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102-year-old fitness coach is bringing joy to seniors with baked goods, exercise and friendship

She has been teaching the class for almost three years and is a 'strict' coach, despite using a walker herself.

102-year-old fitness coach is bringing joy to seniors with baked goods, exercise and friendship
Image Source: Youtube/WDRB News - Official

There is no age limit to work or do something that you love. While talking about age, older people can bring more experience, skills and perspectives to their pursuits. Moreover, it also diminishes the idea that there is a fixed timeline for succeeding in life. A 102-year-old woman is constantly proving this by teaching a fitness class four times a week, reports The Washington Post. Jean Bailey is a resident of Elk Ridge Village Senior Living in Omaha and lives in the facility’s independent-living quarters. She has been teaching this fitness class for almost three years now. She said, "When I get old, I’ll quit."


Bailey mentioned that some of her regular clients have arthritis that restricts their mobility, but they can comfortably perform stretching exercises and derive benefits from them. Bailey, who also uses a walker frequently, is a strict coach despite this. She explained that she is teased and called "mean" for being strict in her classes. "The girls seem to realize what I’m going to do for them," she added. "It’s for me, too."

In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic led people to isolate themselves in their rooms, the 99-year-old Bailey initiated exercise classes. Despite being a senior among the Elk Ridge residents, she was not intimidated by the younger ages of her peers. Being someone who was keen on staying active and adept at motivating people, she encouraged her neighbors to bring chairs into the hallway and performed simple exercises while adhering to social distancing measures. She said, "I really feel that if you don’t keep your mind and body busy, then why are you here?" Everyone enjoyed it immensely and the classes never stopped.


Bailey conducts 30-minute exercise classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, which begin at 9:45 a.m. She starts each class with a prayer after giving participants enough time to dress and eat breakfast. She said, "You move every part of your body, absolutely, from your hands to your toes." Apart from keeping them fit, the classes also have allowed the women attending to form beautiful friendships. Bailey said, "We’ve gotten pretty close up there on our floor. One of us would do something for anybody. We really keep track of each other."

One of these women is Phyllis Black, 87, who lives down the hall from Bailey and enjoys her classes. Black was welcomed by Bailey with homemade cookies and two tomatoes from her family member's garden when she moved into Elk Ridge about three and a half years ago. Bailey often treats the participants with baked goods after the exercise sessions, especially on birthdays, as she believes all birthdays are significant at this age. Black said of Bailey, "She’s a very nice neighbor, and she’s a good friend also. She’s very talented."



Bailey's long life and ability to overcome difficulties are the result of her challenging upbringing. She was born in Wyoming in 1921 and grew up during the Great Depression as one of five children. At the age of 3, Bailey was given away to another family by her mother and subsequently grew up as an only child with a father who worked on a railroad. Her family moved from Iowa to Nebraska, where Bailey has resided ever since.

During her teenage years, Bailey worked as a model for J.C. Penney. She got married in 1942, but her husband, Loren Bailey, passed away in 1989. The couple had three children together: a son named Bruce, a daughter named Pennyrae and another daughter named Patty, who unfortunately died at 55 due to cancer. Bailey has five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Bailey was a stay-at-home mother when her children were young but later pursued floristry, which remains one of her hobbies.

Described as the "queen bee" by Laura Stuart, the former lifestyle director at Elk Ridge, Bailey is held in high regard. Stuart said, "She brings her expertise in the floral arrangements and is always doing beautiful arrangements. She brings that to us, and it’s just a godsend that she’s still here with us to even do such an intricate type of floral arrangement." 

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