My Fitness Journey-Karen Poljanac

Being 26 years old and having 2 children (within 19 months) I had unwanted (clear throat) baby-fat and was interested in the new Richard Simmon’s Anatomy Asylum that had opened in Southgate. There was baby-sitting available and they took children 6 months and up. This was awesome! There was aerobic classes, which I knew nothing about, so I started in the OWA class (OverWeighters Aiders). Can you believe the name of that class?!?

I was never athletic in high school, I was part of the group of students that enjoyed having fun, so doing this was a big step in itself. I asked my husband if I could join. He rolled his eyes and agreed that after a few classes, I would be done with the entire thing. I surprised everyone including myself. I stuck with it!

As I continued to attend classes, I became friends with all of the instructors. Richard Simmons ended up closing his facilities, so a group of us rented space in the Zodiac Racquetball facility for morning exercise classes. One day before a class, the instructor for the day, Beth, had told me she had just gotten into a car accident with her 3 young children in the car, and was to shaken-up to teach. I had been a student of hers for a few years, and knew her routines and style. Beth asked me if I would teach the class. I was shocked! She assured me, everyone in class knew both of us, and wouldn’t mind. Back then we had long play vinyl albums (you guys remember those), and we had to pick an individual album for each section of the class, cardio (multiple records) upper body, lower body etc! Definitely not like it is today.I taught the class. It actually was a good one (I'm not just saying that)! It was fun, but being shy, it was very much out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed myself though! Fast forward a few months, and a new gym opened in Woodhaven, Robs Gym for Women Only. A friend of mine was the only instructor there. She told me to go “try out” for the evening classes. She gave me music; I went there, and nailed it...again. The male manager (who didn't even see my class) offered me whatever I wanted to teach.

How about that! I am teaching fitness classes, without any real training other than being a faithful student of about 3 years. I wanted to be legit though, so I found a class at Henry Ford Community College named: "Methods of Teaching Aerobic Dance," which used the manual of IDEA, (International Dance Exercise Association); a certification organization. What a great way to get in-depth training, I thought. Since I had decided I was going to do this, I felt I should find out what the class entailed. I took the class. After about 5 classes in I found my rhythm and was almost done with it when my father had a heart attack. He needed help afterwards, so I dropped the class. I continued to study on my own, and took the 3 hour test. I passed it the first time! Which was a great accomplishment of mine. That organization eventually morphed into ACE, American Council on Exercise. A very well-known and respected certification organization. I also hold a group fitness certification, aquatics certifications as well as holding a brown belt in Isshin-ryu Karate.

I have been exercising consistently since 1984 (Let me take that back), except when a surgery wouldn’t allow.

If someone would have told me what I would be doing today, I would have laughed hysterically. "Karen Poljanic teaching group fitness, for 30+ years??!??" NEVER!!!

Teaching fitness and exercise has allowed me to have a great part time job. It has also allowed me to meet the most amazing teachers and students, that have become lifelong friends. I am blessed to have students’ follow me to various locations for over 30 years, and I have been to a few:

  • Robs Gym for Women only

  • Downriver Racquetball

  • Taylor Recreation Center

  • City of Allen Park,

  • Romulus Athletic Center

  • RenCen

  • Cadillac Factory

  • Lastly my current home at Exersthetic Evolution.

This fitness life has been such a blessing. Students may say, "I give to them," but they give back much more than any of them realize! I have seen fads come and go; students come and go, but people involved in some type of fitness program understand what a good workout can give you:

  • better health

  • physical appearance

  • peace of mind

I currently have materials to study for my personal training certification. I have been slow to get serious and actually study. At 61 years old, studying doesn’t come as easy as it once did! One day I will have "trainer" behind my name! you never know where life is going to take you!

Thanks to my mentors, students and friends for sticking with me. It’s been a pleasure and still is!

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