Seventy-six year old Dale Weiler has spent most of his whole life on the south side. The Manual High School graduate grew up in Beech Grove and after serving in the 101st Airborne for the U.S. Army, raising 3 children, and retiring after 30 years from Indianapolis Power and Light, Weiler found a new way to serve his community.
20 years ago, he decided to start leading a fitness class for seniors at the Arthur R. Baxter YMCA in Greenwood, a class he still runs regularly. The class focuses on building core strength through exercises using resistance bands and floor mats. Weiler believes the most important exercises for seniors are ones that train the muscles in both balance, and the ability to get on the floor and back up again.
“The most important exercises for seniors are ones that allow them to stay balanced on their feet and in cases that they are not, to have the confidence and ability to get back up.” Weiler explained, “These exercises allow seniors to prolong their independence and live healthy and active lifestyles into their later years. By doing this, they are able to take better care of themselves, and be there for their families.”
At times, members of Weiler’s class struggle to get through the entire workout, which he insists is not a problem at all. His hope is that any senior attending his class pushes themselves to the best of their ability, and genuinely seeks improved health.
“I want everyone smiling, I want everybody having a good time, and I want you to work the hardest you can. I want you to talk to each other too,” Weiler said, “It’s great for you physically, but it’s also a social event too. They know it’s good for them, and they try hard. My favorite thing to hear is ‘Dale you killed me today! I had a good time’”
Weiler’s past health obstacles are part of what drives him to continue to lead the class.
“I have artificial knees and hips. I am very blessed to be as healthy and active as I am. Things could be very difficult for me,” Weiler said, “However, by leading this class, I have been able to keep my physical health, and help others along the way.”
Weiler smiled when asked if he would liken his class to eating vegetables.
“People say they love my class. If they can’t sit on the floor its ok if they have to use a chair. I tell people to do what they can,” he said, “Even if they can only do one or two out of the 10 exercises we do. I just want them to gain confidence in what they are doing.”
One of Weiler’s class participants, Mary Huffman, feels strongly about the positive impact that this class has had on her life.
“It’s always fun, brings my heart rate up but not overly strenuous. It allows you to use the muscles you use every day more freely.” Huffman said, “Things like filling up my gas tank become easier. It helps me every day of my life.”
YMCA Membership director Shannon Reedy feels that Weiler is an inspirational person, and will go above and beyond to help the people he leads.
“He is a humble person but I have seen him take people and change them both mentally, and physically.” Reedy said, “He’s the type of person who will get you involved. It does not matter what level you are. He will take you to the next level.”
To find out more about this class and others offered at YMCA visit them at 7900 Shelby St. or on their website at indymca.org/baxter.