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Better together: Janelle builds community and strength

Amy Weiss | Aug 19, 2021

“I’m here to meet people where they are,” said Janelle Schirmers. “I love finding unique ways to help people improve based on their needs, wants, and abilities. There is no competition. We are working on our own goals, together.”

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Janelle is a teacher at heart––and by education. She’s also passionate about helping others become their best selves, which is why members of the fitness center at Havenwood of Buffalo can’t stop raving about her. (If you ask them, you’ll hear things like “Janelle is top-notch. She’s always caring and motivating.” and “Thanks to her help, I’m more independent.”)

Her journey into fitness began years ago, when she paused her career as an elementary school teacher to be at home with her kids. When Janelle joined a local gym, she fell in love with the atmosphere, and soon the manager asked her to teach a fitness class. One step led to another, and Janelle became a personal trainer. Now, she is a licensed personal trainer with the American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) and a group exercise instructor with the American Counsel on Exercise (ACE). Janelle is also certified as a Silver Sneakers, Chair Yoga, and Yoga and Fit instructor. In summary: she loves to help others, and she’s good at it.

Janelle now puts her background in education to use at Havenwood of Buffalo. “No matter our age, we all learn differently,” she explained. “The way I approach things in the fitness center is different for each person.” And Janelle has intentionally created a trusting, empowering environment by simply meeting people where they are––and as they are. Some fitness center members could barely make it down the hallway to the elevator, so Janelle would go up to meet them. Today, those same members come to the fitness center on their own, ready to workout. Others can reach tall cabinets they couldn’t before, walk straighter, and live with more ease.

Passionate about bringing others together while they get stronger, Janelle offers a variety of group exercise classes: chair yoga, balance, cardio, flexibility, strength, and cardio drumming. She strongly believes that though each fitness journey may be different, we can all improve together. She also knows that people who visit her at the fitness center have gone through a lot of change. The selling of a lifelong home. The passing of a beloved spouse. The hardships of a pandemic. That’s why making a safe space for others is a priority. Some members come to exercise just to see their new friends, and that’s just as important to Janelle as helping them get stronger physically.

When members come to the fitness center, Janelle is there to bring people with differing backgrounds together, learning from and supporting one another along the way. “People think we can’t see results and progress as we get older. Well, the older adults here are proving that wrong every single day,” she said. “It’s such a blessing to have a place where people truly know each other, develop friendships, and get better together.”

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