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2015 Greatmats National Aerobics Instructor of the Year

By Created: June, 2017 - Modified: October, 2023

2015 was a big year for 74-year old fitness addict Jeanette Raichle of Owatonna, Minnesota. In the last three months alone, the grandmother of 15 was named 2015 Polka Queen and most recently the .

Path to greatness

A former health and physical education teacher and substitute teacher, Jeanette didn't get the idea to start teaching aerobics until she was well into her 60s when her daughter bought her a 2-month water aerobics package at a local fitness center.
''In the water, it makes it easy,'' Jeanette said of the activity, and soon she was asked to teach the class. Before she knew it, Jeanette was teaching more classes than any other instructor at the facility - Owatonna Tennis and Fitness Center, spending 3 hours per day (5 days per week) in the pool, and loving every minute of it.
''I feel good when I exercise,'' she said. ''You've gotta move. It strengthens muscles and bones. ... I've fallen hard and have no broken bones.''

Helping others

She's also seen water aerobics work wonders with some of her students.
''One guy could hardly walk, had no circulation,'' Jeanette said. ''In a few months he was a different guy.''
She said the same man told her she helped him get his life back, stating that he thought he'd be in a wheelchair by now if it weren't for water aerobics.
Seeing people improve their health and tell her about it, helping them develop and better lifestyle and actually having people listen to her makes it all worthwhile, she said.
As for winning the National Aerobics Instructor award, sponsored by Wisconsin-based specialty flooring company Greatmats, this has special meaning. The award was designed to recognize aerobics instructors who have made a positive difference in the lives of their students and community through the virtues of integrity, quality and service. Raichle beat out three other national finalists, nominated by their students and community, ranging in age from 39 to 95.
''It's an honor to know somebody appreciates you,'' she said, and hopes she can inspire people of all ages to give water aerobics a try.

The fitness addiction

When she's not in the water, Jeanette bicycles 10 miles per day, runs 1 mile each day, Polka dances 3-4 times per week and mountain climbs several times per month.
''If I do more, I have more energy and feel better,'' Jeanette said. ''I don't feel like I'm 74. I feel like I'm 34. ... I'm addicted to exercise.''
That addiction is apparently contagious as her husband and eight children are also very physically active. In fact, one daughter is also a fitness trainer using Zumba and Pilates. But Jeanette claims she might still be able to out-dance all of them!
While many people her age are happy to spend their golden years in retirement, Raichle has no intentions of slowing down.
''I plan on teaching for at least another 10-15 years,'' she said. ''Why quit if you like what you do and get paid to do it?''
Jeanette Raichle
Owatonna Tennis and Fitness Center
Owatonna MN 55060