86-year-old fitness instructor inspires others to get ahead
TULSA, Okla. — The second Friday in January is known as Quitter Day, the day people are most likely to drop their New Year’s resolutions. If you’re thinking of ditching yours, Gerry’s story Dunbar might inspire you to go ahead.
You see, Gerry is sassy, feisty, and possibly Oklahoma’s oldest aerobics instructor.
“I’m 86! It’s just a number,” says Gerry.
From push-ups to planks, Gerry is a fitness inspiration.
“There is no one like Gerry. She’s adorable, everyone loves her,” says course participant Vivian Howard.
Gerry started teaching in her 60s and has been going strong for 25 years. The only break from fitness this 80-year-old so-called “Energizer Bunny” took was after a serious diagnosis several years ago. “During a routine checkup, the doctors found a spot on one of my breasts. I said, ok, what are we going to do? They said, let’s do a mastectomy. I got it, and I was back teaching in a month,” Gerry recalls.
Gerry begins each lesson with prayer, grateful for his health and his students. “Before the pandemic, I averaged 80 to 100 students, and one day I had 120 people in that gym,” she says.
His classes are averaging around 50 now due to the pandemic. Gerry says, “I don’t charge for this course. I do it because it’s my heart. It fills me with joy.
Classes are held three mornings a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 am to 9:30 am at First United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow. Free courses are not just for seniors; they are open to all ages. The only thing Gerry asks is that all participants be vaccinated. “We try to protect ourselves, but the others too”, explains Gerry.
Gerry isn’t the only family member into fitness. Her 88-year-old husband, Bill Dunbar, is a former runner. “Until about three years ago, I was doing the Tulsa Run,” says Bill.
Now Bill is teaching a chair exercise class across the hall. “It’s the same time as this class, and it’s for people who can’t take my class now, not because of their age, but physically. It’s also a place where you can sit and talk to someone…and that’s important.” says Gerry.
You see, what’s going on here is more than just physical fitness; lives are also transformed by friendship.
“We started bunco groups; we throw parties, we do all kinds of things together now. If it wasn’t for Gerry, I wouldn’t know 99% of these people,” says Vivian Howard.
It’s a fitness community making big strides, thanks to an 86-year-old woman who never plans to act her age.
For more information about the class and its location, click here.
Want positive news in your email every Friday? SIGN UP for our Positively Oklahoma newsletter.
For more Positively Oklahoma stories, visit our website
Join our Positively Oklahoma Facebook group to submit your photos of the great things you see across the state.