Fitness has always been a priority in Case Van Herk’s life, so he wasn’t about to let that take a back seat when he and his wife Ann moved into Emmanuel Home.
“We swam and walked a lot and used to spend our winters south, where we swam every day,” the retired accountant recalls, looking back on a happily married life in which the couple raised their four boys.
With health problems persisting for Ann, the couple moved from their northeast Edmonton home into Emmanuel about 10 years ago. They enjoyed the place immediately, making new friends together. “They’re pretty good here about looking after you,” he says.
But life changed with Ann’s passing five years ago. Adjustment to the new reality of being a widower was challenging, but Case didn’t stop walking and staying fit. “Everyone knows me because I walk around the building,” Case says of his winter regime. “They say ‘Oh, there goes Case on his walk.’”
Like most people determined to maintain a healthy level of fitness, Case knew working out with a class is an effective motivator. So he became a regular at the Emmanuel fitness class, held four mornings a week. While the class once had a non-resident instructor, Case now, at age 89, finds himself leading the class.
“I think especially for us older people, it’s very good to exercise, not just to keep moving. It’s just something that I do and strongly believe in,” he says.
Attendance levels at the half-hour class vary, with just over a dozen regulars, but Case is understanding about those who miss classes from time to time. In fact, he seeks them out to find out why they didn’t show up. “I know often it’s just because they’re not feeling well.”
Some of the regulars at Case’s fitness classes are in their 90s. One attendee has Parkinson’s disease and exercise is important to his therapy. The routines are adapted to ensure everyone is able to participate. Of the dozen different exercises, all can be done sitting on chairs.
But the fitness class is only a warm up for Case, who gets his cardio levels up with a brisk walk around the neighbourhood. He aims for at least a 30-minute walk every day in an area he’s quite familiar with. He and Ann used to live about four kilometres away and attended Emmanuel Community Reformed Church.
With sons living in Morinville and Tofield and two in the United States, Case enjoys many visits and vacations with his clan of children and grandchildren. But he is content at Emmanuel Home, a place where he believes his love of fitness adds an important element to the health of the community.