It took a bit of convincing, but Cheri Cauble found a way to combine her two passions: teaching and fitness.
The Gering, Nebraska, woman spent 38 years teaching grade-schoolers how to read and all about state history. Now she teaches adults and seniors how to stay fit. And the 70-year-old has kept it up, leading exercise classes at the Scottsbluff Family YMCA for more than 20 years.
“This is my love. I love to exercise. I love to teach all ages, evidently, from kindergarten all the way up,” Cauble said.
Cauble has always valued staying fit. It was a lesson she learned growing up on a farm. She was constantly active, usually working in fields or riding her horse. She went on to play volleyball at Chadron State College.
After she married and had kids, Cauble wanted to find an outlet for exercise, and she wanted her two daughters to be active, too. So the family joined the Scottsbluff Family YMCA. Her girls took swimming lessons, and Cauble attended aerobics classes.
Eventually Cauble started volunteering at the Y. It took some convincing from a director to get her on staff. When Cauble taught, she’d bring her girls along.
Cauble always led by example while her children were growing up. Even on vacations, the family incorporated exercise with a bike ride or walk.
Cauble has always put others first, her daughter Heather Cauble-Sixel said. Looking back, she said, her mother raised a family, worked full time and taught aerobics, all to see others benefit.
“She’s such a giver,” Cauble-Sixel said. “She just did it because it was so rewarding for her to see other people benefit from it and blossom from it.”
Now Cauble teaches classes two to six days a week. She intended to teach just Pilates. But she fell in love with Silver Sneakers classes, an aerobics and chair exercise course designed for the 55 and older crowd. She has also taught aerobics, cycling and TRX and led walking groups.
The TRX class is a form of suspension training that relies on body weight. Cauble joined a recent class of eight in lunges, squats and arm workouts using the black-and-yellow straps. She’d remind the gym-goers to breathe and helped count down their reps. Every once in a while she’d offer praise: “You got it.”
When Cauble-Sixel, who lives in Omaha, visits Gering, she usually takes one of her mom’s classes.
“She’s tough,” Cauble-Sixel said. “People always say, ‘I cannot believe your mom is 70 years old and doing this. It’s because of this that she’s 70 and strong.”
Cauble has also recruited a new YMCA member: her husband, Jim.
Since Jim was diagnosed with diabetes, he joins his wife at the YMCA every morning. They work out together and then Cauble goes to teach.
As a couple, they camp and hike at Yellowstone.
“We do a lot of hiking. We take our bear spray, pack a lunch and our water bottles, and we go for most of the day,” Cauble said. “I have my little Fitbit, and it lets us know how far we’ve gone.”
As an instructor, Cauble has always been dependable, and her caring nature comes through, said Lola Gonzales, fitness director of the Scottsbluff Family YMCA. She never says no and often fills in for other instructors and volunteers at health fairs, Gonzales said.
“She is just a beautiful angel here for the Y,” Gonzales said. “She’s a Christian person deep down, and you can tell when she’s around people, she glows. They know what she’s all about.”