ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
With her recent move to Hillsboro, Anna Woods hopes to be a resource for making physical fitness more accessible, attractive and affordable for the community.
And senior citizens are her specialty.
“I’ve kind of had my share of everything, but seniors are what I enjoy the most,” Woods said about her training and experience in the physical-fitness field.
“My philosophy on that is that they’re in it for the health benefits. Just getting their blood pressure down, or their cholesterol down or getting off a medication is a big deal to them.
“Even to be able to stand and wash their dishes completely without having to sit down-they get the most excited about the simplest things,” she added. “That’s what is appealing to me.
“I love to help people (of all ages) with weight loss and the other things, but seniors seem to respond the most. I just love seeing them feel good.”
At the invitation of Parkside Homes Inc., Woods is planning to launch three fitness classes later this month for seniors. The classes are open not only to male and female residents who live on the Park Village campus, but for “anybody in the community who feels they can benefit from this,” she said.
Each class covers a different aspect of fitness and health:
— Strength training. “We’re going to use a lot of basic resistance training and then work on range of motion, flexibility and mobility,” Woods said. “I want to make it chair-applicable for those who are in wheelchairs and those who would feel more comfortable sitting.”
— Functional fitness. “This class will help improve people’s ability to do daily tasks, which will focus on balance, coordination, fall prevention and also endurance-getting your lungs and your cardiovascular capacity to be able to vacuum your house or lift things over your head,” Woods said. “And we’ll talk about safety issues along with that.”
— Balance and stability. “I’m going to focus that one more like I did with post-rehab patients-make it more of a medical fitness,” said Woods, who worked part-time as a physical-rehabilitation aide while living in Oklahoma.
“I’m wanting to work with some of the doctors in town and the chiropractic clinic, and also some of the contracted physical therapists around here,” she added. “I hope to establish a working relationship with them to refer patients either to this class, or to me individually, after they’ve gone through their rehabilitation and want to further their recovery.”
Woods said she hopes to start the classes Jan. 22 in the congregate building on campus.
“They’re cleaning out one of the apartments and we’re going to make it a temporary wellness center until construction starts on another one (as part of Parkside’s development plan),” Woods said.
Each class will meet three times a week-perhaps two classes in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Woods said she also is willing to bring those classes to people’s homes for one-on-one attention.
“Some people feel more comfortable in the confines of their own home,” she said. “I have all the equipment to do that.”
Because some details about the classes are still being worked out, Woods encourages seniors to contact her if they want more information, including cost and scheduling. She can be reached by phone at 620-877-7503 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Woods said she realizes she’s breaking new ground in the Hillsboro community.
“This is kind of the experimental phase to see what kind of respond I get,” she said about the classes. “I have no idea how this community will respond. I don’t think there’s been this kind of availability before that I know of. I’m hoping we can create a new mindset, even.”
Woods said no one is too old to benefit from participating in a physical-fitness class.
“My philosophy is age is a state of mind,” she said. “I’ve seen seniors do incredible things after going through just a couple days of strength training and balance and stability (exercises),” she said.
“They’ll come back and go, ‘I was able to do a whole load of laundry today and I didn’t even have to sit down.’ They’re just so excited. That’s what inspires me to keep going.”
Physical fitness has been part of Woods’ life for as long as she can remember.
“I’ve been around exercise my whole life,” said the Buhler native. “My mom is a strength-and-condition coach and works at the Hutchinson Clinic in the physical therapy department.
“She told me I took my first steps in a gym, so it’s kind of been in me from the beginning.”
Active in a variety of sports throughout high school, Woods first attended to Pratt Community College to compete on the softball field. She went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in wellness promotions from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva.
Even before she received her degree, Woods became certified as a personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise.
She started her employment in the fitness field at the student wellness center on the NOSU campus, where she did “a lot of” weight-loss programs, health assessments and community weight-loss challenges, and led aerobics and water aerobics classes.
She also helped with preseason training programs at area high schools.
While at Pratt, she met and eventually married Jerad Woods. They have a 71⁄2-month-old daughter, Leah. After Jerad completed his training as an electrical power lineman through NOSU, the couple sent his resume to potential employers in eastern Oklahoma and central Kansas.
The family moved to Hillsboro after Jerad accepted a position with Flint Hills Rural Electric Cooperative.
“My family was really excited that we were moving here because they still live in Buhler,” Anna said. “We kind of like the small community. We did a lot of checking into the schools. We come from a conservative area, so that was appealing to us, too.”
So far, the Woods have no regrets about the move.
“We’re really enjoying it,” Anna said. “People have been really helpful and kind-the advantages of a small town.”
Woods plans to offer her physical-fitness expertise to people across the age spectrum, but she is excited about her focus on seniors. She wants to overcome the barriers she occasionally encounters among people in that age group.
“You always get, ‘I’m nervous about trying something new,'” she said. “There’s always a mind-block that keeps them from doing it. My goal is to help them realize they can do it-to just give it a try. They will see results if they commit to doing it.
“I’ve had several years of experience, so I know it works,” she added. “It’s not like I’m jumping into something where I think it’s going to happen. I’ve seen it work.”