Berte Heath has a passion for exercise and the benefits it can bring in helping seniors stay strong and independent.
“I am the squat queen. I love squats because it strengthens all the major muscle groups in your lower body,” she says.
Berte teaches 12 fitness classes each week at the Billings Community Center and the YMCA.
She’s a ball of energy and a firm believer that you either move it or lose it.
“Any resistance you use will help strengthen your muscles, which will help strengthen your bones. And that’s so important, especially for women, as they age,” she says.
“When your muscles get weak and you don’t use them, within three days your muscles will start to atrophy. They won’t disappear but they start to atrophy.”
Berte grew up in in Hawaii and says she didn’t really get serious about exercise until after she retired from her career as a teacher.
“It just caught on. I just loved it. And what I really love is for somebody else to love it and to understand that this is what you must do to stay independent.”
She says that exercise has more benefits than just keeping seniors strong.
“There are many that come to class that this is all they do for the whole day. It’s their social life and I make sure that it is fun for them,” she says.
“I am 84. I need to exercise. I don’t get enough exercise. So, this keeps me going and keeps me young,” says Ann Riddle.
“She is great. I mean at her age; she is an inspiration to all of us. We are lucky to have her,” says Debbie Dolezal.
Berte is pushing 80 and has had to deal with a few of the obstacles of aging herself, like rheumatoid arthritis.
“I am full-fledged RA. I have replaced knees—both—and a replaced shoulder. I have bone disease. I have lost two and half inches in height, but I am not stopping. I have to keep going,” she says.
And that’s exactly what this Super Senior is doing—going strong and inspiring others along the way.