Still Going Strong
By Jeremy Brown
Loretta Whipple has been a member at Club Fit for four decades, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
During the 1970s, while attending graduate school at West Conn, Loretta Whipple struck up a conversation with her professor about their extracurricular activities. The professor told her he was a member of Club Fit in Jefferson Valley and waxed rhapsodic about racquetball. Whipple was immediately intrigued. “I investigated it,” she said, “and joined up with a group of ladies who played racquetball there, loved it, and stayed with it for many years.”
Whipple started playing racquetball at Club Fit back in the days when there were still eight courts available and she and her husband quickly became very involved in the sport. “We soon got wrapped up in racquetball and played frequently,” said Whipple.
An active traveler and adventurer who has visited all 50 states, Whipple came to Yorktown from the small farming town of Peabody, Kansas. “I was a farm girl,” she recalled. “After school, I went home and gathered eggs, fed the chickens, milked the cows, all those sorts of things.” When she arrived in Yorktown and began teaching 5th grade at Crompond School. Whipple made sure to bring a little bit of her hometown with her. “Kansas’s birthday was always a special day in the class,” she said. “And for a number of years, I actually made a sheet cake in the shape of Kansas and decorated it with products or towns related to the state. It was always a special day!”
Whipple’s impact as a teacher was strong enough that remains in touch with three of her students who had her as a teacher back in 1966. “That was 52 years ago and today they’re getting ready to retire! As a teacher, that’s one thing that’s a lot of fun, to see students that I’ve had through the years come over and say, ‘Do you remember me, Mrs. Whipple?’ It’s nice that they acknowledge some of the things that we have interesting conversations about their lives today.
Although she retired in 2000 after nearly 40 years on the job, Whipple continued her adventurous ways. That same year, she and her husband, Fred, made the journey all the way to Churchill, Manitoba to view polar bears in their natural habitat. “We took a lot of pictures of the polar bears on the tundra,” she recalled. “And then I came back and went to different classes and made presentations with the pictures that we’d taken. It was a lot of fun!”
Today, Whipple remains as active as ever. She and her husband visit Club Fit three times a week, and more in the winter months. “We love the variety of programs,” she said. “They have the swimming pool, they have racquetball, they have tennis. They have so many different types of classes, from spinning to yoga and many others. Club Fit is a family-oriented club, but they also have programs for seniors and programs for teenagers. They appeal to a wide variety of people and it’s very exciting to be a part of that.”
During their visits to the gym, Whipple’s husband tends to work out in the aquatics center, while she herself takes classes or works with a personal trainer. “It’s just something that’s a part of our life,” she said. “It’s never a case of our feeling lethargic or saying, ‘We’re too tired to go today.’ Having the space in our day to go to the gym is just something that’s always there and we do it often!”
This sense of staying healthy and active is something that’s important to Whipple and something that she hopes other people take seriously. “There are a lot of people that don’t feel like they have the time to develop an interest in going to the gym,” she said. “Age is a factor that diminishes your agility, your flexibility, your balance. So when you’re participating in activities and having the help of the personal trainers, exercise really makes a difference in people’s lives. It keeps you healthy mentally as well as physically. I think it’s important, that’s the bottom line!”