How I got this body: Still waving her magic wand

  • Article by: SHEILA MULROONEY ELDRED , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 9, 2012 - 10:37 AM

Annette Fragale, 76, shares her passion for fitness by teaching yoga, Pilates, Chinese Wand and hula hoop, and she hosts a TV show, "Yoga on the Go!" Oh, and in the summer, she works as a magician.


How I got this Body - Annette Fragale, 75 years, teaches yoga and other forms of excercise including 'Chinese wand', which uses bamboo sticks. In this multiple exposure photo Fragale is seen three times in the process of the movement " horse on a tightrope'.

Photo: Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune

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THANKS, SENSEI "I hated my karate teacher with a passion. I'm an older woman, and he expected me to do exactly what the kids could do. Every week, I said I wasn't going back. When somebody's hard on you, you'll thank them later. And I do thank him until this day. Everything is easy after you've done karate."

ANCIENT ART "Chinese Wand is about 5,000 years old. I don't know anyone who teaches it except me. I found a book at the thrift store that was written in 1977. It shows in great detail the exercise system. It was only practiced by the nobility in China.

"The poses have names like Peeling the Octopus, Chinese Opera Bows, Horse on a Tight Rope and Rolling the Panda. The wandmaster would come to the palace with these methods that were considered preventive. As long as the emperor and his family stayed healthy, the wandmaster would get paid. If a student got sick, the wandmaster wouldn't get paid, and if the student died, the wandmaster would perhaps be buried with him.

"Each student had a wand made of bamboo embedded with copper for its healing qualities. The details about deep breathing are not that different from Pilates. You're moving parts of the body you would not normally move. It works on agility, strength, coordination and posture.

"In our society, we strive to build large muscles to have the appearance of a healthy body. In Chinese Wand, we think it's more important to be healthy from the inside."

ELECTRIC SLIDE? "Line dancing is back. I'm getting young people -- ninth-graders -- in class. It's very exciting to me. We combine all kinds of genres of music: country, rumba, salsa, waltz, swing, bluegrass."

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT "I started teaching hula hooping at 70. In class, I first let them get used to the hoop. Then we do the YMCA, the Yellow Rose of Texas, the Hokey Pokey. We use the hoop as a weight and do yoga with it. The 90 minutes fly by. We throw balls back and forth while hooping. It's the most fun of anything I teach.

"I learn a lot from other teachers, but I love teaching. I love seeing what the students can accomplish. I tell them that everybody's body is different; don't look at everyone else because you're all going to look different when you do it."

KEEPING BUSY "I've been teaching 12 classes a week plus biking and rollerblading. And I have a scooter. I bought scooters for my 11 grandkids and me, and we go out on trails. People look and say, 'Isn't she cute?' I also have a trampoline I use almost every day when I'm watching 'Jeopardy.'"

BETTER THAN MAGIC "I'm in very good health; I haven't been to a doctor in 40 years. I don't take anything. I think exercise is the best form of medication you can do for yourself. I'm truly a late bloomer!"


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