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In the Spotlight: Debbie MacDonald comes full circle!
Winter 2017-2018 Spotlight Interview: Debbie MacDonald Comes Full Circle
Senior Center Staff: Debbie MacDonald is a Silver Sneakers fitness instructor and meditation class attendee at the LSC. She is our first brave soul in our “Get to know the Senior Center” series. Debbie, you’re pictured on the front cover of this quarter’s GO Catalog. Even though it seems like you’ve only been with us a few months, your story with the Senior Center actually goes back much further, doesn’t it?
Debbie: Yes! In fact, I was working for senior services before we even had a building of our own back in 1975! 1975 at senior services memorial building. Was this built in ’76? I was a leader like Kari, and it was Jodi the manager and ME. It was much smaller back then and there were probably about 50K people in Longmont at the time, so it was really right at the beginning of some development around here locally. I quit to have my daughter and ended up working teaching fitness back at the Rec Center when she was old enough to end up in school.
What brought you to the senior center originally?
I have a degree in Recreation from UNC and had just moved to Longmont. Everyone there had also graduated from UNC, so we all knew each other. I had little part time jobs—teaching folk dance to preschoolers, doing hand-written registrations for classes, all kinds of duties that were cobbled together originally. And at the time, I was also taking a fitness class when the instructor quit and they asked me if I was interested in taking it over. I took a weekend to figure out a routine and then took over the morning class! And there was a full time position opening up in senior services so I applied and got it full time. Back in ’75, it was a bedroom community, very small. You used to see someone you knew any time you went anywhere; it’s changed a lot. Senior services was very small: it was Jodi and me!
Were you doing any fitness for senior services at the time? Or just programming?
I was planning potlucks, trips, social dances—in fact, I was thinking on the way in there might be a photo album of me and Jodi in there. It was small, nothing like what it is today with a sixty page catalog! I think it might have been 3 pages and we had to do everything by hand, of course, because we were doing it all before computers.
How long did you work in the original Longmont Senior Services?
It was about a year and a half that I worked there before I got pregnant, and in those days, you know, the women stayed home, so I left to raise my daughter for several years, but then as she went back to school and life shifted, I needed a part-time job, so I found myself again at the Recreation Center just when a new position was opening up again. I ended up working in fitness and gymnastics and expanding the SCOPE special needs program that's still around today. I ended up doing that for 28 years!
So, when did you retire from Recreation Services, and how long did it take you to come full circle at the Senior Center?
I retired about 4 years ago and just as I was figuring out how I wanted to spend my early retirement when my daughter had twins. Well, of course I helped out during those early years but when they started in to preschool earlier this year, I found myself wondering how I would fill the time when my daughter suggested Silver Sneakers. Well, of course that was a great fit: with my background in the early days of senior services and 30 years of being a fitness instructor—plus being a senior now—I just thought, what a great idea! So here I am! It’s great because it’s more unique than just being a fitness instructor. I am part of the community here at the Senior Center and I’ve really come full circle with it over 30 years or so.
And what does it take to be a Silver Sneakers instructor?
To get into Silver Sneakers you have to do their workshops and get a Silver Sneakers certification. I was actually attending the class before I even became certified and started teaching the Wednesday circuit class.
What can we expect if we sign up for the class?
We have a few different instructors at the Senior Center who teach Silver Sneakers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and we use weights, tubing, and balls to practice balance and flexibility. On Wednesdays for my class, we also add cardio to the routine in a ‘circuit.’ So, we start with cardio, then do a round with weights, then cardio, tubing, cardio, and ball work.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about your experience here with the Senior Center and our Silver Sneakers classes? What would you say to folks struggling with the stigma of aging and joining a ‘senior’ center?
If I could leave our readers with anything, it would be that it is such a FUN, FRIENDLY community of folks who are just so welcoming. We are such an inclusive community and there are so many resources available here. I would urge everyone to not only try our Silver Sneakers fitness classes, but to check out the picnics and lectures and health and wellness classes and just the tremendous range of offerings here at the senior center. There is something for everyone and if you don’t see it, you can start it yourself!
You can join Debbie MacDonald’s class every Wednesday at 8am. Sessions last 45 minutes and include a cardio workout in addition to balance and stretching exercises. Equipment is provided, just wear comfortable clothes you can move in and bring a water bottle to stay hydrated.
- Updated: 01/23/2018
- Updated: 12/15/2017