Weightlifting Restored My Life

Ruth Gruber (85-year-old retiree)

I am a Holocaust survivor. For the past twenty years, I have been a widow. I am the mother of three children, the grandmother of five, and the great-grandma of one (which I never thought I would live to see). I have been independent all my life. Until five years ago, I drove my own car and took care of my own house.

But then acid reflux in my esophagus put me in the hospital. I couldn't breathe and felt I was going to die from choking when the stomach acid got into my lungs. The doctors performed emergency surgery, and after that I was unconscious for eleven days. Then I spent six weeks in intensive care.

When I was back home, months later, I was still so weak and unstable that I had to hold on to something, or someone's arm, whenever I tried to walk. On top of that, my lower back hurt more than ever.

I also couldn't drive a car anymore or take care of my house, so my family decided to move me to a retirement home. Needless to say, my life changed drastically for the worse. I started to gain weight and was totally apathetic. My life didn't belong to me anymore because physically I couldn't handle it.

But then one day, my son Martin asked me if I would like to exercise to get my strength back. He said that one of his Happy Body coaches could come work with me. I didn't think anything could help, but I agreed to try.

A few days later, I met Aniela, and she started me on a twice-a-week exercise program. It was very difficult for me at first, but Aniela was patient, adapting the exercises to what I could handle. In addition, she advised me, on days that she wasn't there, to swim a little and do slow ten-minute walks outside.

Now, three years later, at 85, I have lots of energy to enjoy life. I love playing bingo and knitting and crocheting things for my friends and family. Most important, I don't need a cane anymore, I go out on field trips, and I feel strong. I do sit-ups, leg lifts, and squats. I can bend over and touch the floor-that's how flexible I am!

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