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Working to keep seniors ‘strong, flexible and fit’

Sally Green is no pushover. The senior citizen can do pushups and a lot more as a certified coach and personal trainer, and as a physical education teacher.

The 66-year-old from Rockville is an instructor at Whitney Senior Center in St. Cloud and teaches weight-training techniques at the community center along Northway Drive.

“My motto is you are never too early or too late to pursue your health and fitness goals,” Green said, as she did a slow bicep curl with a pair of free weights in front of a mirror.

Her aim as an instructor is to keep those ages 55 and older “strong, flexible and fit” using free weights and the equipment at Whitney Senior Center’s fitness center.

“You’ll see guys in here weightlifting, but you won’t see the women in here weightlifting – and they don’t know how … they literally don’t know how,” she said.

“And men don’t really know how to lift weights. They’re doing it or have been doing it, but they’ve been doing it wrong; they just think they know how to do it the right way.”

Her husband, Les, works at St. Cloud State University, and she has two children, two stepchildren, and they recently adopted a foreign exchange student.

The former pool manager/aquatics director, swimming instructor and lifeguard has also coached sports and was a math teacher in the St. Cloud school district for 35 years.

“My big thing was swimming. I was the Apollo High School swim coach for the girls, so I was the varsity swim coach,” Green said of her background and work in education.

For the past several years, she has worked as a personal trainer and fitness instructor in addition to being a substitute teacher and a math tutor when she’s not at the senior center.

“In 1970, when I came to Apollo, there were no interscholastic sports for girls; we had basketball teams that couldn’t dribble because they had never played before,” she said.

“Those same women are now this age, and one of them in my weight-training class said ‘I’ve never been in a gym.’ She maybe sat in one, watching her kids, but never in one.”

Her weight-training sessions for older men and women are intended to develop strong muscles for balance as one ages so as to prevent fall-related injuries that are common.

“They come to me because they’ve told me that they know I won’t kill them with the weight-training sessions because I’m old, too,” Green said with a good-natured chuckle.

“I do tell them I will listen to their fears — not their excuses — about working out.”

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