I was excited to start a new summer gym routine with my mom, but I wasn't exactly thrilled that our workouts would begin at 8:00 AM. The thought of starting a workout with cardio and ending it with an ab routine isn't very motivating. So when my alarm rang the first morning and I felt like I could literally sleep for 10 more hours, I knew this would take some effort. Upon entering the gym, I immediately noticed that it was mostly filled with older people about 70 years old and up. I joked to my mom, "Wow, this crowd is going to do wonders for my motivation."

Then I met Trudi. 

On day 3 or 4 of our routine, while on the leg press machine, I overheard a woman asking what weight the machine was set to. I leaned over and then told her that it had been set to 110 pounds. Thinking she would just say thank you, I began walking away. That's when I heard, "110 POUNDS! WOW I CAN'T BELIEVE I JUST DID THAT! I am so proud of myself." My face lit up and I congratulated her on her feat.

Jenna Carellini

Pictured: The free weight room upstairs at All Sport, where my mother and I often spend the beginning part of our workout catching up and sharing stories with Trudi.

Day after day, this same woman shined with positivity and light, always encouraging her friends and going out of her way to make those around her feel motivated.

It was when my mother and I heard this woman say to a friend, "We have a beautiful life, don't we!" that we decided to thank her for her ongoing positivity.

Not only did she thank us for the compliment, but she began a conversation with us and commended us on our efforts at the gym. She introduced herself as Trudi and we said goodbye. Each day after that, we were greeted with kind words and we began to get to know her better. One day she shared that not only is she 74 years old, but she had recently had a double knee replacement and was just beginning to workout again.

I was left in awe with all she shared and that nothing she faced deterred her fitness journey.

I would come to find out that Trudi dedicated her life to fitness 30 years ago when she first joined All Sport Fishkill (the gym we both go to now) and got in the best shape of her life. But losing weight wouldn't be the only thing she did at All Sport.

Jenna Carellini

Pictured: Trudi in a spread done by the local newspaper in 1988.

One day, she politely asked if she could give me a pointer on an exercise. While my initial reaction was surprise at a 74-year-old knowing so much about the form of a successful lat pulldown, I would come to find out that Trudi was a fitness instructor for 24 years at the same gym and taught workout classes for most of her young adult life. She can even point out gym members that used to take her class and still workout at the same gym! How amazing is that? 

Once again I was touched at who Trudi was as a person; she had lived her life helping others become passionate about fitness and  continued to do that for me and my mom (and even my dad when he joins us on the weekends).  

Of course Trudi would surprise me again when she mentioned that, almost 21 years ago, she was teaching a class and suffered a life threatening stroke due to a complication from a treatment at a doctor's office. After being left with no right carotid artery, she went back to teaching just three weeks after. She faced a procedure resulting in several feet of her colon being taken out, all while caring for her husband who had Parkinson's disease, and raising a family. Trudi is a superhero.

The special thing about Trudi is that, despite her amazing achievements, she is humble.

Whenever given a compliment or praise she smiles and is so honored by everything said to her. In fact, when I asked her permission to write this article she was left speechless and told me how much of an honor it was that I even wanted to write about her.

When I began my summer gym routine, I was only expecting to try out new classes and spend quality time with my mom. Never did I expect to be so impacted and motivated by such a special person. Trudi may be more than 3 times my age and also 20 years older than my mom, but she is a friend to us both. Our 8:00 AM gym time is made sweeter each day with Trudi's words and kindness, and I will always be thankful for her!