Never Too Late to Start
Kerry Engle’s fitness beginnings came about while searching for a change in her life. Studying and working as a paralegal, she assumed that would be her future. As it so often happens in life, not everything plays out in the way we originally planned. In Kerry’s case, a change was a good thing. She never had imagined herself as the person leading a high energy fitness class packed with participants but, as it turns out, fitness and teaching were something she was almost born to be a part of. After a difficult move from Florida to the Capital District, Kerry took to her new surroundings in search of a part time job. She found one working at the front desk of a popular area gym along Central Avenue in Albany. It was here she began to discover her true passion for the fitness industry. Making friends with one of the personal trainers at her new job, she began to explore a new role. Her friend convinced her to read the information found in a national certification book put out by the American Council on Exercise. Soon after, Kerry found herself taking an exam in New York City to become a certified personal trainer. Upon passing the exam, she began to shadow other personal trainers and work towards building a clientele base. While expanding her new found business, she continued her education and became certified under the Aquatic Exercises Association and in group exercise. For Kerry, every day began to unfold into a different experience and a chance to learn more.
Give a Little Gain a Lot
In her past, Kerry cites her experience volunteering at the Daughters of Sarah Senior Community. It was here, her admiration and respect for older adults grew. This would later spill into her passion for fitness as she began to focus her training and teaching skills on fitness for older adults. Becoming involved in the Silver Sneakers program, Kerry received many certifications on the classes offered. Kerry started training participates three times a week at Beverwyck and ultimately began teaching classes there. She recalls one women in particular, whom she trained for 12 years, beginning at the age of 80 years old. Proving that even at 80, it’s never too late to make a small change for your health. From here, Kerry pursued a larger role in adult fitness and four years ago, she began working at Shaker Pointe as the Fitness Director. When asked about her transition into fitness for older adults and the role that regular fitness plays, Kerry had a lot of facts to share. She mentioned that the American Heart Association states that an inactive person loses 3-5% of their muscle fiber each decade after turning 30. It’s possible that inactive adults can have a 30% loss in muscle tissue by age 60. On the flip side, a small increase in fitness level can have a dramatic impact. By adding just 3 pounds of muscle tissue, an adult can increase their resting metabolic rate by 7% and reduce their caloric intake by 15%. Kerry talked about aging as a whole noting that, as we get older and retire, our normal activity levels decrease. This is when weight gain and other problems tend to arise. Kerry shared, “Keeping an individual as independent, for as long as possible, that’s always my goal.” For Kerry, her goal is personal, having watched her father spend time in a nursing home. She continued by stating the benefits of regular fitness and the positive effects it has on cognition, the psychological effects of aging and increased socialization. Keeping fit also reduces the risk of certain cancers, depression, stroke, and heart disease.
One Step at a Time
Beginning her fourth year with the Shaker Pointe community, Kerry reflects on how far we’ve all come. When asked what Kerry finds rewarding as the Fitness Director she stated, “Just the smile on their face: I think we are put on this earth for one reason-If I can make someone’s day just a drop better, I’ve done my job.” The reward is what we all bear witness to at Shaker Pointe. When a new resident first moves in, and the chaos of moving slows, a change starts to happen. Gone are the limitations of one’s own house, because here, at Shaker Pointe, there is access to an entire community. The walk to pick up the morning paper includes a jaunt through the Great Room, past neighbors, to the receptionist. Over time, new residents find more and more reasons to take a walk around. The increase in mobility not only strengthens the mind, but also the body. Kerry references one resident in telling, ” Liz started attending fitness classes at Shaker Pointe and becoming a lot more involved.” Kerry continues, “Before coming to Shaker Pointe, this resident couldn’t make it up her daughters stairs, and now she can.”
Kerry started at Shaker Pointe when the community was just a row of cottage homes and fitness classes were offered a few times a week in the Friends Meeting House. The classes back then were held in one room of what now has become another cottage in the community. Today in our new fitness facility, Shaker Pointe offers 18 classes, a pool, work-out center, and aerobics studio. Kerry states. “I just couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out, it’s incredible, this space is beautiful!” Kerry hopes to add a few more challenging classes to the roster this year. She wants to focus on building stronger posture among the participants reiterating that, “Seniors getting better every day, that is the goal!” Today, Kerry teaches Sit to be Fit on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and Cardio Aerobics on Wednesdays. Her enthusiasm and dedication to teaching is hard to miss. You can hear it in every class she teaches and see it with everyone she trains-always a smile and a zest for the next step.