FITNESS CLUB MEMBER PROFILE:
BARB WEAVER: “I JUST KEEP MOVING!”
BY FITNESS MEMBER GAY GUARD-CHAMBERLIN
While Barb defines herself as “semi-retired” - she works occasionally as a freelance marketing/advertising consultant, teaches marketing and advertising at the college graduate level, plays guitar, is part of a small folk group, sings in the DePaul University Community Chorus, and volunteers as a “Saint” for Chicago-area performing arts - she was for many years creative and strategic director of marketing at the top echelon of the advertising world. “Think: Mad Men,” she says. When I ask what she would be doing now if she had continued working full time in such a high-pressure world, Barb exclaims, “I’d weigh 500 pounds! Or I’d be dead.”
Along with her gym activities, she belongs to an on-line Weight Watchers group and plans to continue using those tools even after she reaches her ultimate weight goal. She’s now “built a repertoire of good recipes with a ton of variety in flavor,” and knows the importance of diet to mind/body health. “I love to eat but was slowly digging my own grave with my knife and fork. Real food can be very satisfying. I’ve always loved to cook and I love fresh fruits and vegetables. I had to ask myself: why am I not eating more of them?
Longtime friend and fellow club member Sally Frantz jokes, “Barb is now half the size she was. Whenever we see each other, I say, ‘I’m seeing less and less of you all the time.’” Becoming serious, she points out, “It’s clear she feels so much better. At this stage of life, it’d be very easy to say ‘screw it’, thinking it’s too late to change, but Barb has a strong sense of ‘true north’, she knows our bodies respond. I say wow! She is remarkable.”
Other class members give her credit for motivating them through the ups and downs of practice, and even her instructors find her inspiring. Fitness Center yoga teacher Meridee Hodges remarks, “People who want to stay fit and vital and are between the ages of 40 and 70 often get lost in the cracks. At our ages, we know time is important. Barb’s committed to living a holistic life and feeling healthy in body and mind.”
Because she needed resistance training to rebuild strength in her knee due to torn cartilage, she tried swimming laps (as she’d done most of her life) but found it no longer helpful. She joined Curves for Women (then on Lincoln and Montrose), which featured a 30-minute low-impact circuit on hydraulic machines followed by simple stretching. Perhaps more importantly, it had an exceptionally supportive atmosphere, and Barb became an active Curves member for 11 years. Franchise owner Victoria Duran, now a fellow Fitness Center member, says, “Barb’s always so encouraging to others and good at making relationships. When things were going well for her, she was an inspiration to others. When things were not going as well, she was still always supportive with a good, positive attitude. Barb was -and is- a natural leader who made my job as club owner easy. While I provided the forum and the place, she brought her wonderfulness.”
When Victoria knew she had to close the doors of her franchise, she spent an entire year looking for a place that would replicate their workout and “preserve the camaraderie and sense of belonging” so valued by her members. She visited 6 area gyms and met with owners and staff. “None of the others were as pro-active as RFC.” Fitness Club Owner Jim Kroeger and Club Fitness Director Tami Herbst were the only ones who took the time to visit repeatedly and become well-acquainted with their approach, she said. Not only did they offer Curves members a substantial discount, they organized tours and free workouts with one-on-one equipment training for them and their families. According to Victoria, “They were supportive and welcoming and presented the right balance in terms of price point, variety of fitness options, and willingness to create special classes geared toward women.” As a result, at least 50 “Curvey women” (as Meridee jokingly calls them) joined RFC and EFC, and many of them have brought in other family members as well.
Tami and Meridee worked together to develop the circuit (now led by instructor Jessica Sawyers) which features 10 - 12 “stations”. Students, who now include men and women of all ages and backgrounds, run through the stations twice in the first half-hour, then cool down with an additional second half-hour of yoga poses, stretching, and meditation.
For Barb, this class was what made all the difference. “I’d taken some yoga in the past but it never really clicked for me. The combination of strength training in the circuit followed by 30 minutes of yoga got me hooked. I was able to handle it and actually enjoy it.” after only one year, her muscle memory, balance, core and quad strength are so improved (“I have definition for the first time in my life!”), the chronic back pain she had endured for most of her life has been largely eliminated.
When she started working out Barb never imagined she’d be able to handle 60 minutes of yoga; now she regularly attends several one-hour classes a week at RFC and EFC. She is proud to note that as her skills and self-confidence have blossomed, she can now even do the “impossible”, the ‘Wild Thing’ pose!