Jackie Russell: Slow and Steady

Jackie has been a member here for as long as we can remember and an employee for a good portion of that time. When Jackie first came to the RiverPlex, it was through a program called Trim Down Corporate Fat to which corporations competed against each other for weight loss. At the time, Jackie worked at CEFCU full-time and was asked to be involved in the program. She was part of a team of 5 individuals from CEFCU that all received education and training during the program to lose weight.

After seeing much success from this program, she knew she wanted to keep going! However, in order to do so, she also knew she had to stay in an environment such as the RiverPlex. After talking to Carl Cannon, Supervisor of the E.L.I.T.E. program at the Peoria Park District, Jackie decided to apply for a part time position at the RiverPlex to ensure she stayed motivated to keep her success on track. Jackie noted, “I never wanted to be a burden. As a single parent to my daughter, I never wanted to be a burden to her. I wanted to be the best I can be for my age.”

When Jackie first joined the gym, she started walking the track with her friend, Lou. After several months of only doing the track, they decided to add the treadmill to their routine, as they knew it would keep a consistent pace as they walked. About once a month, they would increase the length of time they were on the treadmill and they started noticing strength building in their legs and glutes. After adding other pieces of equipment in their regimen, Jackie’s friend Lou wanted to take one of the cycling classes, RPM.

The first class Jackie ever attended was JoAn’s Monday 5:15am RPM class. “After about 10 minutes into the class, Lou wanted to leave and I said uh-uh! We’re staying! Lou was so mad because she sleeps on her back and she couldn’t because of her butt hurting from the bike seat! We did the class, but it was the longest 45 minutes of my life.” After this first class, Jackie went to Wal-Mart and purchased both of them gel bike seats, which Jackie still uses.

“I used to have nightmares about that 1 hour class.” Yet, after a long time they decided to try the Thursday 60 minute RPM class with Andrea. Then, about every 7-8 months, they kept adding one more to their weekly regimen. Jackie is now 68 years young and takes 4 cycling classes per week at the RiverPlex. It has taken her about 6 years to get up to that point.

“I can see the difference in my body shape! My weight is down. I’m more toned. My cholesterol,blood pressure have decreased and  heart burn is completely gone.”

Some advice Jackie had to offer? “When you are in classes, rate yourself according to YOU! Don’t measure your workout or your results based on someone else. It has NOTHING to do with age. You have to find what works for you.”

After being here for so long, Jackie is planning to move to Tennessee in the near future. “I wish I could take the RiverPlex with me. This place is family. It’s home.”

author: Angela Bland