Avid 89-year-old exerciser motivates and inspires others

An avid exerciser, Rotterdam’s Ethel Murray is an inspiration to her classmates at Curves on Duanesb

An avid exerciser, Rotterdam’s Ethel Murray is an inspiration to her classmates at Curves on Duanesburg Road.

Murray, who turned 89 in the fall, exercises five times a week without fail. Kathy Skoda, also a Curves member, said she has seen Murray steadily make the rounds from one exercise machine to another. “She goes at her own pace. When I’m 89, I want to be like her,” Skoda said.

Donna Jahmel agreed. “She motivates us,” she said. “She works for a longer period of time than most of us do. And we are a lot younger,” she said.

In her blue velour sweat suit and sneakers, the energetic Murray said her 30- to 40-minute routine, which includes a weight bearing workout, keeps her strong and flexible.

Exercise has always been part of Murray’s lifestyle. Her daughter Anne Schoff said growing up her mother was athletic and full of energy. When Schoff was a child, she remembers her mother clipping exercise articles from women’s magazine and posting them on a kitchen cabinet. “It would be the exercise of the month and mom would do it,” Schoff said.

She also remembers her mother exercising along with fitness experts on television. And when, as a child, Schoff was diagnosed with a curvature of the spine and prescribed an exercise routine, her mother made it fun by offering to do it with her.

Murray, a native of Australia, said exercise has many benefits for her. Not only is it a social time, but she finds it keeps her mind sharp and her mood up. She also said regular exercise helps with her bone density, core strength and balance. “It works for me,” she said. “I took a fall a few weeks ago, and broke nothing,” she said proudly.

Murray joined Curves in 2003 after her daughter told how much she and her children got out of it. “I brought her here and signed her up for a year,” Schoff said.

“She was telling me I would enjoy it. She was right,” Murray said. For the past five years, Murray has signed herself up.

Prior to joining Curves, Murray’s main exercise was power walking. Her husband, Oliver, was concerned for her safety and worried when she went walking alone. Joining Curves alleviated her husband’s fears. “He doesn’t worry about me now. He knows I am here,” she said.

Murray tries not to miss a day. She said exercise “stirs up the blood and keeps the head clear.” And she enjoys the camaraderie. “They are such a nice group of women,” she said.

It’s clear the feelings are mutual.

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