Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone and you can’t put a finger on what makes such an impact, but there you are, thinking about who they are and what they have achieved?
Sylvia Rice is one of those people to me. Even though I had met Sylvia before 2015, it wasn’t until a workshop in Sydney with Maria Teresa Stone that I got to know her better. This hilarious and wise 70+ year old with an insight that only someone with extensive professional and personal experience could have shared stories and hilarious quotes. Sylvia’s extraordinary experience in the fitness industry goes as far back as 1985 when she taught Aerobic Movement classes. She is a pioneer in classes for older adults. She started a Senior program at Beaton Park in 1984, which, until recently, when she retired, had participants that continually stayed loyal attendees from when it began.
Her other accomplishments included being a primary school teacher and educator, singing and music composition, poetry, writing a book, teaching children skiing and modelling nude! As one of her members wrote about Sylvia, “Sylvia often found parochialism and the poor recognition of the value of women in this society were demeaning. Her staunch determination and her kind Christian values gave her the passion to prepare and teach well.”
My experience with Sylvia has shown me how longevity in the fitness industry is possible.
She always encouraged other instructors to grow to their full potential, often bringing someone along with her to my workshops. I loved that every time Sylvia wanted to enrol in a workshop; I would get a phone call to ensure that everything had been processed correctly and the latest news about her classes and fellow instructors.
Sylvia officially retired this year, and I know that her members, who I am sure have become friends, will miss her classes, enthusiasm, stories and passion for movement. I will certainly miss the beautiful stories about her incredible life and experiences.
To Sylvia: you are one incredible woman, and I am sure glad to have met and learnt from you!