(Posted May 18, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Like clockwork, Cynthia Parsons shows up at the West Jefferson First Baptist Church gym four mornings a week to work out–and she loves it.
“It’s wonderful for me because I have MS (multiple sclerosis), and it gets me up and out of the house and with friends. And we have a great time!” said Parsons.
She and about a dozen others are regulars at a 9 a.m. circuit workout where, for an hour, they make their way through 12 fitness machines that target different muscle groups. Between machines, they dance, hoola-hoop, do jumping jacks–all sorts of movement to get their heart rates going. All the while, 50s music pulses in the background.
“Pat is a hoot. You never know what she is going to say, and we all have to laugh. Laughter is the best medicine,” Parsons said.
Pat Fenton, 79, has been co-leading the workouts from the beginning, which was about 10 years ago when a local circuit workout business donated its equipment to the church. Ever since, the church has welcomed anyone, whether they are members of the church or not, to do their bodies good–and all at no charge.
“Everybody’s like a family down there. It’s awesome. We’ve got some crazies, and that includes me! We have a lot of fun,” said Fenton, who has spinal stenosis and credits the workouts, along with her penchant for golf and line dancing, for keeping her in shape.
And staying in shape is key as one ages, said longtime participant Mabel Hawkins, who carpools to the workouts with two friends and her husband from their homes in Hilliard.
“When you get older, you lose muscle. If you don’t walk or workout, you lose muscle tone fast,” she said. “The machines help every part of your body. I’m 80 now, and in the time I’ve been going, I’ve had knee and hip replacements. This keeps everything moving.”
Hawkins is a former West Jefferson resident who got to know Fenton 50 years ago when they worked together.
“When Patty started this up, she told me about it. I’ve been coming from the start,” she said. “It’s a good atmosphere. You communicate and enjoy things with everybody. We pray beforehand. It’s good fellowship and good friendship.”
The workouts are open to men and women of all ages and abilities. Participants can do as much or as little of the workouts as they like and can modify the exercises to suit their abilities.
“Anyone can come and workout. Age doesn’t matter. Disability doesn’t matter either. Just come and enjoy,” said Fenton, who co-leads the group with fellow West Jefferson resident and church member Joyce Flowers.
West Jefferson First Baptist Church is located at 686 West Jefferson Kiousville Rd. SE, across from West Jefferson High School and Middle School. The workout group meets from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Anyone interested in attending can call Pat Fenton for details, (614) 599-1072.