86-year-old fitness instructor inspires others to keep going – Henry’s Club

Tulsa, Okla. The second Friday in January is known as “Quitter Day”, the day people are most likely to leave their New Year’s resolutions. If you’re considering making your own, Gerry Dunbar’s story might inspire you to move on.

You see, Gerry might be the daring, enthusiastic and oldest aerobics instructor in Oklahoma.

“I’m 86! It’s just a number,” says Gerry.

From pushups to planks, Geri is fitness inspiration.

“There’s no one like Gary. He’s a cutie; everyone loves him,” says class participant Vivian Howard.

Gerry started teaching in his 60s and has been going strong for 25 years. The only fitness break in this so-called ‘Energizer Bunny’ from the ’80s was taken years ago after a serious diagnosis. “During a routine check-up, doctors found a spot on one of my breasts. I said, okay, what are we going to do? He said let’s do a mastectomy. I had, and I had read in a month,” recalls Gerry.

Gerry begins each class with a prayer, grateful for his health and the health of his students. “Before the pandemic, I averaged 80-100 students, and one day I had 120 people in this gym,” she says.

The average of her classes is now around 50 due to the pandemic. Gerry says, “I don’t charge for this class. I do this because it is my heart. It fills me with joy.”

First United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow holds classes every weekday at 8:30-9:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Free classes aren’t just for seniors; They are open to all ages. The only thing Gerry asks is that all attendees get vaccinated. “We’re trying to protect ourselves, but also others,” Gerry says.

Gerry is not the only member of the family when it comes to fitness. Her 88-year-old husband Bill Dunbar is a former runner. “Up until about three years ago, I was doing Tulsa runs,” Bill says.

Now, Bill teaches a chair exercise class across the hall. “It’s the same time as this class, and it’s for people who can no longer do my class, not because of age, but physically. It’s also a place where you can sit and talk to someone.” …and that’s important,” says Gerry.

You see, what is happening here is more than just fitness; Life is changing even with friendship.

Vivian Howard says, “We started bunko groups; We have parties, we do all kinds of things together right now. If it weren’t for Gerry, I wouldn’t know 99% of these people.”

It’s a fitness community that’s making a lot of progress, thanks to an 86-year-old who never planned on acting his age.

For more information about the class and its location, click here.


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