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Peggy Jenssen - 2013 Spirit of Wellness Honoree

Doing Pilates at the age of 100 is a lofty goal for anyone, but that’s just what 87-year-old CHF member Peggy Jenssen sees in her future – and she doesn’t plan on letting anything get in her way.

“I’ll never stop doing Pilates,” says Peggy. Five years and a few extensive spinal surgeries later, her goal is still well within reach.

Peggy is a prime example of the healthy lifestyle that the South Bay is known for.   It was during her childhood in the South Bay that Peggy really began establishing her active lifestyle – running, swimming and taking home blue ribbons at school-wide athletic competitions.

“I’ve maintained my active lifestyle because I’ve been dedicated to exercise my whole life,” says Peggy.  “I’ve been a runner and a swimmer since I was a young girl, and I remain committed to keeping myself healthy.”

Much of her incredible physical fitness also stems from her strong work ethic and can-do attitude.

“When I make up my mind that I’m going to do something, I follow through,” says Peggy.

In addition to her physically active lifestyle, Peggy is quite disciplined when it comes to eating.  She sticks to a Mediterranean diet, and focuses on the nutritional value of her meals.

Despite her active lifestyle, Peggy was diagnosed with Osteoporosis and Scoliosis at age 70.  Her spine curved so badly that it was pulling her hips out of alignment, robbing her of the ability to even stand up straight. 

“My posture was getting worse and worse, and working out didn’t seem to help,” says Peggy.  “I was doing weights and aerobics, but nothing really improved my posture.”

Peggy was not deterred. She decided to become a member at CHF and enrolled in Pilates and personal training.

“I remember my trainer would try and have me stand up straight, and I’d kind of laugh,” says Peggy.  "I tell him there’s no way I’m going to stand up straight.”

But Peggy didn’t stop challenging herself.  Instead, she turned her attention to Pilates.

“They had a senior Pilates class, but I didn’t enroll in that one,” says Peggy. “I tried the general class, and after my first session, I asked the instructor if I did well enough to stay in the non-senior class. And she told me I did.”

Fifteen years later, Peggy is still in that class.

“A lot of my improvement is due to attitude,” says Peggy.  “I always stay positive.”

In late 2011, Peggy’s inspirational attitude and hard work was rewarded with some good news.  Generally someone 85 years of age is not an ideal candidate for spinal surgery, but Peggy’s doctors established that Peggy was surprisingly physically fit and could withstand the corrective procedure.

“I was able to pass the treadmill and the EKG, and my blood flow was much better than the average person’s,” says Peggy.  “My doctor told me, ‘I’ve never met anyone like you.’  I said, ‘Is that good or bad?’ It was good, and he gave me the green light for sugery.”

The procedure was a success and Peggy’s posture was greatly improved.  She recovered very well and immediately got back in the CHF Pilates room. 

“I got the go-ahead from my doctor continue Pilates as long as I don’t twist, and my instructor, Jaime, has been wonderful in adapting the class so I can still do it,” says Peggy.

Today, Peggy remains a staple member of CHF, and her posture has improved drastically. In fact, CHF front desk supervisor, Patty Sclimenti, says, “I didn’t even recognize her at first.  She stands much straighter and looks absolutely fantastic.”

If Peggy’s track record of mental toughness, positivity and follow-through is any indication, you better believe she’ll be the first and only 100-year-old to take a CHF Pilates class pretty soon.