friends. acac is the nicest gym I have ever been to.”

Thank you, Colleen…we accept your compliment and wish you continued good exercise.

Many thanks go to Martha Richardson, acac member, for interviewing and compiling Grace’s and Colleen’s stories.

If you’re looking for a way to get started exercising or get started back, acac can help.  Learn more about our Physician Referred Exercise Program.