Marvelene Kooistra is like all of us. She forces herself out of bed every morning and tries to get in her exercise.
Except, she’s 97 years old. Kooistra, 97, spends every day working out and learning at the Center for Health & Wellbeing.
“I like everything here, but I think probably the activities in the water might be that one thing I like the most,” Kooistra says. “I’m using the [Crosby Wellness Center] machines and I enjoy those, but I do like the water and I like the programs.”
You might have seen Kooistra walking around before her 10 a.m. Aqua Chi program or after her 11 a.m. Arthritis Movement swimming class.
After a sturdy swimming session, she’ll occasionally have lunch at the Nourish Coffee Bar + Kitchen. Kooistra meets with friends at the Center and attends some of the free programs offered to the public.
As active as anyone, you would never believe that Kooistra is just three years shy of being a century old, but she is. She is done-up as she arrives at the Center, with a rolling backpack safe-keeping her bathing suit and change of clothes. She regularly works out and those who speak with Kooistra say she is sharp and strong.
Though as a precaution, Kooistra carries around a stylish, purple cane, which she says gives away her age.
“You know, I have my problems too, at 97, with balance,” she says, with a smile. She credits these balance challenges as the reason why she’s interested in learning more about Tai Chi, one of the classes offered by the Crosby Wellness Center located inside the facility.
“Tai Chi is supposed to be very good for your balance, and I’m hoping that I can really get into more of the Tai Chi here ….,” she says.
Tai Chi with Alan is offered in the Mind/Body Studio inside the Crosby Wellness Center. Of course, at 97 years old, Kooistra has a lot on her plate — driving herself to her various meetings and doctor appointments. Will it mess with her workout schedule?
“I have to be really careful that it’s not too much stuff that I have to do, so sometimes I have to give up something,” Kooistra says.
On Her History
Kooistra has been a regular at the Center since it officially opened doors in April. Prior to joining the Center and enjoying all its free amenities, she spent her time at her local YMCA and in therapy pools in Winter Springs. She first moved to Florida in 1982 with her husband, Albert. They lived in Palm Coast before settling down in Maitland in 2000. They were extremely active. Although shortly after moving to Maitland, her husband of 64 years became very ill which forced Marvelene to re-think her priorities.
“That changed a lot of things in my life and his too, for that matter,” she says. “We were great golfers at one time. So, I had to stop a lot of things. But he’s been gone now and I’m trying to get back into things.”
Albert passed away three years ago. Since then, Marvelene has been as busy as ever. She is part of community associations, attends board meetings and visits the Center for Health & Wellbeing daily to stay lively at her age. She says she loves being able to socialize and meet new people, but overall, the Center provides a community environment she can take full advantage of.
“I try to take in as much as I can every time,” Marvelene says. “I come to like everything they do here, even the food here. It’s very wholesome food. It makes you feel good that you’re eating wholesome food.”
On Active Aging
According to newly released study on active aging by the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, active aging differs between individuals; it takes diverse forms like a person’s personal goals and views of the world, which can impact their longevity.
“Physical exercise is an important aspect of active aging, but not the only one,” Professor Rantanen explains. “According to the present understanding, all activity is beneficial for mood and wellbeing.”
Marvelene says she has always set a personal goal in her life to live for: whether it was taking care of her brothers’ children or her own children and grandchildren. During this time of her life at 97 years old, she oversees her son’s properties. That’s what’s keeping her going, she says.
“I think genes are important. I really do, but you have to have a purpose,” she says. “Your attitude is very important. Naturally, good food is very important. I think for me, at my age, my spiritual attitude… I think if I’m stressed out and I’m concerned about where I’m going and what’s going to happen, I just say: be calm because I feel God is in charge of my life right now. And that’s good. That gives me peace of mind.”
Marvelene also credits her good health to her ability to let go of worry and disappointment.
“I do believe that there’s a reason for everything and I may not know the reason but there is a reason,” she says. ‘The saying I like to think is ‘Brain be quiet and know that I am God. And then in addition, body be busy and thank God.’”
A healthy mindset also tags along with a healthy attitude toward others.
“I like to understand people,” Marvelene says. “And if I can help them, that’s good, but I like to be a good listener. Sometimes, that’s more important than trying to tell people how they should do things and criticize and judge them. I try not to do that.”
Now, when people learn which age group Marvelene is in, she’s nearly always asked: What does she really credit to her longevity?
Her active lifestyle? Her positive attitude?
“Earrings and the right shade of lipstick is my secret,” she says.