After more than 34 years of teaching fitness classes, Cary Thomas has seen health crazes come and go.
"I came through everything that was popular, step aerobics, interval training, I used to teach five classes a day at one point," Thomas said.
These days, the 75-year-old leads kick-boxing classes three times a week at the Oakwood Community Centre as part of the City of Windsor's exercise program.
"I like helping people," Thomas said. "If someone's going to feel better about what I'm going to do, why should I stop?"
Cary's Kickers is a group of about 14 regular members. The ages of women in the program range in age from university students to seniors. Some members have been regulars for more than 20 years.
"This isn't martial arts, its recreational kick-boxing," Thomas said. "But I tell people, 'You know, it could come in handy if you come across somebody and need to fight back.'"
Thomas got her start in fitness training after participating in aerobics classes herself. After the instructor missed a class, the other participants asked her to take over.
After becoming a licensed fitness instructor, she's been teaching — and exercising — ever since.
"If I don't exercise I feel like I have the flu," Thomas said. "I feel sluggish and tired and I want to get out there."
One member, Eleanor Meara, says the fitness classes have become an integral part of her week.
"It's turned into three days a week," she said. "If I didn't come, I'd miss something. It's a lifestyle."
"People are really surprised when they hear about the kick-boxing," Meara said. "They think we're into fighting, but we're not. It's more about balance, it's aerobic, it's a lot of things."
For Thomas, having an older clientele means she has to modify some workouts. But everyone has to give their best effort, she says.
"I look at it this way. Just because I've had knee surgery and I can't kick as high as a I want to, there's no reason why you can't," Thomas said. "I don't let them slack off."