The women in the United Lutheran Church gym were shadowboxing to the music of Toby Keith and Willie Nelson about the time Pastor Mary Sanders spoke up.
“I hate you.”
Sanders was talking to Kim Field and, of course, she meant it in the most loving way possible.
The group laughed because Field’s workout class was ramping up, and at least one other member of the class confessed to thinking the same thing.
They don’t really hate Field. In fact, class members rave about Field and her HAIL fitness classes.
“It’s fun, I feel better and my jeans are looser,” said Denise Detlefsen of Lakewood.
“There’s no judgment here,” Sanders said. “It’s for every size and shape.”
HAIL stands for Healthy, Active, Independent for Life and is geared toward seniors, a demographic Field is particularly passionate about helping. However, she says the workout class is for “everybody and every body.”
“We work on everyday living,” Field said. “We simulate putting things on the shelf, stepping up onto a curb and fall prevention.”
It’s evident after a few minutes of watching a HAIL class that it’s more than just a workout. The women, ranging in age from 43-92, laugh as they go through the exercises. They’ve become friends since Field started the class at the church in early December.
They get together for chowder on Fridays and had a holiday cookie exchange.
Field laughed when I mentioned that this might be the only fitness class in the South Sound that gets together for cookies and chowder.
“It’s about energy balance, calories in versus calories out,” she said. “We burn and therefore ...”
HAIL is a gentle workout that utilizes small hand weights and chairs. Participants march in place, do other movements (sometimes using the chair for balance) to raise their heart rates and strengthen their legs.
Some exercises, such as core strengthening, are done while sitting in the chair. Although Detlefsen — at 43, she’s the kid in the group — hit the floor for a little extra challenge.
Field is quick to offer alternative exercises for those needing something a little easier or more challenging. During an exercise requiring participants to repeatedly move between a standing and sitting position, Field extended her hands for a woman to use as support.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all class,” Field said. “It’s designed for the needs of each individual.”
This idea seems quite appealing to the group.
“I won’t even go into a big gym like LA Fitness,” said Joy McCaw, a 70-year-old Lakewood resident. “I don’t feel comfortable there, but I feel comfortable here.”
The women credit Field for that comfortable atmosphere. Not only do the women say they feel encouraged and notice results, but they have fun.
“She has a great sense of humor,” said Ann Schultz of Graham.
Field delivers one of her favorite lines when she notices participants not focusing on breathing correctly. “Breathing is important because there is an entire section of the newspaper dedicated to those who aren’t.”
Kathy Lind of Lakewood has worked with Field for a year as a member of classes similar to HAIL. Lind enjoyed the experience so much she hired her as a personal trainer.
“Kim is kind, but firm in encouraging me to work past the point I would quit,” Lind said. “She varies the activities so the sessions stay fresh. … I have been able to safely achieve growth and feel successful.”
Lind said she doesn’t enjoy exercise, but Field has helped her keep motivated to train regularly as she’s worked to get in shape after foot and knee surgeries. In turn, Field says the success of people like Lind is what keeps her motivated.
Field is convinced exercise can benefit everybody, even those who don’t like it, if they find the right program.
“Everybody is different, and everybody has their struggles deep inside them,” Field said. “It’s finding that right place and understanding who you are and feeling comfortable in your own skin.”
When: 10 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays
Where: United Lutheran Church, 1231 S. 76th St., Tacoma
Cost: $6 per class or $36 for six-week pass. The cost is discounted for those who bring a food donation of at least three cans. The food is donated to a local food bank.
More info: hailexercise@outlook. com, facebook.com/hailforlife