Originally published in BND’s Lipstik Magazine in March 2010. Sadly, Marcia lost her life to pancreatic cancer in March 2011. She is dearly remembered by many.
When she was 40, Marcia Pruett didn’t like what she saw in the mirror. Previous years of raising children had meant eating their leftovers, not moving her body enough, and putting her own needs on the backburner.
“I was fat and unhappy with my life,” said Pruett. “Depression led me toward a downward spiral.”
Instead of hitting rock bottom, Pruett decided to take back control. She started lifting weights at home and witnessed her body starting to transform. She became interested in horseback riding, then bicycling and running, and eventually swimming.
“One thing led to another and I started training for biathlons and eventually triathlons,” said Pruett. Since then, the now 63-year-old grandmother from Waterloo has collected nearly 300 medals from races around the country. Her mother recently made her a quilt out of 20 race T-shirts.
But Pruett’s passion for fitness went far beyond personal accomplishments. When she realized how much her own life was being transformed by movement, she wanted to share that knowledge with others.
She got a job at the YMCA in South County in 1994, and became a certified personal trainer in 1996.
“I found great joy and fulfillment in helping people change not only their bodies but also their lives,” she said. “I had friends, many of them in their 40’s, who were going through the same kind of depression that I had…40 can be really tough for some. I encouraged them to get moving and started training them. Many of them made exercise a part of their daily routine… and became so much happier.”
When the Monroe County YMCA opened, Pruett began training and teaching multiple classes to various age groups and fitness levels. One of her passions lies in water aerobics.
“Water lets you move your body and relax your muscles regardless of ailments or condition,” she said. “I’ve had people with arthritis who were afraid of the pain in exercise; a man with one leg who is otherwise confined to crutches or a wheelchair; very heavy people who have to monitor their heart rate; and pregnant women who have uncomfortable pressure doing regular aerobics. They all fall in love with the water because it lets them move again.”
She also leads a triathlon training club, and several cycling and aerobics classes. In Silver Sneakers, seniors up to 90 years have been able to enjoy exercise in chairs, using resistance bands to strengthen their muscles.
“They’re just so excited to move,” said Pruett. “And it becomes a social circle. They get out and see the same classmates every week and make friends.”
If Pruett doesn’t see some of her regulars in classes, she checks up on them.
“I call and say ‘I haven’t seen you in a while. When are you coming back?’ It holds them accountable and lets them know that we miss them.”
Between personal training, teaching classes and spending time with grandchildren, her life is pretty full. But on the weekends she still makes time to run, ride her bike, or do something else that makes her happy, which usually includes exercise.
“I know now that we were not born to be couch potatoes,” said Pruett. “We were born to move.”