Patsy Kohnke gets ready to teach 55+ Yoga at the Cariboo Memorial Complex Tuesday morning in Williams Lake. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Smart 55: Fitness instructor keeps Williams Lake in great shape

Patsy Kohnke has been teaching fitness in the lakecity since she was 19

Fitness instructor Patsy Kohnke credits her late mom, Connie Johnson, for motivating her to begin exercising almost four decades ago.

“I was about 19 when my mom started exercising,” Kohnke said. “She was about 38 or 40 and told me I was coming to the gym with her.”

The mother and daughter duo started working out on machines at a local gym called Nautilus and then moved to powerlifting free weights in the back room.

“It was mostly guys. There weren’t that many women lifting weights in those days,” she recalled.

From there she got into body building and began teaching fitness classes at the Cariboo Memorial Complex, which she continued until her mom died in 1998.

“I went back in 2004 and have been teaching at the rec centre ever since,” she said, noting she works about 21 hours a week.

Read more: VIDEO/PHOTOS: Annual Harvest Run celebrates fall under sunny skies

A young senior herself, Kohnke, 57, finds she enjoys teaching seniors because there is such a variety in abilities.

“Some of them in their 80s move like they are 20 and some in their 50s move like they are 80,” she explained.

She will modify some of the classes, but finds that seniors, especially women, know what they can and cannot do.

“We sometimes call it laughing yoga because we have so much fun and it’s not like exercise at all,” Kohnke said.

“The seniors meet other people and feel motivated.”

Often seniors will start a class using chairs for support and then gradually get to the point they don’t need the chairs.

“The seniors in the classes are so kind when a new person starts off with a chair because they will let them know they used to use one at the beginning until they improved their balance and flexibility.”

Seniors also really want to learn and for some people the best way to do that is join an exercise group.

One of her courses for seniors is held at the Seniors Activity Centre and focuses on agility.

Additionally she teaches group fitness classes for adults such as boot camp, TRX, yoga and aquafit, and children in a course called Pound Rock Out at the Cariboo Memorial Complex as well as cycle, weights, yoga and pilates at Essence Pilates Studio.

Kohnke has participated in triathalons, 75 kilometre-bike rides and numerous other events, and likes when they raise funds for people in need, she added.

“I am blessed and honoured to be able to ride, walk, and run to help others.”

Kohnke has two grown sons — Tyler and Bryden.

Read more: B.C. funds pilot program to get more seniors doing gymnastics

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