See her new 'Curves' with weight loss

An area woman credits area gym's program to help her shed more than 40 pounds

An area woman credits area gym's program to help her shed more than 40 pounds

September 28, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

WILLIAMSPORT -- Barbara "Barb" Schildtknecht pulls the handles that's attached to weights, toward her chest, showing off some of the muscle definition in her upper arms.

It's obvious she's getting tired as she nears the end of her exercise circuit. There are a few more grunts than when she started.

There are also smiles and happy chatter with the other women working out.

After adopting a more regimented workout and food portion program in February, Schildtknecht, 68, of Williamsport, has lost more than 42 pounds, and it's been almost six months since she last needed a cane to get around.

"My cane's hanging in the closet. I don't need it anymore," she said.

"I've seen a big change," said Schildtknecht, who retired four years ago from The Bon Ton in Valley Mall, where she was a sales associate.


"It was after I retired that I realized I needed to do something for exercise," she said.

Schildtknecht credits a personalized workout program through Williamsport Curves and smarter eating habits.


Schildtknecht joined Curves almost four years ago, but it wasn't until Iffy Imarhiagbe bought the Williamsport Curves in January that Schildtknecht discovered she wasn't getting the best workout.

"I was going through the motions," Schildtknecht said.

Her previous workout left her feeling more energetic, but she wasn't losing weight or toning up.

Imarhiagbe encouraged Schildtknecht to not just work out on the machines and recovery boards, but to follow a personalized program called CurvesSmart.

Through CurvesSmart, a woman's strength and range of motion are assessed, as well as her health history. The information is used to create a specific workout in which the computerized strength-training machines can signal a woman to let her know when she's reached her goal on that machine. A keycard, similar to one used for supermarket discount clubs, is used to inform the machine of who is using it and what is that person's maximum workout threshold or goal.

When Schildtknecht has been working out on a machine for a while and the light turns orange on the readout, she knows to slow or cool down. When the light disappears, she moves to the next station in the circuit.

The circuit at Williamsport Curves consists of 15 strength-training machines and 15 recovery boards on which women do various aerobic exercises.

Schildtknecht also is getting the workout for free since May, thanks to Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program.

The program provides free access to a participating fitness center for people who are Medicare-eligible and have a secondary health plan that participates in the program. For more information about the program, go to .

People who want to join SilverSneakers have to get a form approved by their doctor, Imarhiagbe said. Imarhiagbe also recommends that clients who have a medical issue check with their doctor before beginning a workout program.

Portion control

The other part of Schildtknecht's fitness regiment is eating smarter.

In February, a nutritionist presented a food management class for Curves members, encouraging the women to share recipes and ideas, Schildtknecht said.

Schildtknecht said her husband, Donnie, has been extremely supportive. In addition to his own workouts, he agreed to the same meal plan.

"If it's going to help her, we were going to do it," said Donnie Schildtknecht.

For breakfast, Barb Schildtknecht often has a sunny-side up egg, a 2-ounce turkey sausage patty, half of an English muffin with a tablespoon of sugar-free jam, and a mix of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

For lunch, the couple always eats a salad Schildtknecht created that contains vegetables, fruits, bran cereal and light ranch dressing.

For dinner, they eat 4 ounces of grilled meat, either lean ground beef, lean boneless pork loin, chicken thighs or chicken breasts. Plus they eat a vegetable.

In the evening they have a snack, either sugar-free Jell-O with some grated cabbage mixed in, or a rice cake topped with natural peanut butter.

"I don't go over 1,500 calories a day," said Schildtknecht. That's even true when she and Donnie treat themselves once a month to ice cream at Dairy Queen.

They're eating more healthful, but they're also eating smaller portions.

Schildtknecht maintains a daily journal of what she eats.

"We never realized how much food we were eating," she said.


Schildtknecht said she didn't just lose weight, but also gained muscle and strength.

Schildtknecht's arthritis in her back, knees and feet was so bad that she often used a cane or leaned on her husband when shopping because she was afraid she'd fall.

She met her initial goal: to lose 30 pounds in time for a July trip to visit her daughter's family in Michigan. She lost more than 32 pounds before she left.

"They absolutely could not believe it when I stepped out of that car," Schildtknecht recalled.

Where some people might have changed their eating and workout habits after losing a significant amount of weight, Imarhiagbe said Schildtknecht hasn't changed those new, healthier habits.

Schildtknecht can notice the effects and not just from the absence of the cane.

When she cleaned the house before, she would have to rest in between vacuuming each room. Now she does the whole house without a break.

During her trip to Michigan, she played badminton for the first time in about 35 years.

"I just feel my body is more agile," though Schildtknecht said she still gets tired at times.

"I'm not done," Schildtknecht said.

She thinks she can reach her goal weight of 135 pounds by February. She weighed approximately 170 pounds a week ago.

"I feel so much better," Schildtknecht said.

Schildtknecht encourages other older women to get into shape. "They shouldn't give up," she said.

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