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Three years ago, Mahomet resident Brundy Marron never could've imagined that someday she would go kayaking.
At that time, she was undergoing extensive therapy after being hospitalized with severe gallbladder problems, relearning how to walk and even eat. Since that time, she's lost about 140 pounds and gained the confidence to get out and try new things—like kayaking.
"I'm 70 years old, and I never ever thought that I would do it," said Marron, who has a pacemaker and two knee replacements.
Marron went kayaking this summer at the prompting of Brenda Vogen, a circuit trainer at Curves in Mahomet. She knew that Marron had good upper-body strength thanks to her workouts, and thought she might benefit from trying something new.
"I wasn't sure she would do it," Vogen said—but then she got a phone call from Marron, saying that she was willing to try.
The pair headed out to Riverbend Forest Preserve and Marron got her first paddling lesson. Although she didn't have much experience with rowing, it wasn't too challenging.
"I've been coming to Curves so much, it was like a workout," Marron said.
She had joined Curves several times before in her quest to lose weight, but became committed to the program after her health scare three years ago. She changed her lifestyle, taking a hard look at her habits. These days she eats little meat, relying on eggs and other sources for protein, and avoids grocery store aisles with treats she knows will tempt her.
She works out at Curves, walks her pet pugs three times a day, and is preparing for her first 5K walk this fall.
"I'm afraid of where I'd be if I didn't come here three times a week," she said.
Now, Marron has inspired other Curves clients to experience kayaking. Vogen has a list of seven or eight other ladies who want to go out on the water. This past Saturday, Curves hosted a gathering at Riverbend at which five other Curves clients got into a kayak for the first time.
When she saw photos from Marron's kayak outing, Royalene Toombs, 83, decided to give it a try for herself.
"Brundy went first, so I said to myself, 'If she can do it, I can do it,'" she said.
She'd seen pictures of her kids kayaking in Colorado and thought she might try the sport for herself—albeit on a calmer body of water than the western rapids.
"My kids think 83 is old, and it is, in comparison to them," Toombs said. "But I don't feel 83—I still feel like I'm 16 or so."
Vogen said that it's never too late to try new things, and that drawing support and inspiration from others is helpful in keeping active and fit.
"Any opportunity we have to build each other up is precious," she said.