HER Fit­ness

Fit­ness ex­per t uses nat­u­ral ap­proach to reach per­sonal goals

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Con­tents - By Grace Brown

E xperts say an ac­tive life­style is es­sen­tial to a long and healthy life. Just ask cer­ti­fied phys­i­cal fit­ness spe­cial­ist Sharon Tur­ren­tine. At 72, she is still on top of her fit­ness goals and helps oth­ers reach theirs through weekly “health hikes” at Gar­van Wood­land Gar­dens.

Tur­ren­tine, a for­mer body­builder and hon­orary chair­man of the Louisiana Gov­er­nor’s Coun­cil on Phys­i­cal Fit­ness and Sports, has a long his­tory in the fit­ness in­dus­try. Her life­long goal has been help­ing women shape their ideal bod­ies, with­out gain­ing too much mus­cle. It all be­gan in 1980 when she was watch­ing the first Ms. Olympia body­build­ing com­pe­ti­tion and eat­ing a frozen Snick­ers bar.

“I had never ex­er­cised be­fore, but I turned to my hus­band any­way and told him I was go­ing to do that,” she said. That was at 36, the age when many women ex­pe­ri­ence a down­ward spi­ral in their physique. Sharon was de­ter­mined to turn her life around, and the next day she went to the gym.

She main­tained a strict reg­i­men she de­vel­oped her­self, and even­tu­ally, she started en­ter­ing body­build­ing com­pe­ti­tions. When she be­gan to no­tice the sport was tak­ing a di­rec­tion she didn’t agree with, she stopped com­pet­ing and be­gan train­ing oth­ers.

While com­pet­ing, Tur­ren­tine no­ticed in­for­ma­tion per­tain­ing to women’s fit­ness was sparse. She wanted to stream­line the jour­ney to achiev­ing healthy body goals by cre­at­ing a de­tailed and easy to fol­low man­ual. She hand­crafted an en­tire pro­gram around her per­sonal jour­ney and re­search and mar­keted it to women from ages 14

to 81. She calls it a soft ap­proach to a hard body.

“If you can con­trol your per­sonal level of fit­ness, then you can con­trol other as­pects of your life you wouldn’t even imag­ine pos­si­ble,” she said.

To­day, Tur­ren­tine is an avid vol­un­teer at Gar­van Wood­land Gar­dens. Each Mon­day morn­ing, for the past four years, Sharon meets a group in the vis­i­tor’s cen­ter at Gar­van, and they de­part for their hike at 9 a.m. sharp.

Sharon is ex­tremely fa­mil­iar with the gar­dens, hav­ing been hik­ing there for the past 25 years. Each week, she takes the group on a dif­fer­ent path, of vary­ing dif­fi­culty, for an hour­long hike.

It isn’t un­com­mon for her to lead the group on one of the lesser-known routes in the gar­den. She was among the first to walk many of the trails as they were created.

“(The dif­fi­culty) re­ally just de­pends on who shows up; I can make it a killer hike if I want,” said Tur­ren­tine. Her goal is to get the group’s blood pump­ing, but not so much that you can’t chat.

“We have a re­ally good time. Right now things are bloom­ing every­where; it’s gor­geous,” she said. The hikes take place al­most all year ‘round, rain or shine, ex­cept in July and Au­gust when the hikes are can­celed to avoid the ex­treme heat.

Lynda Kass has been hik­ing with Tur­ren­tine’s group for nearly three years with her dog. “Sharon is just a lovely lady, and the group is great. (There is) al­ways some­thing won­der­ful hap­pen­ing at the gar­dens,” said Kass. She found out about the hikes in the Gar­van Gar­den’s news­let­ter and has been hik­ing ever since. Even when she can’t make it some­one in the group of­fers to walk her stan­dard poo­dle, Syd­ney.

The group’s size varies each week — some­times it’s just one per­son, and other times there can be up to 19. The group is very invit­ing and will make you feel like you’ve been hik­ing with them for months. Peo­ple are en­cour­aged to wear ath­letic cloth­ing and no flip-flops. The gar­den’s va­ri­ety of ter­rain re­quires some agility, and im­proper footwear can cause prob­lems.

The hikes take place ev­ery Mon­day morn­ing at 9 a.m. sharp un­til July. Ad­mis­sion to the gar­dens is $15 for non­mem­bers and $10 for ca­nine com­pan­ions. If you’re look­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to reach your fit­ness goals, the first step can very well start here.

Brodie Wol­sten­holme, left, Karen Wol­sten­holme, Sharon Tur­ren­tine, in­struc­tor, and Carol Mor­gan.

Left: Ad­vanced health hikes in­struc­tor Sharon Tur­ren­tine, left, leads a group in­clud­ing Carol Mor­gan, sec­ond from left, and Sheila Moore down a path at Gar­van Wood­land Gar­dens dur­ing a hike. Above: Ad­vanced health hik­ers Sheila Moore, left, Julie Nix, Peggy Holt and David Tur­ren­tine.

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