Wanda: Ten Times On Each Side

Wanda: Ten Times On Each Side

This piece is dedicated to Wanda, whose immense strength can be measured both physically and by the way she guides, who gives of herself  compassionately, and who inspires us to go further in every way. And it is also lovingly dedicated to Sachi, whose new friends in Oahu will soon embrace her as ardently as we will miss her ageless spirit.



Silver and Fit is the name of our class. Wanda didn’t name it, though she has everything to do with why at 11:00 a loving stream of senior fitness fans troop in three times a week to her club house at Trunk Trainers, while elephants line up to peek at the door.

Who cares if we huddle and muddle — every one of us does! But I suspect nobody more so than wonderful Wanda, whose inside/outside lights warm our place.

They call it Silver Sneakers in some gyms, and word has it that she guides other sometimes silver haired troopers under different roofs. We share a teacher, who makes us giggle and occasionally revolt, who cannonballs back with her occasionally self-deprecating humor as she leads us forward and sometimes backwards, left and not right when she’s headed off on another foot. Which simply means that we’re not aspiring Rockettes — especially when she’s executing one foot and telling us to thrust the other. She’s deliciously fallible, like the rest of us, and she steers us to greater strength, eying her trusty list that tells her what comes next.

Wanda brings her own rules that we dare not break… crossed legs are not tolerated, inhale, exhale, tummies sucked in, knees soft. More than most, I’m challenged by the uncrossed legs edicts, and have listened to her explanation of why I must unwind the practice. (Her technical response flies like sales jargon over my ears… too much Latin for me.) I think she’s a part-time encyclopedia who identifies every muscle in the body in a lingo not everyone speaks. Biceps and triceps and I think there are other kinds of ‘ceps dangling off our skeletons too —

She hands us balls to hug between our knees and rubber snakes to stretch and weights to keep us from running away. Wanda sweats and rarely perspires and she gasps relief after 10 of this and over again. She’s one of us with a wiser blueprint of how to fight gravity’s pull. And devoted as we are to her, she never lets our awe fill her head. She’s just Wanda, wonderful, wise and 10 times on each side Wanda.

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