My Journey: “Much More Than Fitness”

Joan Bondareff: Mom, seasoned lawyer, health focused

Joan Bondareff personifies the whole health continuum. While yes, she embraces her fitness as a non-negotiable; she regards it as one spoke in the wheel of wellness and health. Nutrition, sleep and having an enjoyable life are just as important to her. And she knows it’s not possible to “work off” last night’s eating mistake.

Joan has been a Fitness on the Run client for almost 8 years. She misses her workouts about as much as she eats sugar. Never. Joan says she engulfs in it, but very rarely. She and her long time love, Herb, have learned how to enjoy life through travel.

When Joan was a child, her family ate meat and potatoes nightly. Over the course of her adult life, she has grown to eliminate red meat. However, the most pervasive part of her diet we can’t deny is the reason for her fit body at 72: no sugar. After soliciting the counsel of a nutritionist, Joan began to take a stab at reading food labels and recognizing how sugar is included in practically any food except whole foods. Joan says, “Hidden sugar is a crime.”

If she isn’t at FOR, she takes 20 minutes to stretch, work with her kettlebells and/or jump rope and gets in a brisk walk. “Adrien taught me to use the jump rope; Julie brought the Kettlebell workouts not only within reach but achievable.”

Julie says, “As we age, people tend to shy away from strength training for fear of injury. Maintaining a consistent and safe individualized program of muscle building exercises will increase the strength of your muscles to keep up with daily activities, build stronger bones, improve your balance, coordination and mobility. Most of all, strength training allows for a better quality of life.”

Joan learned early to exercise. She started running in her 20s which she believes was hard on her little frame. “My body broke from excessive running,” she says. “My knees and hips are hobbled from 20 years of running –that’s why I turned to lower aerobic activities.” In her late 20’s, she got pregnant with Diane.

50 years later, their relationship is active despite the geographical distance between them. Annually they travel to the Poconos for a week-long retreat with daily hikes, “…our favorite activity together.” The days are capped with massages and painting in the evenings.

Joan relies heavily on staying active to maintain her mental health. “Otherwise, I get crabby and I eat more.”

Next, Joan hasn’t known a day since Law School when she didn’t think about her professional expertise: maritime law. She’s been a lawyer for 40 years. Not only is she passionate about her trade, she is concerned about the number of friends in the field who don’t take care of themselves. While she knows plenty who play tennis, box and stay active – sadly, it is not the norm. Her own firm offers accessible wellness plans and has a conveniently located gym.

Her secret at 72 years young? Find a trainer. She believes they should be close to your home, like hers. Make fitness a part of your daily life. Period. “Make no excuses. If you don’t take care of your body, it will not take care of you.”

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