Fresh Ideas: 25 years and going strong, thanks to the Sweat Shop |

Fresh Ideas: 25 years and going strong, thanks to the Sweat Shop

Ursula Carlson
For the Nevada Appeal

About 25 years ago I began attending Jerry Vance’s Sweat Shop classes at the Community Center. As I remember it, what prompted me to seek out her class was the sudden, shocking awareness that my upper arms looked unpleasantly flabby in a snapshot my cousin Renate had taken of me holding my young son Sev in my lap. “Oh no,” I recall thinking, “I’ve reached the point of no return.”

It’s not as if I hadn’t been warned. My mother, the original physical fitness promoter, had already pointed out that I had reached the age when my metabolism was going to slow down.

I’d have to change my eating habits and exercise more if I wanted to keep wearing my old clothes. Clearly, there was no time to lose. In those days, it was possible to go to Jerry’s classes seven days a week, and I went every single day.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that those classes changed my life.

A bookworm by inclination, self-conscious and envious of my mother’s physical prowess all my life, I discovered I couldn’t get enough of exercise. I began feeling as if I were lighter than air.

I’d be at the grocery store when an “exercise song” came on and I’d find myself pushing Sev in the cart as I bounced, hopped and danced down one aisle after another.

Excited, I called my mother in Michigan and described each exercise: the warm-ups, the aerobic dancing, the strengthening exercises on the floor; the stretches. She confirmed my own judgment: Jerry had a superb program.

Together, Mother and I would do the exercises while on the telephone. When Mother and Father came to visit us here in Nevada, Mother came to exercise class with me.

In the summers I’d go back to Michigan and go to whatever aerobics classes I could find. Nothing was as comprehensive and effective as Jerry’s workouts. As the years went by and I began teaching full time at the college, my schedule didn’t always allow attending classes when I wanted, so I signed up at a gym, too. For me, it was money wasted: I spent more and got less.

The exercise classes did and do more than make me physically fit. I have made life-long friends, am mentally energized, emotionally balanced, and generally just plain happy.

What makes this physical fitness program unique?

No gimmicks. It’s been a proven, successful program since 1974. I can not imagine Carson City without it. Those of us who have become lifelong members can all say with pride: “Body by Jerry.”

• Ursula Carlson, Ph.D., teaches literature and writing at Western Nevada College.