There are a lot of reasons why our active adult community is so, well …active! Our fantastic fitness center and the team that works there help to ensure that our residents are fit, healthy, and happy. Leading the effort is Gina Beckwith, our wonderful fitness instructor who has a passion for helping our residents be as healthy as can be. We sat down with Gina to get the scoop on her work — how she got started in the industry, came to be at Soleil, and what she does to relax. (Yes, she does relax even though she has a husband, three kids, and juggles multiple jobs.)
How did you get interested in fitness?
“Growing up, I was always active and into athletics. I enjoyed participating in basketball, softball, and track in high school and beyond. Later in life, after my second child was born, I joined a gym in Woodstock. I loved going to the gym and went often. There, I befriended a group fitness instructor who suggested I become an instructor too. I decided to go for it, and I got certified! It’s hard to believe that was 17 years ago.”
How long have you been teaching at Soleil?
“I started teaching at Soleil 10 years ago. It’s funny how it happened. I was (and still am) working at the Y in Canton. Years ago, before Soleil had finished their Clubhouse and Fitness Facilities, some of the residents were coming to the Y to workout in my classes. When the gym at Soleil was nearing completion, those residents invited me to start teaching a fitness class there. All was going great with that and then, three years ago, the HOA created a fitness instructor position. I, along with several others, applied for the job. Fortunately, I was hired and I’ve been here ever since.”
What are the classes you offer and how do residents “sign up”?
I am a certified water instructor and offer indoor pool classes as well as outdoor ones when the weather cooperates. I also teach a “co-ed cardio combo” class, which is a mixture of boot camp, weights, pilates, and more. I change it up for each class to make it interesting and fun. I always incorporate weights, as weight-training is so important for everyone, especially women. To keep residents aware of what we offer, I send a fitness newsletter on the first of each month. I also maintain both an online calendar and paper calendar with the fitness class schedules. We have a wide variety of classes to choose from. If a resident wants to try a new class, they can take their first one for free. If they like it, they can work with the instructor on signing up for more. But if the class wasn’t for them, it’s no big deal — all they are out is their time. We do our best to cater to all needs and try to make the Fitness Center offerings both flexible and inviting for all.
What has been your favorite part of your job?
“I love to work out, but I also have a passion for helping people get in shape. No matter my client’s age or fitness ability, I know I can inspire them to get fit. I feel very fortunate that my work gives me the ability to both exercise and help people obtain a stronger, healthier body.”
When it comes to your work at Soleil, what has been the most rewarding part of it?
“Hands down, I love seeing and hearing about the positive results people get from getting fit. Those who put in the work always get some kind of beneficial outcome. In fact, one of my clients was recently diagnosed with some alarming health issues. But because he was fit, he was able to get treatment that is typically only reserved for younger men. Fortunately, that particular treatment worked well for him. Overall, I just really enjoy seeing people stick with their fitness program, get healthy as a result, and then get surprising payoffs in other parts of their life. Of course it’s rewarding to see people get stronger, gain better balance, and improve their quality of life too.”
What things do you do to keep up with senior fitness standards as well as new trends?
“I count myself fortunate, as I am still an employee at the Y in Canton (going on 13 years now.) Having that job gives me the ability to access top-quality continuing education credits (CECs.) Top fitness pros teach the CEC courses, and I gain a lot of knowledge and best practices from them. It’s a great way to maintain my active older adult and senior fitness certifications. Also, I “walk the walk.” I enjoy staying fit by participating in a number of different activities outside of work.”
What is your favorite fitness tip?
“Honestly, it’s that fitness knows no age. I believe anyone can build muscle and get fit no matter how old they are. I encourage people to avoid comparing themselves to others because I know if they make fitness a part of their weekly schedule they will see results.”
What is a random, interesting fact about you?
“Everyone thinks I operate at one speed only: turbo! But I’m not always like that. When I do finally sit down to relax, I indulge in historical fiction. My favorite author is Phillipa Gregory. I also love shows like Downton Abbey and movies like Pride and Prejudice.
Oh, and another quirky thing about me is that I love to thrift shop and I enjoy the challenge of finding great deals.”
During our chat, Gina had also mentioned how fantastic the Soleil Fitness Center is. It not only has a designated space for cardio and yoga classes, but is also well-equipped with the latest and greatest machines and weights for getting and staying in shape. Why not check it out for yourself? Or better yet, take a class? Plan to “Sneak-a-peek” at Soleil and you can do both, and so much more. We look forward to hosting you soon.