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'It is my Joie de Vivre!' Group of seniors in Kanata find way to stay fit outside

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A group of Kanata seniors have found a way to stay active during the pandemic safely.

Susan Kunstadt has been a fitness instructor for nearly five decades. Her indoor classes were cancelled in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

"Two years ago when everything closed, even my community centre, I was thinking. ‘Am I ready to quit?' And I was not ready to quit!" said Kunstadt.

The 73-year-old says once she got the green light to gather outdoors in small groups safely, she started an outdoor, one-hour class at the Eva James Community Centre in Kanata.

"I sent an email and I said, 'Monday morning 9 o’clock at Eva James but outside, that was around March 18 (2020)' and two years later – we are still here!” Kunstadt says.

The class is free and takes place three times a week.

"This is my community service that I do – I have lived in Bridlewood for 43 years."

Kristin Timmins has come to classes since the beginning.

"I feel so much better after the exercise. You have to live in your body so you might as well exercise in it," said Kunstadt.

Lise Lajeunesse joining midway through the pandemic after encouragement from her neighbour.

"I had just retired, I came, and I got hooked immediately! Love the class, love the people it is so much fun. It is my 'Joie de Vivre!'" said Lajeunesse.

The class takes place rain, shine- or even blizzard. Even on Monday during the record-breaking storm, group members showed up.

"In ten minutes, everyone says they are sweating, we are outside – vitamin D!" says Kunstadt.

Kunstadt says the turnout and the seniors’ commitment shows just how important exercise it.

"Not just for our bodies- but for our mental health now. I am working on flexibility, balance, mobility, we have weights," said Kunstadt. "In the summer we used rubber bands-but we can’t use them in the winter, it is too cold for them, they are too stiff.”

Ruth Moreau, a regular to class, says it is a way to beat the pandemic blues.

"Totally! We are just so happy that we have this, I don’t know where we would be mentally if we hadn’t had this outdoor adventure three times a week."

Kunstadt says she has no plans on stopping teaching the class.

"I have taught fitness for 43 years, I feel very satisfied, and very proud of these elderly… nothing will stop me!”

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