By ADELE THUMM
FOR THE DAILY MAIL
A new wave of exercise enthusiasts is on the rise and age isn't slowing them down.
Georgiann Ash, 78, of Scott Depot, is one such enthusiast who has been going strong for the past five years as an active member of the Silver Sneakers program.
This fitness program, geared toward older adults, helps participants take control of their health through regular exercise classes.
Ash was recently honored for her commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Out of more than 300 people nationwide, Ash's personal essay led to her selection as a finalist for the Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award.
When asked if she sees herself as an inspiration to others, Ash pondered before replying, "It sounds like I'm tooting my own horn, but I've had people tell me that if it hadn't been for me they wouldn't be back (to class)."
Anyone stopping by the hour-long Silver Sneakers class, held five days a week at the Tri-County YMCA, is sure to spot Ash toward the back of the room -- her usual spot for helping others in the class.
"I try to make them feel welcome and show them the ropes," she said.
This take-charge attitude can be traced all through Ash's life. Though full of accomplishments, it has not been without a few mountains to climb.
"I've always been a fighter. I'm not going to let anything keep me down," she said.
After high school, Ash found herself facing the typical career options for a young woman in the 1950s: nursing or clerical jobs.
"Girls were not expected to go to college," Ash recalls. "After high school, it was 'When are you going to start working?'<#148>
With a younger sister diagnosed with polio at the age of three, college certainly didn't seem like the practical option. It wasn't until her first marriage ended in divorce that Ash knew something had to change.