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Fitness instructor, 80, inspiring the young

Christa Walters gracefully lowered herself until she was parallel with the Peosta Community Centre floor and her back was as flat as a board.

The women around Walters, willing participants in the recent workout session, groaned in pain. But they knew the more they complained, the longer they would have to hold the position.

For the past nine years, Walters has been instructing a “Get Fit” workout class Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the community center. And although she recently celebrated her 80th birthday, she has no plans to slow down or retire from her weekly exercise routine.

“(Class participants) said, ‘Christa if you quit, we are coming to your house,'” Walters said. “I don’t feel my age. I don’t feel 80. It’s just a number.”

Walters said she always has loved working out.

Growing up in Mannheim, Germany, she practiced ballet regularly. But after she married Ronald, who served in the U.S. Army, she moved to Guttenberg, Iowa, and discarded her old pointe shoes in favor of running shoes. She also set up a workout area in the basement of their home.

When she moved to Dubuque 12 years ago, she began taking classes at the Peosta Community Centre. She later was approached by her instructor, who asked her to begin teaching classes at the facility.

“She said, ‘Christa you are the only one I can think of that can do that,'” Walters said. “I always exercised. It was nothing new to me, but telling people what to do was.”

When it came to learning about different workout routines and stretches, Walters used the same method she used in the past to learn English. Specifically, she watched TV and read.

Walters’ class has 12 to 14 regular members who attend every week. But sometimes the class overflows with walk-ins and she has to move over to the gym, she said.

Alaine Jamison, 66, of Bernard, said she has been attending Walters’ class for more than two years. She said Walters’ dedication inspires her.

The majority of regular members in Walters’ class are more than 60 years old, but it is not just a class for seniors. It’s open to everyone.

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