John F. Russell: Hoping to keep pace with Giselle

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— It is easy to pick 80-year-old Giselle Miller out in the crowded room during a Zumba class at Old Town Hot Springs — not because her age separates her from the pack of those dedicated to getting in better shape but because she has a smile and energy that fills the room.

John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by John here.

On Thursday, Giselle celebrated her 80th birthday — one day early — with a surprise party thrown by the members of the Zumba class that she attends three times per week. The hourlong class was nearing its end — the members covered in sweat and gasping for every breath of air — and she was in a group of people nearly half her age enjoying every moment.

As I watched her, I couldn’t help but wonder where I will be standing 20 or 30 years from now. How will I grow old?

It’s easy to be inspired by athletes like Giselle. She follows in the footsteps of John Fetcher, Alfred Kahn and many others in Steamboat Springs who lead active lives.

A few years ago, I watcher Fetcher and Kahn play a tennis match, something they did at least once per week, with several senior other players. Kahn and Fetcher where in their 90s at the time, and the rest of the members of the group weren’t far behind. I’ve covered several other seniors in the area who run, others who bike and plenty who have no desire to sink into the soft cushions of a La-Z-Boy.

I don’t admire these people because of their age. I admire them because of what they choose to do with each day.

As we get older, we will all tend to slow down, we will all find it more difficult to bend over and pick up an item from the floor and we will all find it a little harder to get out and do the things that make life fun.

But these folks refuse to give in to the stereotype that defines old age, and remaining active keeps them in step not only with their own health, but also with the community in which they live.

Have you ever stopped in the middle of a busy day and asked, seriously asked, what you will be doing as you grow old?

Does your future hold long afternoons in front of the television watching golf, or will it be about grabbing the clubs and heading out on the course to walk 18 holes?

It goes beyond just physical activity. I sometimes wonder if I will spend my afternoons playing cards or some other game with friends or looking at the same wall day after day?

I understand that in the next stretch of my life, I will be faced with choices that will lead down one path or another. The only thing I can hope for is that I will find a path that will make me happy and allow me to make the most of every day.

Giselle doesn’t have to worry about where she will be. On the eve of her 80th birthday, she could be found in the middle of a Zumba class keeping pace with participants half her age.

The smile on her face tells everybody around her she’s making the most out of every day, and this is exactly where she wants to be.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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