Ready, set — fit!

Strains of “The Candy Man” boom from the Community Center at Mercer View many evenings as Lori Hollow urges her jazzercizers to “pick it up now.” The boogiers whoop or clap as the tempo changes to a more upbeat “American Idol” tune.

Couples and singles from teens to seniors bump it out. George Sakamoto came because “walking wasn’t enough, and I wanted to exercise with my wife. Sometimes I go left when I should go right but to heck with it.” He turns with swiveling hips and performs four brisk step-kicks.

Similar Islander energy pulsates around our trails, gyms, pools, recreation centers and clubs. There is something for each of our idiosyncratic selves through Island Parks and Rec, the Jewish Community Center, BCC, Boys & Girls Club, dance studios, Mary Wayte Pool, and other private clubs and associations.

There’s Naginata, Tai Chi, Kendo. Yoga, water aerobics. Youth gymnastics, drop-in pickleball. Total body workouts, running, biking, belly dancing, weight training, kickboxing, Pilates. Even personal training and fitness “boot camp” for off-season athletes.

Whew. Pass the bottled water and towel, please.

Total Body Conditioning, which began as “Total Men’s,” has been infiltrated by females. But some of the die-hards are Wei Li a cardiac surgeon and former Marine; David Wolter, an 80-something WWII veteran and POW who also bikes “laps” on Gallagher Hill most days; Milt Yanicks, retired humanities block teacher at MIHS; and Bruce Peters, retired wholesaler and community activist.

Yanicks not only conditions three times a week but swims a half-mile five times a week, walks his dog, Desi, a couple miles daily, gardens, and exercises his brain with copious reading. “He follows the same advice he gave his students for so many years,” said Peters.

“Being with the guys is a great motivator for me,” said Yanicks. I especially enjoy the coffee hour after class, talking about everything, yet always seeming to come back to cars and airplanes.”

Their trainer, MIHS and UW graduate Christi Masi said, “These guys and women amaze me every day — some for as long as 14 years! D’ya think they’re fit? You bet they are!” (Watch for Masi in another month when she appears in a national TV ad for Aleve Liquid Gels.)

Sweating our way to health isn’t always a group effort. Ann Soffe, in her 70s, is seen jogging the trails three times a week and swimming the other days. She recently completed the MI Rotary 10K Run in an hour and a half. She’s been running for more than 30 years here and was a crack tennis player earlier. She says this activity not only helps physically, but shoos away the blues, should they visit you.

Bend, stretch and heft that shovel: Gardening stirs in the community pea patch at Mercer View. Already, some are tending to Swiss chard, irises, berries and other stalwart perennials — or simply dream about the possibilities and drink in the exquisite lake view behind their 10- by 40-foot plots. The rototiller comes April 9, after which serious planting begins.

Expect good produce from some of the pea-patch regulars: Dodie Kincaid, Storm Yanicks, Margaret Li, Helene Steinhart, Kerry Concannon, Bill Rogers, Paul Smith and Pat Aldape. Parks and Rec employee Yvonne Defty says there’s a waiting list for the unspoken plots.

Spring break

School’s are off next week, so motorists beware. Also, parents — hurry to sign up your 5- to 13-year-olds for three-hour Parks and Rec. art camp that week. Parks and Rec. also invites kids to “Hop on over to Mercerdale Park” Saturday, April 7 for the annual egg hunts. Ages 2 through 6 hunt the field at 3 p.m. sharp. But for kids age 7 through 10, a flashlight hunt is planned for 8:30 p.m. sharp. Contact Katie Borden for more details, 236-3590,

The Island’s Christian churches prepare for their highest holy day this Sunday. See the calendar for Easter services, which begin at sunrise and continue throughout the day.

Easter finery reminds us of the high-style in which former dress-shop-keeper Carole Gilmore kept Mercer Island women and their gift-giving men. Gilmore, recently seen on a senior trip to Maltby Caf/, closed her doors in 1995, “but is still beautiful, vibrant and so stylish,” said her co-tripper.

Spring cleaning

A final “To-Go-Inspiration” from Professional Life Coach Katy Lynch, to help you dig out from deep piles of clutter, dust and hodge-podge: From 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 28, she will show you how to gain more room to breathe. Sign up now all you resistors — you know who you are.

Reach Nancy Gould-Hilliard at

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