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She got her life back

Farmington Resident Deb Horne is a fan of this elliptical machine and the impact it has had on her quality of life over the past year.

Many people use Farmington's Rambling River Center as a hub of their social lives. Farmington resident Deb Horne credits the senior center and its fitness facility for giving her life back.

A little more than a year ago, Horne's body was a wreck. Four years of building and then losing the coffee shop she owned in St. Paul had taken its toll. She worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week standing behind the counter in addition to doing the accounting and other work she had to do. She was stressed and her body was showing the signs. By the time she finally closed her doors and sold off her equipment she couldn't bend over, she had trouble walking and she was well on her way to a heart attack.

"I couldn't walk more than 10 minutes and my muscles would seize up on me," Horne said.

Then, in May, she saw something in the city's news letter about Rambling River Center. At 59 she didn't consider herself a senior -- she still doesn't -- but she qualified for membership and since she couldn't afford to pay for a membership at a gym she decided to check it out. In the months since, she's worked closely with Dick Lenz, a Rambling River Center member who volunteers to introduce newcomers to the fitness equipment and who more recently has started serving as a personal trainer for Rambling River Center members. He helped her develop a fitness program and helped her put it into action. For the past year she's worked out five times a week at the center.

Improvements came slowly at first. Horne said the first two weeks were a challenge. But things got noticeably better as she progressed.

Now a year later, the results are remarkable. Her flexibility has improved. She's able to take walks with her friends. She feels better than she has in a very long time.

"As far as I'm concerned, this saved my life," Horne said. "I'm probably in better health than I've been the last 20 years of my life."

Along the way, Rambling River Center has become an important part of Horne's life. Because she still only has a part time job she has used the center to get her eyes and her blood pressure checked. She's taken advantage of day-old bread available on Mondays. She uses the center's computers to get online.

She still moves in different social circles than most of the center's members, most of whom are older than she is, but she considers many of them friends.

Horne has also become a regular volunteer at the center. She greets visitors from behind the reception desk, and she helped with the renovation of the center's current building.

After everything she's gotten out of her membership, she figures it's the least she can do.

"If they need me for something, I help," she said. "I enjoy giving back because I've received more than I thought I would."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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