Retired P.E. reacher celebrates Physical Wellness Month, encourages others to stay active

Jean Kraemer, 85, a resident of Wheelock Terrace Assisted Living Community in Hanover and a retired physical education teacher, hasn’t stopped working to keep fit. She can be found rallying other residents during daily fitness classes.

HANOVER — Wheelock Terrace Assisted Living Community residents have been celebrating Physical Wellness Month in April, but for one retired teacher, physical wellness is her mantra all year long.

As a physical education teacher, Jean Kraemer spent decades teaching children the benefits of fitness and encouraging them to stay active. Today, she’s front and center at Wheelock Terrace’s fitness classes Mondays through Saturdays cheering on her peers. If the weather is nice, you can also catch her doing laps around the community.

“You can’t sit still too long, or you start to mold,” Kraemer said. “It’s easy to become isolated as we grow older, so it’s important to build a community and stay in constant contact.”

Even a short conversation with Kraemer makes it clear her sense of humor is sharp, says the staff at the community.

At 85, Kraemer works hard to stay active every day. She even starts the morning with toe exercises at the edge of her bed and shoulder rolls before getting her joints moving. She also has built her own community through her fitness class, which has enabled her to meet people she might never have interacted with. She is quick to rally others to stay active.

“When I go to bed at night, I ask myself, ‘Who did I help today? Who did I reach out to today?’ ” Kraemer said. “Once a teacher, always a teacher. Just because I’m retired, I’m not going to stop reaching out to people and trying to help. I love pushing people in class and seeing them take on a new challenge.”

Wheelock Terrace’s group fitness class focuses on strength building. Traditional exercises are modified so residents can stay seated while using bands, balls and weights. Technology also is used to help keep them active. A favorite of many is Wii bowling. Seniors also have chances to leave the community to golf, dance or swim, which is Kraemer’s favorite activity.

“This community loves Jean Kraemer. She’s become everyone’s teacher here at Wheelock Terrace. Whether she’s challenging others to push through fitness class or engaging the dinner table with her humor, she’s a great asset to all of us,” said Melissa Suckling, executive director of Wheelock Terrace. “Jean is constantly looking out for our other residents. I believe her passion and commitment to wellness and healthy living is a great reminder for all of us to stay active.”

Kraemer was born into a family of educators, as both of her parents were teachers. She followed in her father’s footsteps when she started teaching physical education.

In 1990, she was named “Elementary Teacher of the Year” by the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

For more about Wheelock Terrace, see its web page at www.terracecommunities.com.