Imagine being 92 years old.
Now, imagine being 92 years old and being an active member in your local gym.
And when it comes to working out at Curves Fitness in Hickory Hills, Viola Strupeck is the belle of the ball. Or the glory of the gym.
For Strupeck, this is all a reality.
“Throughout the majority of my life, I have always belonged to some type of fitness center and I love staying active,” the Burbank resident said.
Strupeck joined Curves Fitness at the younger age of 81 in 2003 and has been a loyal member for the past 11 years, spending the past two years at the Hickory Hills’ location at 8725 W. 95th Street.
“Viola is very active, energetic and very well-liked by everyone who meets her,” Marcella Vrotney, Hickory Hills’ Curves owner, said, “She is such a wonderful person and everyone really loves her here.”
Strupeck and her husband, Carl, are described by fellow Curves members as extremely healthy aside from a few minor bumps in the health road including Carl’s September thyroid surgery. Carl turns 97 in December.
“He will bounce back very quickly,” Strupeck said. “As long as he listens to me.”
Being active has rooted from Strupeck’s childhood where she says aside from participating in local choir, she would spend her days playing baseball with neighborhood children in local sandlots for fun.
“I’m talking about the late 1930s, early 1940s,” she said, “A bunch of kids would get together and play baseball regularly. It wasn’t on a professional level by any means, but it was a lot of work and a lot of fun.”
Staying positive, staying active and staying healthy are keys to what Strupeck considers a full and happy life. Attending Curves for workout sessions 2-3 times a week helps her achieve her desired goal.
“I really enjoy going to Curves,” she said, “It keeps me moving and gives me the exercise I need. There are also very nice ladies there and throughout time spent there, we have developed wonderful friendships. Everyone socializes, knows each other and are really good friends. It is just a really nice environment to be surrounded in.”
Strupeck joined Curves through an organization known as SilverSneakers Fitness program that works with insurance companies to provide free gym memberships to senior citizens. It is estimated that approximately 20 percent of senior citizens are eligible for the SilverSneakers health benefit. More than 65 leading Medicare Advantage as well as Medigap plans include SilverSneakers as a benefit. One out of five people 65 and older are eligible for this fitness benefit. Having a Medicare health plan is all most senior citizens need to obtain a SilverSneakers membership.
“My daughter had originally told me about the SilverSneakers program,” Strupeck said, “When I first belonged to Curves, I was not a part of it, but as soon as I found out more information about it, I joined it immediately.”
Aside from being an active Curves member, Strupeck continues to work as the Director of Arrangements at St. Fabian Church in Bridgeview. For the past 50 years she participated in a variety of activities for the church, including ordering floral arrangements.
“As long as I can still do it and my brain is still working just fine, I don’t see any reason why I should quit doing it,” Strupeck joked, “I really enjoy my job there and spending so much time at the church.”
Strupeck also continues to grocery shop regularly and spend time outdoors working on her garden.
“Since my carpal tunnel surgery in August, my gardening days have slightly subsided; however, I do plan to continue working on it again as soon as I can, and until then my daughter comes over to maintain my garden for me,” she said.
Strupeck still drives and admits getting out and going to the grocery store still counts as a form of exercise.
And she influences others.
“Viola is truly a positive inspiration that age should never be a reason for slowing you down,” Vrotney said.