By: Bernadette O’Brien
BOSU® Elite Master Trainer, 85 year old Bernadette O’Brien, tells her story here of how she went from being unfit and battling diabetes…to being active…to training/teaching people to be healthy and fit…to an award-winning motivator of thousands. She floors us every day with her energy, inspiration and motivation, and we – at BOSU - are thrilled to have Super Betty as part of our team.
Our efforts with Betty and other BOSU® Master Trainers – and our affiliation with ICAA - help us to bring BOSU® workouts to Active Agers every day. For more information, go to http://www.bosu.com/blog/cat/active-aging/, or see our BOSU® 3D System created for the Active Aging market.
ABOUT THE MOST AMAZING ENERGIZED WOMAN IN AMERICA…IN HER OWN WORDS…
In my other life, I was a teacher, director, and principal, working also as a college professor of education, art and reading. At one point I was even an exhibiting artist.
I originated and developed a program called “Learning to Read Through the Arts” for The New York City Board of Education, which was recognized on a local, state, national and international level by the federal government as an exemplary program. Government and non-for-profit funding assisted in the dissemination and implementation of the program in schools all over the United States, the Caribbean and parts of Europe and Asia. Teaching was my passion, even after I retired in 1989 from the New York City school system.
In 2001, I realized I needed to get active and lose weight. I started taking aqua classes on a regular basis as a country club member at the Golden Door Spa at the El Conquistador Hotel in Puerto Rico with Lawrence Biscontini, Director of Fitness. After a few months of seeing my dedication to daily classes, he suggested I became certified to teach water fitness classes. The word “teach” captured my imagination even though the thought of participating as an instructor in the fitness world was overwhelming. At this point Lawrence encouraged, trained, mentored and guided me to lose over 50 pounds of body fat by adding aquatic equipment to my practice, and on land, by using the BOSU® Balance Trainer as the main piece of equipment to achieve this goal.
I soon became certified in CPR and as an aqua instructor, and went home to teach at the Wayne YMCA in New Jersey, where I continue to teach weekly classes.
During this time, at age 80, I won Centrum Vitamin's National Contest, “The Most Amazing Energized Woman in America.” There were over 2500 applicants ranging from ages 50 - 70. It was quite an experience because I never thought I would win over a group of much younger people!
Under Lawrence’s guidance, soon after my weight loss and fitness regime, I reversed my Type 2 diabetes, which is a major accomplishment of which I am most proud. Because I lost so much body fat, my pancreas started working again to produce the needed insulin. Thus, no diabetes! I continued my fitness career and became AFAA, ACE and SCW certified in aqua, land and mind body disciplines. At age 85, I am reported as the oldest AFAA certified instructor in the world.
After I attended one of Lawrence’s Fit Camps in Puerto Rico, my career continued to blossom. I participated in this intense regime with well-known fitness instructors throughout the world whose purpose was to go from “good to great” in their fields. We learned so much from Lawrence and shared so much with each other. It was such a wonderful experience that I attended seven (7) more Fit Camps, each catering to different disciplines with different participants. What an extraordinary education gift I received!
Year 2012 was a memorable year in my career for two reasons. Knowing my interest in T’ai Chi, Lawrence invited me to go to California with him to take a new certification given by Master Trainer and national award winner, David-Dorian Ross, called T’ai Chi F.I.T. Again, I had an opportunity to learn from the best.
The same year I was honored and recognized at the Opening Ceremonies of the Asia Fit Convention in Thailand as the award winner of "The Inspirational Award."
Lawrence created a certification called, “BOSU® Mobility and Stability for the Active Aging.” He invited me to demonstrate the exercises and tell my story as an active ager. I became the oldest BOSU® Elite Master Trainer and Development Team member from my participation in this certification. I traveled and presented with Lawrence all over the world to teach other fitness professionals, spreading the functional balance and active aging message.
This past year with Lawrence on sabbatical, I presented with Erika Quest, Development Team/Elite BOSU® Master Trainer, who added a sequel to the Certification called, “BOSU® Balance Basics and Beyond - Keys for Anti- Aging,” again sharing this continued message for fitness professionals through the world. We’ve presented at The International Council on Active Aging Conference for three years in row, with a return presentation scheduled in 2016.
It is now my 3rd year teaching level 1 and level 2, “BOSU® Mobility and Stability for the Active Aging” classes at the Glen Rock Community School in Glen Rock, New Jersey, implementing all the components of the Certification and sequel for active agers. I was the first to premier such a program on the east coast. Testimonials on the Facebook group I began, Aqua Stars America, attest to how much the clients benefited from their participation.
Spirofit100.com invited me to shoot a line of TV shows for active aging, neuroplasticity training and balance, which I did with Lawrence.
When I am not working as a teacher or personal trainer, or working out with my own personal trainer, I do charity and philanthropic work with FG2000. I continue to teach weekly classes, helping the world rethink what “teaching seniors” really means today.
Certifications: AFFA, ACE, SCW, T’ai Chi F.I.T., YogaFit