- Associated Press - Saturday, March 4, 2017

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Surrounded by college boys 70 years younger than her, Betty Wilkins used weight machines on a dreary, overcast Monday morning.

It wasn’t even 9 a.m. Some students were likely still in bed during their day off for Presidents’ Day.

But the 88-year-old was already up and going, wearing a pink jacket, tight black workout pants and wide-rimmed glasses.

Wilkins exercises at the College of Southern Idaho’s Student Recreation Center in Twin Falls three times a week - usually for an hour each time - doing cardio and strength workouts.

Plus, she participates in the college’s “Over 60 & Getting Fit” program three times a week and Zumba classes twice a week.

Wilkins is “an inspiration for many of us as she comes in to the gym on a regular basis,” CSI recreation director John Twiss wrote in an email to the Times-News.

She has checked into the recreation center 760 times since September 2009, Twiss said. And that doesn’t include more than 60 classes.

Wilkins has lived in the Magic Valley for most of her life. She went to school in Castleford and Buhl. After getting married, she and her husband lived in California and Nevada.

But they moved back to the Magic Valley in 1982 and settled in Bliss. And in 1997, they moved to Twin Falls.

After her husband died in 2000, Wilkins decided to start coming to CSI for workouts.

“I’ve always been active,” she said.

Wilkins wanted to stay in shape, be able to take care of herself and stay in her own home.

In January 2001, she started going to exercise classes through then-professor Jan Mittleider’s “Over 60 & Getting Fit” program.

Then, Wilkins started going to the student recreation center. “It was mostly young college guys,” she said.

But she didn’t mind. “It didn’t bother me,” Wilkins said, adding that she lets other exercisers “do their own things.”

And for 16 years, it has been part of her normal weekly schedule. She said she tries to exercise early in the day before she gets distracted by reading or other activities at home.

Over the years, Wilkins has noticed a wider demographic of people exercising at CSI’s recreation center, too.

What keeps her going?

“I know a lot of people here,” Wilkins said Monday after finishing her workout. “It’s social for me.”

Thanks to exercising, Wilkins said she doesn’t seem to get sick. Plus, “I’m stronger than when I started (going to) the gym.”

When she’s not at CSI, you can find Wilkins reading just about any book she can get her hands on. She also enjoys going out to lunch with friends, doing jigsaw puzzles, and catching up with out-of-town family members and friends via Facebook.

She has also done international traveling, such as to Canada three times, Mexico and Peru.

What’s next for Wilkins? She plans to continue exercising. And she’ll celebrate her 89th birthday in April.

___

Information from: The Times-News, https://www.magicvalley.com


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