Participant Stories

SAIL Class Participant Says She Will Take the Class Forever

7/9/2024

“Between the class and walking two days a week, I’ve been able to keep my diabetes under control and keep my A1C under seven. I feel strong, and I have the energy to care for my grandchildren and drive them to their activities. I’m pretty sure I also inspired their parents to exercise!”

Karel Odegard exercising in front of her television

Karel Odegard just finished her last Juniper’s Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) class for the summer and is ready to register for the next round. At age 70, she says she has increased her energy, flexibility, and strength, greatly reducing her chances of falling. “When I trip, lose my balance, and start falling, I catch myself,” Karel says confidently. “I’m very aware of where my feet are at all times, especially when walking up and down stairs.”

Juniper’s SAIL class is a strength, balance and fitness program for adults 65 and older. Performing exercises that improve strength and balance is the single most important activity adults can do to prevent falls. There are 24 SAIL classes over a period of eight weeks, and Karel noticed immediate improvement. “By the end of my first session, I could feel the difference in my strength and flexibility. No question. As the class went on, I realized that if I push myself, I make progress; if I don’t, I maintain my strength. 

Karel OdegardIncorporating active movement into her everyday life is another outcome of SAIL classes and a priority for Karel. She was just 38 years old when she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “It was hard to fit exercise into my already crammed-full day when I was working full-time and raising kids,” she explains. “When I retired four years ago, I set a goal to prioritize exercise in my life so I could stay healthy and strong for myself and my grandchildren.” The goal led Karel to the Fergus Falls YMCA Foundation, where she learned about Juniper’s SAIL class and the opportunity to take it online.

“I barely brush my hair and head to the television to prepare for class!” With the help of her much-appreciated tech-savvy son-in-law, Karel simply logs on to class on her phone and casts (projects) it onto her television screen, making it easy to see SAIL instructor Yvonne Hanley. Now in her 3rd year of taking the class three days a week, Karel says she can’t live without it. “Between the class and walking two days a week, I’ve been able to keep my diabetes under control and keep my A1C under seven,” she says. “I feel strong, and I have the energy to care for my grandchildren and drive them to their activities. I’m pretty sure I also inspired their parents to exercise!”

Karel OdegardKarel is grateful for her SAIL class. “I’m not as afraid of falling because I feel confident that I can catch myself, and if I do fall, my muscles are strong, making it less likely that my bones will crack. I can see the toned muscles in my arms. I’ve never had that before.”

Karel feels comfortable in the online class and likes that people can be as social as they choose. “If you want to chat before and after class, you can; if you don’t, that’s okay, too. Some of us went out to an event together one night, and it was fun!”

Losing weight and staying active is keeping Karel’s diabetes in check. “I’m so grateful SAIL is there for me. It’s been a game-changer.”


 

To find a Juniper’s Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) class and learn about other classes available through the Juniper network, go to the home page of yourjuniper.org and click on Find a Class.

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