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Workforce Wednesday: Older Learners Fitness program helps Paulette Moncure and Sherry Wagner stay active and healthy

Jan. 18, 2023, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Paulette Moncure used to wear a brace on her knee due to arthritis. Sherry Wagner has COPD and now breathes better. Both women credit, in part, staying active and moving as regular participants in Grand Rapids Community College’s Older Learner Fitness classes.

The programs are offered through GRCC Workforce Training and directed and taught by Lannie Collard, a GRCC instructor of Physical Fitness and Program Manager for the Older Learner Center.

“When I first started, I had to wear a knee brace to exercise and then Lannie gave me some leg exercises to do. After about 4-5 months, I don’t need to wear the brace anymore. It has increased my mobility,” Moncure said.

“Lannie is a great instructor and gives all of us individual attention. If you want her to help you with certain aches and pains she will. Lannie is a genuine, caring person - she inspires us all. Her excitement and passion spills into all of us. I have met new people and we have become a family. We all care about each other.”

Both women have recruited others to attend.

“I’m always telling others about the program,” said Wagner, who originally found the program online and reached out to Collard.

“I tell my friends, ‘Retirement is what you make of it.’ I chose to keep moving!”

In addition to the Strength and Stretch class, Collard also leads an Arthritis Foundation Aquatics program, and three other fitness classes specifically for older learners. 

Moncure participates in all of the classes she can, “I come to all the classes, water aerobics, and the stretch and flex, yoga -even when I’m out of town if it’s available on Zoom.”

Wagner doesn’t like to miss a class either, “I don’t want to disappoint Lannie so that motivates me to show up.”

Some classes are offered at the Tassell MTEC while others take place at the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse on the downtown campus. Neither women are intimidated by the parking downtown. According to Moncure, “The parking is not bad. Once you do it, it’s easy!”

Grants through the Kent County Senior Mileage and Older Americans Act assist in the costs of the programs and offer scholarships to individuals who may not be able to afford the cost.

Moncure said the cost should not be an excuse not to get moving.

“I like this program because I know some people who really can’t afford the fees but you can just give what you can afford. For people who are on a fixed income, it can be difficult to fit into a budget right away.”

Wagner added, “I started out with a scholarship because I just couldn’t afford it. Now I pay weekly and I feel good about it because that money can help another person come.”

For more information visit or call (616) 234-3800.


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