Tak­ing ex­er­cise to heart

The Covington News - - OPINION -

Nancy Schulz is many things to many peo­ple. We know her first and fore­most as Dis­trict 3 com­mis­sioner on the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers. The lone fe­male voice, she’s serv­ing her sec­ond four-year term.

She’s a wife, mother of two, and comptroller at The Oaks Golf Course, where she and hus­band Dick are ma­jor­ity part­ners. With a B.S. in nurs­ing and a master’s as a nurse prac­ti­tioner, she’s taught nurs­ing, but she’s also been a pub­lic health nurse for more than 30 years, 21 of them with the New­ton County Health Depart­ment in women’s health.

She is pas­sion­ate about pub­lic schools and in­tently fo­cused on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and strate­gic plan­ning at the com­mis­sion. She is fear­less when op­pos­ing what she be­lieves to be wrong poli­cies, even if she loses the ar­gu­ment.

But there’s some­thing more you may not know about this woman. She’s ad­dicted — to ex­er­cise, that is. She makes ac­tive ex­er­cise part of her sched­ule ev­ery sin­gle day that rolls around.

On Mon­days and Wed­nes­days, she works out with weights with trainer Jaime Robti­son at Square Fit. On Tues­days and Thurs­days, she takes bal­let lessons at the Cov­ing­ton Re­gional Bal­let. And she power-walks around town the other days with pal Bun­cie Lan­ners.

“We solve all the world’s prob­lems. It’s bet­ter than ther­apy,” she says with a laugh.

When work­ing at home, she sits on a bal­ance ball to strengthen her core and, thus, her bal­ance, in­creas­ingly im­por­tant as we age.

“It’s dan­ger­ous to sit more than two hours at a time,” she says.

“It can lead to cir­cu­la­tion prob­lems, di­a­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar is­sues. Be­ing seden­tary is the worst thing you can do to your­self.”

Schulz makes it a point to get up and move around once an hour, walk­ing up and down stairs, for ex­am­ple.

“I just don’t feel like my­self if I don’t ex­er­cise,” she con­tin­ues. “But when I do, I sleep bet­ter, I think bet­ter, and I’m hap­pier be­cause of all those en­dor­phins. I took a two-hour dance class last week, and when I fin­ished, I felt like I could take on the world! I felt younger and in­vig­o­rated and ex­hil­a­rated!”

Part of Schulz’s com­mit­ment to ex­er­cise is be­cause she’s been di­ag­nosed with os­teope- nia, com­mon to women as early as their 40s, a con­di­tion that leads to bone-thin­ning os­teo­poro­sis, with which her mother suf­fers. Weight-bear­ing ex­er­cise is the best way to pre­vent bone loss and weak­en­ing, she ex­plains.

But she was bit­ten by the ex­er­cise bug — specif­i­cally bal­let — at an early age in Nashville, Tenn., where she grew up. Her mother played the pi­ano for dance classes, so nat­u­rally Schulz ended up in the classes.

She even cher­ished the idea of a life in the per­form­ing arts un­til she was about 16. She tried out for parts at Opry­land, but the roles went mainly to tap dancers, and she wasn’t one.

Nev­er­the­less, she found bal­let classes wher­ever she and Dick moved, but took a few years off when her chil­dren were small. In a class at the Ruth Mitchell Dance Com­pany in At­lanta some years ago, she took inspiration from a for­mer pro­fes­sional bal­le­rina, who, at 68 years old, was still a stu­dent.

“I think about her all the time,” Schulz says.

On a Mon­day night, she is lined up at a dou­ble line of bal­let bar­res in a class­room where floorto-ceil­ing win­dows over­look the eastern side of the square. Mir­rors span one wall.

Schulz, the tall one with short, cropped blonde hair, is turned out just like her smaller class­mates, most of whose long locks are balled into tight knots at the tops of their heads.

They all wear leo­tards — black, navy or peri­win­kle — pink tights, and soft, flat bal­let shoes. Danc­ing is about dis­ci­pline as much as any­thing, and some of the 11 pre-teens work hard to avoid wig­gling and gig­gling. It takes fo­cus and at­ten­tion to hear the words of in­struc­tor Peter Swann over the din of mu­sic from another class­room.

The class be­gins with stretch­ing at the barre or on the floor. The stu­dents lean way over and reach past toes or an­gle them­selves into cat-like poses.

Schulz does a 180-de­gree bend from the waist that would make an Epis­co­pal pri­est pleased. She forces her­self down into a split on the floor that would im­press the Cirque du Soleil. At the barre, she stands ram­rod straight un­til Swann calls for a plié, a relevé, a demi-plié.

The fo­cus de­manded by the rou­tines is Sphinx­like, and for Schulz, the busi­ness­woman, nurse and elected of­fi­cial, it is stress-re­liev­ing to be able to think of noth­ing else but the mo­ment she is in.

Barbara Mor­gan is a Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent with a back­ground in news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, state govern­ment and pol­i­tics. She can be reached at barbm2158@gmail.com.

BARBARA MOR­GAN

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