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She keeps hearts pounding, muscles working
Jennie Schatmeier is shown doing her daily routine at In Shape Manteca. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
It is hard to picture Jennie Schatmeier moping around on a couch, not toned, and 35 pounds heavier.

Just ask any of her group exercise class students at In Shape Manteca who often arrive 45 minutes before class starts to make sure they can secure a spot.

“Don’t quit on me now!” Schatmeier shouts as she counts through her last two push-ups leading a mixed group of women and men ranging in age from their 20s to those pushing 60 and beyond.

Perhaps a 32-year-old leading a muscle blast class doing push-ups, Pilates, shoulder presses with 12-pound weights or a wide assortment of other exercises for an hour might not sound impressive but then again most exercise instructors aren’t four months pregnant.

“This gym is like a family - the instructors, the front desk people, the staff, and the students,” Schatmeier said.

And part of that family - the students - she goes out of her way to encourage texting many when they miss a work out and taking a genuine interest in their fitness and health goals.

It wasn’t always like that.

Five years ago her 27-year-old brother died suddenly. It hit her emotionally like a ton of bricks. As a stay-at-home mother of two she found herself crying and on the couch much of the time. She found solace in food and soon found herself 35 pounds heavier. After about a year she figured she needed to do something to snap out of it so she joined a health club.

She remembers when she first joined In Shape that she would walk by the group exercise room looking in wishing she could do that but thinking she could never be in good enough shape to try. So she simply made a beeline to the treadmills. Then one day another member encouraged her to try the classes.

“They made me feel so wonderful,” Schatmeier said of the instructors. “Laurie (Fiore) and Robin encouraged me and Judy Rushin about eight months into taking her classes told me that I should be an instructor and that I’d be terrific.”

Given how much she was gaining by toning, improving her posture, and her brighter outlook plus what she was losing in the form of inches and weight Schatmeier took Rushin up on the suggestion.

Today she is part of the In Shape instructors that offer a wide repertoire of classes ranging from spin and water aerobics to yoga, Zumba, power blast, Pilates, and RIPPED, to cardio skills and drills.

Schatmeier counts her success not in terms of numbers such as pounds lost but on how she feels in terms of her general disposition and by her brighter attitude toward life. She said she’ll be happy as long as she can lift 12-pound weights, spin for an hour, and do push-ups - the exact number she won’t divulge - on her toes.

“It (exercise) really has made a big difference,” she said.

Schatmeier has also seen transformations in her students who all come to class with different levels of fitness and different goals.

Even though she had a reputation as being a drill sergeant with a heart, she stresses students should do what they are comfortable with and push themselves using their own judgment and not trying to do what everyone else does necessarily.

She noted the first time she took some classes she was sore for a few days but after doing it and returning on a consistent basis the soreness morphed into feeling significantly better about herself.

Schatmeier suggests that those thinking about joining a group exercise class at In Shape do what she did. She attended all of the classes to find out which ones she liked the most and went from there. Schatmeier also picked up on the social aspect - being encouraged by other people. She says that helps you stay more motivated when you have other people pulling for you as opposed to just hitting the weight room or the treadmill on your own.

The former couch potato exercises six days a week with Sunday as a day of rest. She typically exercises for at least an hour a day while juggling everything from ball games with her two young sons Nathan and Nicolaus to housework and other family activities, and spending time with her husband Jon Schatmeier.

 “This (being an instructor) isn’t work to me,” Schatmeier said. “I take pride in what I do and helping people succeed.”