Burning calories, toning muscles and having fun, women follow the lead of Fitness Together instructor Carmen Hemrick, 55, as she energetically dances on tile floor at Christ the King Episcopal Church.

Three times a week, Hemrick volunteers her time by offering hour-long aerobic classes for young adults and seniors at the church. Classes include zumba, cardio kickboxing, weight training, yoga and step aerobics. Joann Parrish, who has attended for the past two years, likes how the class is both about exercising and socializing.

“We all follow this woman because she is very fun, she changes up the music and we don’t ever play the same one twice,” said Parrish. “You’re not going to ever be bored.”

Hemrick has been a nationally certified aerobics instructor for 29 years. She started by teaching at Pio Decimo Center, moved to the YMCA and in 2000 opened up her own business of Fitness ABC, which was later changed to Fitness Together. Although owning her own business has its perks, Hemrick eventually found that volunteering her time to serve the community and others worked best.

“This is more relaxing for me and I’m able to enjoy it more because I’m not having to worry about cleaning or the overhead,” said Hemrick. “This is a passion and I’m totally good with just doing this.”

Above everything though, Hemrick’s sees aerobics as an easy, fun way to stay healthy.

“If we’re sedentary we’re not going to function well when we get older,” said Hemrick. “When you start exercising with other people you find friends. It’s a social outlet as well as a physical outlet.”

The aerobics classes are for young adults and seniors. Whether they are just beginning or advanced – all are welcome. The atmosphere here is very non-intimidating said, Hemrick, who also pointed out that having no mirrors in the room helps people avoid being critical of themselves.

Currently, Hemrick offers two classes. The first is Cardio Blast, which includes zumba, step aerobics, kickboxing, weight training and yoga. The class runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. The second class is called Easy Does It, which runs from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. This class implements cardio, strength work and mat work done on a chair. 

“If I wasn’t doing this I wouldn’t have the flexibility, the strength and the balance,” said Susan Morris. “I actually have a slight bicep curl.”

New members receive their first week free. After that, members pay a monthly charge of $25 for unlimited classes. Christ the King Episcopal Church is located on 2800 W. Ina Road.

Also included with the classes are monthly luncheons where the women are encouraged to come and fellowship together. Birthdays are often celebrated and ever so often Hemrick hands out awards. 

“This is my ministry,” said Hemrick. “The satisfaction of seeing how much they grow is really exciting. I’m just hoping to make the program bigger and serve more of the community.”

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