January 8, 2013

Our Neighbors: Staying faithful to exercise habits

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — It’s the most common New Year’s resolution made in America — to eat healthy and exercise regularly.

But, knowing where to start can be tough.

With all the news coverage of adult and child obesity, Sheila Wittenback, aerobics class instructor, suggests a regiment of exercise or at least taking a brisk walk daily.

For Wittenback, fitness has been a part of her life for more than three decades and it did not begin as a resolution.

In the early 80s Wittenback started classes with four or five others in the basement of one of the women’s homes.

Later, she moved to Storm Security with instructor Francis McClure.

“About 1983 when my daughter, Kacy, was just a baby, I would take her, in her pajamas, along with a blanket, lay her in a corner and exercise,” she said. “That is when I really started and I have stuck with it.”

From Storm Security, Wittenback moved with the class and McClure to the Firming Company.

While at the Firming Company, in the absence of McClure, she or fellow exerciser Connie Jo York would fill in.

“This is went we got certified with the American Council on Exercise,” she added. “And when Connie Jo went out on her own, I followed her.”

A building was constructed on Bowman Road, off East Fourth Street, that would become the home for York’s business.

York asked Sheila’s husband, Bobby, to draw a map of directions to the building.

“Bobby didn’t know what the name of the business would be so he marked it ‘The Aerobic Spot’ and the name just stuck,” Witten-back said.

By the time The Aerobic Spot was built, York and Wittenback knew what type of environment was important to their participants. They wanted everyone to realize The Aerobic Spot would be a great place to exercise — it would be comfortable, safe, private, non-intimidating and very affordable. Their clients would receive professional instructions, group support, and motivation.

“We didn’t use weights, we did a lot of jogging in place and dance exercises to music,” Wittenback said.

She has participated or taught classes from “feel the burn” days of high impact, through the step aerobics, kickboxing and pilates, and into the Zumba craze.

“With step aerobics, we improvised. We used ammo boxes because there was no where to get the aerobic steps.”

“This type of exercise was a big thing years ago but most people now are walking and exercising at gyms,” she added. “Many young people go with their friends to gyms where there is more action and they can match their workout to music.”

But, The Aerobic Spot has its faithful customers. Some like Tama Heuser have been with York and Wittenback since the Storm Security days.

“Some come after making New Year’s resolutions. They have good intentions but usually drop out.

“I always encourage people if they don’t like the hard-core exercise, walk at least 30 minutes a day. That should be their goal for the new year,” Wittenback said.

She teaches an hour-and-a-half class three times a week and said she loves doing it but there are some days she would probably not go if she didn’t have to teach.

“But, it keeps me in shape with a good sense of well-being and I have more energy. You think you are dead tried but when I get home, I have so much more energy.”

Wittenback’s New Year’s resolution is — “I’m going to try to walk every day at least a couple miles and keep doing it as long as I’m up-right.”

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
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