Changing Lives with Fun, Fitness, and Friends

Story and photos provided by the Stillwater Family YMCA

At the Stillwater Family YMCA, the staff know the diminutive Silver Sneakers class instructor as “Mrs. Lou”, but her class all just know her as Lou Richmond.  Lou was born and raised in Stillwater, graduating from High School in 1962.  She and her husband Norm moved away but eventually returned to Stillwater and in 1979, she began working as a teacher’s aide.  Lou worked her way through the school system, becoming the administrative assistant for the athletic director, principal, and finally the superintendent.

IMG_5686Watching her lead the senior citizen’s exercise class with strength and poise, you wouldn’t know that at the age of 53 she was diagnosed with osteopenia, the early stages of osteoporosis.   Although she had always considered herself healthy, this diagnosis led Lou to make a change in her lifestyle.  

As instructed by her physician, Lou began a fitness program to strengthen her bones.  She participated in various classes from aerobics to weightlifting.  After increasing her strength and fitness, she was asked to take over her aerobics class.  She committed to becoming a certified instructor to ensure that she offered the best instruction she could for those looking to her for guidance. Eventually, Lou took on more classes including a class dedicated to helping senior citizens strengthen their bones.

Lou became involved with the YMCA through an aerobics student who also participated in the Silver Sneakers program.  The Y was looking for a new Silver Sneakers instructor and Lou stepped into that role in 2009.  Silver Sneakers is a nationwide program with over 13,000 programs helping seniors be healthy and physically independent. Silver Sneakers creates lasting relationships between participants striving toward a similar goal and encourages seniors to “get fit, have fun, and make friends!”

Lou is a true inspiration and an example of how the YMCA and its programs benefit seniors in the community as well as the youth.  Lou  has even competed in the Senior Olympics where she ran 50m, 100m, and 200m sprints. She also competed in weightlifting where she did bicep curls and lifted 425 lbs in the leg press.  While competing in the state Senior Olympics she won many awards including best female weight lifter.

Because of her dedication to living a healthy lifestyle and continued participation in fitness programs like those offered at the Stillwater Family YMCA, “Mrs. Lou” is healthy, fit, and currently does not take any medication for osteopenia. Nineteen years ago, Lou changed her life to improve her fitness and strength to fight back against osteopenia.  She nurtured these changes through participation in programs like those offered at the YMCA and as a result is able to continue to be independent and create relationships that extend past the YMCA throughout the community.