OLYMPIA - Shortly after marking her 100th birthday with cake, strawberries and ice cream, Marianne Andrews of Olympia hit the weight room and exercise bikes.
“I’m just doing my normal thing,” Andrews said as she worked on a recumbent stationary bicycle at the fitness center of Providence St. Peter Hospital, while classmates and visitors congratulated her on reaching the century mark.
Twice a week, Andrews, who lives independently in her home overlooking West Bay, calls an Intercity Transit Dial-A-Lift to take her to the class. Working out wasn’t a habit until her doctor suggested the “Stumble Stoppers” class about nine months ago, she said.
Now she can lift 25 pounds on the lat pull-down machine and 15 pounds on the leg-press machine.
“When she first started, she couldn’t get onto the machine,” said Anne Peterson, exercise physiologist at St. Peter, noting that some seniors have to work to build enough strength to lift themselves into the exercise machines. “Now she can lift 15 pounds 20 times.”
Peterson said building balance and strength through exercise helps seniors avoid fall-related injuries .
Andrews’ workout partners – whose ages range from 70 to 100 – also marked the occasion.
“I wanted to celebrate a person that is first of all, 100 years old, and second of all, a person that is in a walker and gets down there, and she can push as many weights as I’m doing now,” said fitness class member Sharon Ennis, who declined to state her age but is younger than her 75-year-old husband, Tom Ennis.
It’s not a bad feat for Andrews, whose first vote for president of the United States for was Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932 – the same year she graduated from Washington State University.
Andrews was born in Tacoma in 1910 and was raised with her three sisters and one brother on her father’s farm near Quilcene. The trees on the Olympic Peninsula were bigger then than they are now, she said.
“It was all virgin timber at that time,” she said.
She also recalled a childhood memory of her father and uncle debating about whether the United States should enter the war.
“That would have been World War I,” she said. “I was about 6 or so, and I remember so clearly – so remember, children always remember the arguments.”
Andrews became a homeeconomics and vocational education teacher at R.A. Long High School in Longview before she volunteered for the Red Cross in World War II, and worked for a year in the Philippines and China. A job with the superintendent of public instruction’s vocational education division brought her to Olympia.
“You know, in future years, they’ll look back on these times and they’ll think it’s greater than it is,” she said.
But Peterson said that Andrews’ example shows people can start to build their strength no matter what age they are.
“She’s always got a smile on her face. She never complains,” she said.
Ennis said she and her husband enjoy talking with their workout partners about their lives and experiences, both past and present.
“It’s just an exciting goal to reach – in their 80s and 90s and they are so full of life and want to move,” she said. “That’s just a positive outlook.”
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