Motivated to move
Fenn inspires all ages to exercise
By Margaret Richman
Margaret Richman photos
Pat Fenn’s primary career is being a social worker for Calumet County, but this college degreed physical education teacher also has been teaching water aerobics for Fox Valley Technical College for decades. She encourages people of all ages to make use of whatever time they have in their days to exercise.

Some gave up exercising years earlier favoring a mindset overloaded with countless excuses. No time. No energy left after a long day. I can’t possibly get out of bed any earlier. My knee hurts. I’m too out of shape at this point.

Others self-pledge that annual or semiannual ritual of exercise routine with a quick burst only to see it swiftly fade away.

Why does someone finally act upon initiating an exercise regime? Are they inspired by a recent physician visit, perhaps a medical crisis that required a slap of reality? Maybe they heard the positive news of a neighbor who started to move or did they watch a reality television show depicting major transformations from year-long exercise commitment?

Getting starting but more importantly remaining motivated is crucial to transforming oneself into an exerciser that makes a lifelong vow toward self-improvement. Pat Fenn, Fox Valley Technical College tri-decade water exercise instructor and 60-year-old self-motivated independent exerciser can speak to the motivational forcers for both individual and group exercise initiatives.

Extra tricks in her bag

A Calumet County social worker by career, Fenn has worked with intellectually delayed children and adults and as a water aerobics instructor on the side. Professional training on motivating individuals often resistant to change has provided her with, as she states, “extra tricks in my bag” that have carried over to her class in the Chilton pool of up to 36 devoted followers. On her own, she maintains an exercise routine at an area club. The combination of motivating others to move while maintaining her own gym perseverance at age 60 provides a glimpse into what others can gain from her experience.

“Motivation is not an easy thing. People need to want to change and make that choice. It is never too late to start to exercise but if one always says ‘tomorrow’ then it is oops,” Fenn said.

“People are complicated beings and exercise can be broken down. Why not do toothbrush exercises,” questions Fenn as she demonstrates leg lifts and squats while brushing teeth. “Find those little moments when starting out. Ten minutes of something is better than no minutes of nothing.”

Creativity from customary routines is encouraged. “Why not exercise while still in bed? Sophia Loren begins each Exercise in water provides additional benefits. “I like to say that I am providing you a one hour vacation from your life. I will grant you the hour and you will allow it. There is no gravity, literally and figuratively, pulling you down,” she said.

A back-in-the-day college degreed physical education teacher, Fenn said she feels exercise has always been integrated into her life. But, sometimes even the hardy need shoring up. Fenn recently joined an exercise club to bump up her own determination knowing that a financial commitment would provide her the added incentive to keep up her own exercise routine and goals. “I am a late bloomer to running and never understood why I couldn’t run. This is the first time that I have been able to run since I

day this way. You don’t have to be standing to accomplish goals. Why not hoist that water bottle up for several repetitions before you take a drink,” adds Fenn.

Groups can be great motivational forces as Fenn has seen in her years of teaching experience, and changing it up is her recipe for inspiration. “Like an actor needing applause for encouragement, some people need that cheerleader to have them continue forward in exercise. I aim to mix it up in my classes with music, toys (water exercise equipment), humor, recognition of birthdays and allowing people to tell their story. People come to my class post injury or because they don’t want to exercise on their own and it is a powerful force to be moving together,” Fenn said. have learned how to appropriately push my heart rate,” she said.

Independent or non-group exercise has limitless choices and is free. Walking, biking, hiking, chair exercise and daily stretching can be incorporated throughout the day, as Fenn states. Why just sit while watching the news? Grab some soup cans and do those arm raises, stretch, march and kick from a seated position. Rent one of the numerous exercise VHS and DVD tapes at a local library to provide the incentive and guidance on how to get moving.

Speaking not only from the voice of an experienced instructor but also an exercise consumer branching out into new ventures, Fenn lives by the adage, “It is never too late.” What about you?