Fitness instructor Sondra E. Z. Hines joins


Every journey is different. Mine led me to become an aerobics instructor. Yours will have its own destination.

February 23, 1995, was a horrible day in my life. My mom succumbed to myocardial infarction, commonly referred to as a heart attack.

Like many people, she made countless fitness commitments, spent enormous amounts of money on diet programs and paid hundreds of dollars in gym fees.

She also suffered from high blood pressure, was overweight and led a stress-filled life — all contributing factors to her death.

The news is not all bad. Her death gave life to my quest to live healthier. Soon after my mother’s passing, I decided to stop flirting with fitness and commit to a steady relationship.

I joined a gym and took a variety of aerobics classes, starting with the most advanced.

Because I have four brothers and I’m a former athlete (track and co-captain of my high school basketball team), there remains inside me a competitive streak. I thought I could keep up.

That was a big mistake.


The advanced classes were grueling. At a slender size six, I found that I was out of shape and uncoordinated.

Embarrassed, I hid in the back.

Whenever I thought of quitting, my mother’s spirit kept me going.

The more I tried, the better coordinated I became. I kept pushing myself and soon moved from the back of the class to the front. I abandoned my baggy, ugly, mismatched clothing and bought attractive, comfortable workout attire. I barely missed a class and could soon mimic my instructor’s choreography.

Nearly two years after my mother’s death, I became certified and began teaching my own aerobics class. My repertoire now includes a new certification — Zumba, a workout inspired by Latin dance.

Starting today, I begin this fitness column on Over the coming months I’ll share fitness trends, industry news and offer tips on healthy living. I’ll also take your questions and share your success stories.


My mother’s death continues to inspire me. I eat a healthy diet and get moving when I’d rather sleep. I haven’t abandoned all my favorite foods, but I enjoy them in moderation.

“There’s no magic elixir for a long and healthy life, but exercise comes darned close. So get moving,” wrote Katherine Hobson in a past edition of U.S. News & World Report.

Every journey is different. Mine led me to become an aerobics instructor. Yours will have its own destination.

So stay tuned as we travel this next leg together, and look good in the process.

Remember, “No more excuses.”

Be healthy, be well.

Sondra E. Z. Hines is an adjunct professor of health and wellness at a community college and is certified to teach group fitness and Zumba. Email:

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