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HEAVEN: a soft chair and a black & white movie from the 40’s. Answer the phone? Not likely. Go to a cocktail party and make dazzling conversation? Maybe, or maybe walk on hot coals.

With an attitude like that it’s no wonder it took me a year and a half to drive 15 minutes and sign up for exercise and membership at the Jewish Community Center (free with Medicare!) before it was too late. It’s probably too late.

But what I discovered was so much more than a pool, workout room, and lots of exercise and dance classes. Bookbinding (signed up), Facebook (signed up), Memoir Writing, and Fundamentals of Writing a Screenplay -- to name a few. When I checked out the bio of the Bookbinding teacher, Yuka Petz, I discovered a world-traveling, world-class bookbinder, graduate from the esteemed Rhode Island School of Design.

When directed to the JCC membership director, I was told, “she has really red hair and she’s in the glassed-in office”.

This dynamo from Ozark, Alabama, Monika Flurer, converted to Judaism.

Nosey, I asked, “For your boyfriend?”

“No”, she said, “I just liked that it was a religion that concentrated on the present instead of the afterlife”.

But back to the original target, exercise.

Much as I hate getting out of my chair, I was a little bit psyched when Monika told me Lauren played lots of club music in her Zumba class. She also showed me a video of cardio-sculpt instructor, Kelly, on Dancing With the Stars! I’d probably last longer in Hazel’s 'circuit at your own pace' class.

I heard a story recently of a guy headed for back surgery. In a last ditch effort to avoid surgery he tried yoga; after 2 weeks his back pain decreased and today his back is healed.  He left Wall Street and started a business called Mind Body Green. Gotta believe! There are lots of different yoga classes at the JCC from classical to a blended cycling-yoga class.

With offerings this diverse, maybe I could offer my College-Essay-Coach workshop to help kids find their stories and their voices. Kids may know how to write an essay for a history class but when it comes to personal essays, they have no experience so they freak. And colleges really want to know the kid behind the grade point average, so the essay is important.

But back to the physical exercise.

I went to my first Zumba class and loved it. I did the circuit on those machines I could figure out how to operate. As I was leaving my friend Gene Goldring, (she of the 1% body fat) walked in and dragged me to the Pilates-Sculpt class, where I lasted 4 minutes.

All in all, the JCC is a fabulous resource as long as you’re willing to get out of the chair.

Carol Pulitzer is an award-winning writer and illustrator. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine Magazine, and Country Living among others. She writes and illustrates super short stories at her Little Theatre blog ( littletheatre1.com ) and can be contacted at [email protected]