Meet Pat Perry: Sky’s the Limit for the Former Firefighter and Current Road Runner
You never know who you’ll meet at Blue Skies of Texas. Residents come from diverse backgrounds and have led amazing lives. Meet Pat Perry, a retired firefighter who continues to take her fitness to new levels.
When Pat first moved to Blue Skies of Texas in San Antonio last year at age 62, she was surprised to find that she had promptly gained 15 pounds. “It was like starting college all over again,” she laughs. It took a little time to get used to a new lifestyle and eating on a meal plan. She knew she had to make some adjustments to lose that pesky “Freshman 15” by getting into a new exercise regimen.
Dusting Off Those Sneakers
Before retiring, Pat had been a runner for 40 years. She led a very active lifestyle as a firefighter with the Colorado State Forest Service. “I worked out in the woods all time, so I had to be in good shape,” she says. Originally from Austin, Texas, her father was in the Air Force, and so her family moved around a lot. Pat eventually attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins and majored in forestry. With the Forest Service, she worked on timber crews, fought fires in Wyoming and Montana, and did administrative work. Firefighters like Pat treat tens of thousands of acres of forestland each year and help communities improve forest health by providing education and wildfire risk reduction and management.
Pat met fellow Blue Skies resident and running guru Colonel John MacIntyre, who encouraged her to join his run-walk group, the Seasoned Soles. “I had run all my life, so I got really energized again about doing more than walking,” says Pat. In August 2020, John completed his 100th half marathon and is well-known for helping residents get moving.
She began a run/walk interval training program designed by John, as well as a total conditioning class with Hope Santos, the Wellness and Life Enrichment Manager at Blue Skies. She now runs two or three days per week with the Seasoned Soles, takes Hope’s conditioning class three days a week, and swims weekly in an aqua fitness class.
Easy Access to Age-Appropriate Exercise
Blue Skies makes it easy for people to stay active by providing support, encouragement, and easy access to exercise options. The West Campus sits on several hundred acres but is designed so that no matter where you are, you’re never more than a five- or 10-minute walk from the main building, where an array of fitness classes are held. Even when COVID temporarily shut down in-person classes in early 2020, Pat tried something new: Zumba, which was offered via Zoom online video meetings. “They make it very easy and convenient,” says Pat.
Online or in person, the fitness instructors are always enthusiastic and encourage residents to attend. Instructors are professionally trained in various elements of exercise science and ensure classes are safe for seniors.
At 63, Pat is one of the younger class participants. “We have people in their late 80s and early 90s who are all doing the same class, and the instructors are experts in making sure that nobody injures themselves, reminding you to go at your own pace, maybe modifying certain exercises to keep us from getting too wild,” says Pat. It’s easier to keep going when you know that an exercise program has been tailored to meet your needs so that you won’t get hurt.
The personal attention and social aspect of the fitness groups are what keep Pat coming back. It’s a time to visit with friends and stay connected.
A Second-Generation Resident
Pat’s parents moved to Blue Skies in 1988 when the community was called Air Force Village and was still fairly new. Over the years, she frequently visited them.
“I really liked the whole philosophy of a continuing care community,” she says. “Their whole reason for moving here was so that they were taken care of, whatever level of care they needed, for the rest of their life.”
Pat knew that she wanted to live there eventually, too. Back in the early days, you needed to be retired military, which she was not. But in recent years, Blue Skies updated its policies and now anyone who meets the age requirement is eligible. Now Pat lives in a cottage just down the road from mom and dad. “I thought, I might as well move here at a younger age versus going somewhere else and coming here later.”
Staying Connected and Enjoying the Ride
“It’s kind of crazy, but you always hear retired people say they’re busier in retirement than when they were working,” she says. “And it really turned out to be true.”
One of Pat’s new hobbies is playing table games like canasta and dominoes with a small group of close friends. Although she never pictured herself playing cards because it seemed like a retirement cliché – sitting in a rocking chair sipping tea while playing cards – she admits they have a blast.
Pat still drives herself places, but she will sometimes take advantage of the shuttle bus that takes her from campus to the city at night for a concert or other activity. San Antonio is an amazing city with lots to do and see, including museums and other cultural events. “I don’t have to find a place to park, and I don’t have to drive myself in and out. That’s huge,” says Pat.
Little Perks Add Up to Big Value
It’s the small things, like not having to maintain your own lawn or home, that make it a friendly, easy place to live. The Blue Skies campus is private, fenced, and secured. Visitors must check in at a security gate, making residents feel safe.
Moving in at a time when Pat expects to enjoy many years of vitality has been a great decision. It has allowed her to live in a secure home and travel without having to worry about anything. “Everything is right here where it’s taken care of,” says Pat.
Don’t wait to experience the best of senior living here at Blue Skies of Texas. Take a tour, come to an open house, or attend a virtual appointment. Click here or call 866-553-5389 today!