It’s 8:10 when I walk through the doors of Island Fitness for Jerry Vickers’s 8:30 indoor cycling class. You have to get there early to get a seat. As I place my water bottle in its holder and stretch out my legs, I look to the white board Jerry’s writing on. The eighty-one year old instructor is scribbling down an interval hill circuit; the next sixty minutes are going to be brutal.
Jerry first came to Coronado in the late 50’s, flying as a fighter pilot for the Navy. Later he was stationed in Hawaii, until he returned to San Diego to work for PSA in 1970. He flew in the Navy for ten years, starting as a fighter pilot, and then moved onto fly helicopters and transports. Eventually, when he left the Navy, he flew for commercial airlines. Jerry was always active enough to pass the semi-annual Navy physicals to keep his job; however, it wasn’t until later in his life that he became more of a fanatic for exercise.
After the Navy, Jerry became a fitness trainer and started a class called Club 55, a strength training class for those 55 and older. He gave the lessons at the Coronado Hospital Gym, formally known as the Motion Center, from 1995- 2005. One of his more memorable clients was an elderly lady whose goal was to lift a case of wine into her car without any help. Needless to say, after time in Jerry’s class, she accomplished that goal. Jerry not only lifted weights, but also swam different rough water swims, eventually joining the Coronado Masters Swimming, where he met his wife, Sandra.
Sandra moved to Coronado in 1950. Her father was in the Navy, and he bought property in Coronado upon retirement. She attended CMS and CHS, graduating in 1957. She recalls 1969 when the ferry ended and the bridge opened, “I was very sad to see the Ferry go, but the bridge was also exciting and liberating. Going anywhere with just the ferry you had to allot a chunk of time to get anywhere.” Growing up, Sandra loved to body surf at North Beach with her friends. It wasn’t until her late 30s that she started swimming at the old Municipal Pool, taking a class called “Swim Trim”, which essentially was the start of Coronado Masters. One day after swimming, Jerry proposed to her at the pool.
Both continue to lead extremely active lives. Sandra started to do rough water swims and now can hardly stand chlorinated pools. She has swum across Lake Tahoe in mid-forty water temperatures, the Maui Channel Swim, Waikiki Rough Water, the Escape from Alcatraz a few times, and on a trip with some friends to Italy, through the Blue Grotto in the Island of Capri. One of her greatest accomplishments came this past summer, when she and five other women set a world record for swimming the Catalina Channels Relay in their 70’s. The swim entailed one hour swim legs covering 22 miles from San Pedro to Catalina. The race was August 3rd, only 8 months after Sandra’s second shoulder surgery. It was her third and last time swimming it. Now Sandra likes to swim “short” distances of a mile outside of Central, hardly ever wearing a wetsuit. While Jerry enjoyed swimming, the water temperatures urged him to look for other means of exercise. He joked, “The water temperature should be equal to my age.”
Jerry got involved in cycling in the 90’s when he saw Johnny Goldberg, the man who invented the indoor cycling bike, at the IHRSA (International Health and Racket Sports Club Association) fitness convention in San Diego. With no indoor cycling studios in San Diego, Jerry had to wait a full year before the first studio opened in La Jolla. Jerry has been teaching indoor cycling since the mid 90’s. He argues, “The beauty of spinning is you can back off and nobody notices cause your feet are still turning. And everybody is busy watching themselves in the mirror anyway.”
Sandra and Jerry consider themselves fanatics. However, while they are very involved in fit and active lives, they exercise smartly. They both advised not to take things too seriously and be smart about workouts. Being fit has really paid off for them, and although limitations have come with age, they have found a way around them. When I asked Sandra what motivates her to be so active, she acknowledged that it’s nice to have a good figure and working out helps her sleep at night. After a few seconds, her face lit up and she brilliantly said, “Being fit is fun!”
The final repetition ends, and the cool-down song begins to play. I feel the muscles in my legs screaming and notice I’m not the only one in the class with sweat pouring everywhere. When I look up at Jerry in the front of the classroom I can’t help but notice that it seems like he’s still getting warmed-up for the workout.
Online Editor, Intern
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