Edina Experts Stay Fit Past 50

Edina fitness instructors in their 50s share advice for staying in shape.
Greg Fast coaches Maureen Haworth, Carey Lindeman, Liz Anema and Robbie Fast at The Marsh Wellness Center.

As we age, it can sometimes feel like opportunities for exercise—let alone exercise that feels good—are harder and harder to find. And yet, for folks over 50, it’s more important than ever to stay active. Moderate daily exercise keeps muscles strong, helps lower heart-disease risk factors and can improve bone and joint health.
OK, OK—you know all that. But how to find the perfect workout?
We asked three Edina fitness instructors, proudly in the 50-plus crowd, about their favorite ways to stay in shape. Read on, and you just might find a few new reasons to get back to the gym and—dare we say it?—have a little fun.
Greg Fast
Edina resident Greg Fast says that people are often surprised to hear that he teaches group fitness classes—he’s not quite the ponytailed, leg-warmer-wearing instructor you might picture. “In college, I played football and hockey,” he explains. “And then I started getting out of shape.” For a guy who didn’t like traditional workouts like running , step aerobics was a natural fit. “I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the group,” Fast remembers about his first aerobics class. And teaching? That happened by accident. “The instructor could tell I had rhythm,” he laughs. “So I did training. It’s a really fun way to keep in shape.”
Decades later, Fast is still at it. In addition to his day job as a business owner, he teaches several step classes a week at Minnetonka’s Marsh Wellness Center and at Minneapolis’ Calhoun Beach Club. “I want to keep doing it as long as I can,” he says. “I’m 57, and I feel like I’m in my 20s most of the time.” Fast enjoys working with older students and says it’s a privilege to help people realize that their best years might still be ahead. “Time goes fast, and if you don’t stay active, it really catches up with you quickly,” he notes. “Just to keep people moving, the flexibility part, is really important.”
Check out a local group aerobics class, says Fast, if you’re looking for a low-pressure, supportive environment—and especially if you’re a music lover. “The music adds to the workout. It takes your mind off what you’re doing and doesn’t make it feel so ‘military,’ ” he explains.
With all of that group fitness experience, would Fast ever consider taking the plunge with a dance-based class like trendy Zumba? He chuckles. “I don’t have the hips to teach Zumba.”

Teri Hovanec
Like her colleague Greg Fast, Edina’s Teri Hovanec became a fitness instructor by chance. “I started working out 20 or 30 years ago just as a way to see my sister,” she remembers with a smile. When Hovanec had her first child, she decided to look for a flexible part-time job, and started teaching aerobics at the Marsh—and the rest is history.
“I’ve seen [trends like] tae bo come and go. Bosu ball has come and gone,” she reflects. “We’re back to people liking the traditional aerobics. It all comes around.” In addition to teaching at the Marsh, Hovanec is a substitute instructor at the Edina Community Center, where she loves the down-to-earth vibe. “There’s no stress, no judgment,” she says. “Some people feel like they need to lose 30 pounds before they work out. Nope; just come on down.”
Hovanec loves working with students who are reaching their golden years. “When you get to a certain age, it’s no longer obsessing about weight loss. It’s about being fit, which is what it should have been about all along.”
Especially for women, Hovanec focuses on strengthening core muscles. “If you’re walking outside in the wintertime, and you start to slip, [a strong core] means it’s less likely you’ll fall. Ten or 15 minutes [a day] of working your abs can help you have a better quality of life and be more mobile as you get into your 70s and 80s.”
Ruth Kenefick
“Why teach fitness?” we asked Ruth Kenefick, an Edina-based instructional designer. “You do this for love,” she says with a smile. “You don’t do this for money. When I worked full time near the gym, I’d dash across the street and take a class. I was bitten by the bug, right from the get-go.”
Like Hovanec and Fast, Kenefick teaches part-time at the Marsh and sings the praises of her group fitness classes. “It’s sociability linked with exercise,” she says. “It’s like a little family. We’re all looking for community and connection, because we’re isolated behind our screens all day.” And people just love to dance, she says with a laugh. “I get some music on, put a microphone on and I turn into Madonna. It’s a riot!”
Even if you haven’t been to the gym in years, don’t be afraid to try something new, says Kenefick. “I applaud you. Good for you. After a while, your body will start looking for [the workout], and you’ll get bitten by the bug.”