Local exercise, dance instructor: ‘It’s going to keep you young’

Davis’ group at the senior center Oct. 5 included Phyllis Borgstrom, Barb Kirk, Geri Roll, Shirley Carlson, Gladys Enzenauer, Joanne Sybrant, Annie Gamache and Millie Lemay. 
Photo supplied
Connie Davis teaching a dance class in the 1980s. 
Davis smiles as she shows a group of senior ladies some dance moves at the Rush City Senior Center Oct. 5.
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Davis’ group at the senior center Oct. 5 included Phyllis Borgstrom, Barb Kirk, Geri Roll, Shirley Carlson, Gladys Enzenauer, Joanne Sybrant, Annie Gamache and Millie Lemay. Photo supplied

Connie Davis has a 30-year-old photo of herself; in it she’s wearing black leggings, white shoes, white legwarmers, white wrist bands and a shirt that has “Exercise Studio” written on the front.
Davis’ passion for exercise and dance began when that getup was in style and continues to this day.
She was a model in her youth, and then in the late 1970s she began teaching a Wendy Ward Charm School at a Montgomery Ward store in Blaine’s Northtown Mall.

“We brought the first exercise with music in; we were on the Nancy Nelson Show doing some exercise to music, and everybody just thought, ‘Oh, my, that looks like fun,’” Davis said.

Davis said she’s been certified in aerobics through a number of different companies, and she even once met Jack LaLanne in California in the 1980s. LaLanne lived to be 96 years old and was known as “The Godfather of Modern Fitness.”

“The Post Review actually had a picture of me and Jack LaLanne together in 1988 when I was teaching (fitness) classes over at Hair Design in North Branch,” Davis said.

Favorite fitness memories
Davis, a 40-year resident of the Rush City area, said she’s thoroughly enjoyed meeting people through teaching dance fitness classes over the years. She’s taught tambourine, Jewish dance and spiritual dance at area churches, she was employed by Plastech Corporation in Rush City for a time in the late 1980s to early 1990s to teach a corporate wellness aerobics program, and she ensured a group of North Branch teachers stayed in shape during the 1990s.

“This was at the grade school,” Davis said. “Don Hartzell was the principal. Everybody knows Don. We’d lock the gym doors so nobody could see us. We’d really just let loose. We had to get rid of the stress. I think it was the healthiest thing for them.”

Davis said the group of teachers would play tricks on her, but it was all in good fun.

“I’d be up there doing my thing, and then I’d turn around, and I’d be like, ‘Where’d you guys go?’ They’d be all laughing out in the hallway, and then they’d come back in. They just all did all sorts of fun stuff to me. They were just fun.”

Davis said she made a pact with the teachers prior to the start of her classes.

“We would all raise our right hands and go, ‘What goes on in here we vow not to tell anyone else,”’ she said, laughing. “We would do all kinds of dances to all kinds of music back then, and we just had a ball. They left all sweaty, with towels.”

Continuing classes
Davis, now 68 years old, said she wants to keep moving and sharing her love of fitness with anyone who has some time to take one of her classes. She focuses now on low-impact exercise for different ages and fitness levels. Thursday of last week at the Rush City Community Center, she was working with a group of senior ladies on light aerobics and weight lifting.

“The music I have for the seniors is their music,” she said. “It’s Glen Miller — all the good ones. They actually sing with the class. They’ll sing with the songs, and pretty soon they don’t even realize they’re exercising. They start talking back and forth. It’s just so fun.”

Starting Thursday, Davis will be teaching a new 5-week aerobics class at the Rush City High School Theater. It runs 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 and 26, Nov. 2, 9, and 16. The cost is $40. Anyone who wants to register can call Carrie at 320-358-4795. There’s a 10 person minimum for the class, 20-person maximum.

Davis said she thanks God for everything she has, which includes her health.

“If you can dance and you love music, it’s going to keep you young,” she said. “It’s just a passion for life.”

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