FOCUS ON SENIORS: Ninety pounds lighter and infinitely happier

Living Apr 27, 2017 by Victoria Lumax Brant News

Sixty-one-year-old Sandra Kulperger is on the go now more than ever. 

But she hasn’t always enjoyed exercising.

“I was overweight and depressed and needed something to occupy my time,” said Kulperger. “I heard about the group and wanted to do something to get back some of my life that I had lost over the years.”

Shape Up Support Group, a class and community spearheaded by fitness consultant Wendy Okkema, was one of the catalysts that prompted Kulperger’s change of heart. It has been running for eight years.

The group runs every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. out of Brant Community Church in Eagle Place, and the cost per class is a suggested donation of $3.

Women of all ages are welcome, but the class provides extra support for older women.

Monday’s class is done using a chair, and focuses on toning. Tuesday and Thursday are more strenuous, focusing on toning and cardio.

Kulperger joined the group seven years ago. Three years later, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The severe knee pain prompted her to get a knee replacement.

“The classes helped my recovery after surgery. It was only four weeks, where it’s usually a minimum of six to eight weeks,” Kulperger said.

Before the surgery, Okkema’s class and a healthy lifestyle helped Kulperger lose 30 pounds.

Afterward, she achieved even more, losing another 60 pounds.

“I’ve dropped from a 3X to a large,” Kulperger said. “I’ve come a long way, and I’m keeping at it.”

Okkema shares the same excitement and passion for healthy and active living. She originally started the group at Friendship House for moms and their children, but soon she noticed that there was an even greater need in Brantford — a fitness class for older women.

“They needed an outlet like this that is affordable,” Okkema said. “Everyone is accepted, not just the people who can pay $50 to $70 for a personal trainer.

“I believe that everybody can exercise. It doesn’t matter what their schedule or limitations are. They can do the exercises in a different way, depending on their injury. I have relationships with them, so I know their limitations.”

As the name of the group reads, it is just as much a support group as it is a fitness class.

“And it’s not just an exercise class,” Okkema said. “It’s about eating habits, people who don’t know each other becoming friends, being there for those whose loved one has passed away, calling those who don’t come to a class to tell them that we miss them. There are relationships.”

The group is known for its welcoming nature, as well as Okkema’s encouraging spirit.

“The people I’ve met, we’ve all become friends,” Kulperger said. “We’re there for each other … and we all love (Okkema) to death.”

Okkema makes it a priority to include a variety of exercises and activities to make the group enjoyable.

“We use hula hoops, basketballs, clapping, singing, and more,” she said. “Every move has a purpose, but they just don’t know it. They are just having fun.”

Over the years, her concern and respect for the health and well-being of seniors has grown.

“They work hard, put time in, and they are the age group that realizes the importance of exercise, that it’s not just about weight loss,” Okkema said. “I am encouraged and blessed by the age group … They are an inspiration to me. I want to be like them.”

Okkema hosts a more intense version of the class at Brantford General Hospital from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

She also offers one-on-one Skype fitness sessions, which is a great service for those who prefer to work out in the comfort of their own home or simply don’t want to give themselves excuses.

Okkema used to work at fitness clubs, but she didn’t enjoy working weekends and nights, as well as having to pay outrageous booking fees. Previously a stay-at-home mom, she didn’t like the demands of working full-time.

“I didn’t like having a ‘real job,’” Okkema said. “I liked having appointments and being with my family. There’s something to be said about the freedom.

“I never want to retire. I want to do this as long as I can … It’s one of the best jobs ever.”

To learn more about Shape Up Support Group, visit Facebook.com/groups/shapeupsupportgroup.

For more information on Okkema’s other classes and services, call 519-484-1120.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Ninety pounds lighter and infinitely happier

Shape Up Support Group fitness class provides space for women of all abilities and ages to stay active

Living Apr 27, 2017 by Victoria Lumax Brant News

Sixty-one-year-old Sandra Kulperger is on the go now more than ever. 

But she hasn’t always enjoyed exercising.

“I was overweight and depressed and needed something to occupy my time,” said Kulperger. “I heard about the group and wanted to do something to get back some of my life that I had lost over the years.”

Shape Up Support Group, a class and community spearheaded by fitness consultant Wendy Okkema, was one of the catalysts that prompted Kulperger’s change of heart. It has been running for eight years.

The group runs every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. out of Brant Community Church in Eagle Place, and the cost per class is a suggested donation of $3.

Women of all ages are welcome, but the class provides extra support for older women.

Monday’s class is done using a chair, and focuses on toning. Tuesday and Thursday are more strenuous, focusing on toning and cardio.

Kulperger joined the group seven years ago. Three years later, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The severe knee pain prompted her to get a knee replacement.

“The classes helped my recovery after surgery. It was only four weeks, where it’s usually a minimum of six to eight weeks,” Kulperger said.

Before the surgery, Okkema’s class and a healthy lifestyle helped Kulperger lose 30 pounds.

Afterward, she achieved even more, losing another 60 pounds.

“I’ve dropped from a 3X to a large,” Kulperger said. “I’ve come a long way, and I’m keeping at it.”

Okkema shares the same excitement and passion for healthy and active living. She originally started the group at Friendship House for moms and their children, but soon she noticed that there was an even greater need in Brantford — a fitness class for older women.

“They needed an outlet like this that is affordable,” Okkema said. “Everyone is accepted, not just the people who can pay $50 to $70 for a personal trainer.

“I believe that everybody can exercise. It doesn’t matter what their schedule or limitations are. They can do the exercises in a different way, depending on their injury. I have relationships with them, so I know their limitations.”

As the name of the group reads, it is just as much a support group as it is a fitness class.

“And it’s not just an exercise class,” Okkema said. “It’s about eating habits, people who don’t know each other becoming friends, being there for those whose loved one has passed away, calling those who don’t come to a class to tell them that we miss them. There are relationships.”

The group is known for its welcoming nature, as well as Okkema’s encouraging spirit.

“The people I’ve met, we’ve all become friends,” Kulperger said. “We’re there for each other … and we all love (Okkema) to death.”

Okkema makes it a priority to include a variety of exercises and activities to make the group enjoyable.

“We use hula hoops, basketballs, clapping, singing, and more,” she said. “Every move has a purpose, but they just don’t know it. They are just having fun.”

Over the years, her concern and respect for the health and well-being of seniors has grown.

“They work hard, put time in, and they are the age group that realizes the importance of exercise, that it’s not just about weight loss,” Okkema said. “I am encouraged and blessed by the age group … They are an inspiration to me. I want to be like them.”

Okkema hosts a more intense version of the class at Brantford General Hospital from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

She also offers one-on-one Skype fitness sessions, which is a great service for those who prefer to work out in the comfort of their own home or simply don’t want to give themselves excuses.

Okkema used to work at fitness clubs, but she didn’t enjoy working weekends and nights, as well as having to pay outrageous booking fees. Previously a stay-at-home mom, she didn’t like the demands of working full-time.

“I didn’t like having a ‘real job,’” Okkema said. “I liked having appointments and being with my family. There’s something to be said about the freedom.

“I never want to retire. I want to do this as long as I can … It’s one of the best jobs ever.”

To learn more about Shape Up Support Group, visit Facebook.com/groups/shapeupsupportgroup.

For more information on Okkema’s other classes and services, call 519-484-1120.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Ninety pounds lighter and infinitely happier

Shape Up Support Group fitness class provides space for women of all abilities and ages to stay active

Living Apr 27, 2017 by Victoria Lumax Brant News

Sixty-one-year-old Sandra Kulperger is on the go now more than ever. 

But she hasn’t always enjoyed exercising.

“I was overweight and depressed and needed something to occupy my time,” said Kulperger. “I heard about the group and wanted to do something to get back some of my life that I had lost over the years.”

Shape Up Support Group, a class and community spearheaded by fitness consultant Wendy Okkema, was one of the catalysts that prompted Kulperger’s change of heart. It has been running for eight years.

The group runs every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. out of Brant Community Church in Eagle Place, and the cost per class is a suggested donation of $3.

Women of all ages are welcome, but the class provides extra support for older women.

Monday’s class is done using a chair, and focuses on toning. Tuesday and Thursday are more strenuous, focusing on toning and cardio.

Kulperger joined the group seven years ago. Three years later, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The severe knee pain prompted her to get a knee replacement.

“The classes helped my recovery after surgery. It was only four weeks, where it’s usually a minimum of six to eight weeks,” Kulperger said.

Before the surgery, Okkema’s class and a healthy lifestyle helped Kulperger lose 30 pounds.

Afterward, she achieved even more, losing another 60 pounds.

“I’ve dropped from a 3X to a large,” Kulperger said. “I’ve come a long way, and I’m keeping at it.”

Okkema shares the same excitement and passion for healthy and active living. She originally started the group at Friendship House for moms and their children, but soon she noticed that there was an even greater need in Brantford — a fitness class for older women.

“They needed an outlet like this that is affordable,” Okkema said. “Everyone is accepted, not just the people who can pay $50 to $70 for a personal trainer.

“I believe that everybody can exercise. It doesn’t matter what their schedule or limitations are. They can do the exercises in a different way, depending on their injury. I have relationships with them, so I know their limitations.”

As the name of the group reads, it is just as much a support group as it is a fitness class.

“And it’s not just an exercise class,” Okkema said. “It’s about eating habits, people who don’t know each other becoming friends, being there for those whose loved one has passed away, calling those who don’t come to a class to tell them that we miss them. There are relationships.”

The group is known for its welcoming nature, as well as Okkema’s encouraging spirit.

“The people I’ve met, we’ve all become friends,” Kulperger said. “We’re there for each other … and we all love (Okkema) to death.”

Okkema makes it a priority to include a variety of exercises and activities to make the group enjoyable.

“We use hula hoops, basketballs, clapping, singing, and more,” she said. “Every move has a purpose, but they just don’t know it. They are just having fun.”

Over the years, her concern and respect for the health and well-being of seniors has grown.

“They work hard, put time in, and they are the age group that realizes the importance of exercise, that it’s not just about weight loss,” Okkema said. “I am encouraged and blessed by the age group … They are an inspiration to me. I want to be like them.”

Okkema hosts a more intense version of the class at Brantford General Hospital from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

She also offers one-on-one Skype fitness sessions, which is a great service for those who prefer to work out in the comfort of their own home or simply don’t want to give themselves excuses.

Okkema used to work at fitness clubs, but she didn’t enjoy working weekends and nights, as well as having to pay outrageous booking fees. Previously a stay-at-home mom, she didn’t like the demands of working full-time.

“I didn’t like having a ‘real job,’” Okkema said. “I liked having appointments and being with my family. There’s something to be said about the freedom.

“I never want to retire. I want to do this as long as I can … It’s one of the best jobs ever.”

To learn more about Shape Up Support Group, visit Facebook.com/groups/shapeupsupportgroup.

For more information on Okkema’s other classes and services, call 519-484-1120.