TCC Fitness Centers are Changing Lives, One at a Time

The old adage, “No pain, no gain” may work for some fitness warriors, but that’s not the case for seniors like Melinda Isbell. The 57-year-old deals with a variety of debilitating ailments that prevent her from enjoying a traditional gym workout, but she refuses to let that stop her.

“I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, bad knees and bad feet, so I needed to find a workout that didn’t cause me to hurt so much,” Isbell explained. A good friend recently took her to the TCC Northwest campus to register for a water exercise class, and the rest is history.

“Water aerobics allows me to do everything someone can do outside of the water,” she continued. “I do jumping jacks, run and lift weights. As long as God gives me breath, I will be in a water aerobics class.”

“Before I started my water aerobics class, there was a time I was unable to even tolerate a hug or touch,” said 78-year-old Mary Whisnant, who is currently taking the class at TCC Northwest. “Years of taking water aerobics has given me a better quality of life with more muscle tone, balance, less pain, a stronger core and a more positive mental attitude.”  All senior education courses, for individuals 55+, cost $20, making it a highly affordable option to buying a membership at a big name gym.

Fifty-five million people have a gym membership at one of the 36,000 health clubs in the U.S., according to recent reports. With the average gym membership costing between $40 and $50 each month, getting in shape can be quite expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.

Furthering its commitment to serving the community, TCC offers affordable options for Tarrant County residents through its fitness centers. One can train like a VIP for the semester by enrolling in a one-credit PE class for $64 or a non-credit fitness class through Community & Industry Education (CIE) at any one our campuses. Otherwise, a standard semester-long gym pass costs $75 and includes access to all TCC facilities, which are designed to help students and staff stay active and healthy.

Freddie Sandifer, business faculty at TCC Northeast, remembers the days when he weighed 358 pounds and struggled to breathe while doing simple tasks. Once Freddie’s wife started talking about his high blood pressure issues, he knew changes needed to be made.

Doing something that he liked was the only way for Freddie to stay committed to a workout regimen. “At the time, I was working at the South campus, where I would go play racquetball to start losing some weight. It was my motivator,” Sandifer explained. “One day a colleague told me about keeping a defibrillator nearby because I would sweat so profusely when walking from the advising office to the gym, he thought I might need to use it one day.”

Sandifer spent hours working out in the campus fitness center, shedding unwanted pounds along the way. Once he lost enough weight, he started playing basketball in the gym, moving into the weight room once he reached a personal weight goal. “Eventually I got a personal trainer, but I started my weight loss journey at TCC South playing racquetball.” The campus also features a swimming pool, walking trail and rooms filled with state-of-the-art equipment, much of which Sandifer used during his intense workouts. “I look younger today than I did ten years ago,” he added. “In fact, I can outwork many of the students who are 20 years my junior.”

Now weighing in at 225 pounds, Sandifer spends his days and weekends counseling TCC staff, students and community members on the benefits of healthy eating and engaging in exercise to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle. “The South Campus is a great place to host my five-week boot camps during the spring and summer since there is an outdoor track and equipment that can be used,” he explained. “If the participants don’t have a gym membership, I encourage them to invest $59 to use the gym, which has everything in it, plus a swimming pool.”

For a fraction of the cost of a membership at one of the big name gyms, Tarrant County residents of all skill levels can visit a Tarrant County College campus to use a multipurpose gym, weight room, pool, tennis court, outdoor volleyball court or one of the other amenities to stay fit. There’s something for everyone.

Laura Bradford, a kinesiology instructor at TCC Northeast, invites more community members to take advantage of the wealth of fitness opportunities being offered at the Hurst campus. “We provide an environment that is clean, up-to-date, combined with newer exercise equipment, classes and activities,” she said. Outdoor amenities include a sand volleyball court, six tennis courts, four pickle ball courts, a one-mile jogging loop and a soccer field.

Interested in learning how to sail? Then TCC Northwest is the place to be. “It’s the only campus with a lake and we strive to integrate the lake into our teachings and activities as much as we can,” said Toni Swan, associate professor and wellness coordinator at TCC Northwest. “For example, we offer a sailing class that allows people to enjoy the sailing and kayak beach featuring boat docks.”  Those who prefer to work out on land can take advantage of the indoor and outdoor fitness equipment, including cutting edge “Woodway” treadmills, triathlon spinning cycles, a renovated pool, an 18-hole professionally-designed disc golf course and much more.

As an institution of higher learning, TCC is well-versed in cultivating the development of healthy minds.  The College has joined the City of Fort Worth’s effort to become a certified Blue Zones community. It’s a significant undertaking that requires worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores and even government to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to the environment, policy and social networks.

Staff on TR campus participating in a potluck sponsored by the Blue Zones project.

All TCC campuses are Blue Zones Project Approved, meaning the six-campus District is putting best practices in place to improve the well-being of staff, faculty, students and the community. TCC South, for example, has included healthy food options in the vending machines and has made food accessible at the north end of campus in its physical education building, proving students looking for healthy food options between classes.

The Blue Zones Project provides a framework for individuals to achieve the goal of living a healthier life by making changes to their home and workplace environment. Walking Moais, small groups that walk together, and Potluck Moais, groups that gather over the course of 10 weeks to share healthy, plant-based meals for lunch, are a popular activity across the District. Most believe the Moais have brought colleagues closer together, allowing individuals to develop strong support networks as they strived to live healthier lives.

For more information about Blue Zones activities at TCC or the District fitness centers, visit TCC’s Blue Zones Project page.