I wrote this article which was published in The Mountain Democrat, Placerville’s newspaper in 2006.
Marching to her own beat, instructor encourages health for older women
Placerville Recreation and Parks instructor Jeannie Jorgensen teaches Weights and Stretch on Thursday evenings at 6 pm. Based on Miriam Nelson’s bestseller, Strong Women Stay Young, Jorgensen developed the class for students to improve energy, balance and flexibility and reverse bone loss. It’s the latest offering by the veteran instructor who has put her own stamp on classes for the past 22 years. Many have taken classes over the years from the upbeat teacher, but few know her history and what makes her classes special.
Prior to teaching aerobics, Jorgensen’s only exercise was carting her five kids all over the county for sports and cheerleading. Left with an empty nest after her youngest graduated from Ponderosa, Jorgensen tried a Jazzercise class at age 50. She hadn’t exercised since she was a ballerina, before she was married, and she found the music and movements exhilarating. She couldn’t get enough. At that time, Jazzercisers exercised barefoot on the concrete floor at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. Injuries followed and temporarily tabled Jorgensen’s newfound love.
Undaunted by the injuries, instead maybe inspired, Jorgensen researched safe exercises. She choreographed her own routines geared for people with weak backs, bad knees and other physical limitations. Inspired by Chris Downey, her Jazzercise instructor, Jorgensen offered a toned down class, Jazzed Fitness at Parks and Recreation. Then when step aerobics were initially created in the ‘80s to help strengthen weak knees, Jorgensen added bench steps to her repertoire. Her drive to create safe movements to music has often been validated by doctors and chiropractors referring students to her classes.
Her many years of physical fitness paid personal dividends beyond a fit and trim body. In 1998, when she tripped and broke both wrists, her orthopedist detected no osteoporosis. In fact, as a testament to her physical fitness and passion to teach, Jorgensen was back teaching in less than 2-1/2 months after two surgeries.
Now, at an age when most of her contemporaries have slowed down, Jorgensen continues to inspire students with her own beat, teaching Step Aerobics, an hour long cardio workout three times a week.
PS – Mom no longer teaches Weights & Stretch. Last year she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She took a couple months off, had some chemo and is back teaching step aerobics Monday, Wednesday & Friday!