Josie Hassler is about as sociable a person as you’ll ever meet.
The 90-year-old resident of La Posada in Palm Beach Gardens never misses the community’s myriad activities.
She’s a regular at these — and plenty of other — games, classes and groups.
But the energetic grandmother of four — who still drives regularly — says there’s one outdoor activity she tends to do by herself: her daily 2- to 3-mile walk.
And not because she doesn’t want the company.
“I go pretty fast — and most people can’t keep up with me,” she explains.
Being able to walk at Hassler’s 16-minute-per-mile pace is not for faint of heart.
Hassler — who’s been a La Posada resident since 2012 — is the embodiment of the on-the-go retiree lifestyle.
The New Jersey native and her late husband Arthur — the couple was married for 66 years before his death in 2016 — moved to Florida in 2001 after originally retiring to Hilton Head, S.C., in 1985. They moved to the Sunshine State in order to be closer to their grandchildren.
Hassler’s family will no doubt be in attendance on Saturday morning, cheering her on as she — and more than two dozen of her fellow La Posada residents — compete in the inaugural Wisdom Warrior Challenge: A Race for the Ages.
No ordinary competition
The Wisdom Warrior Challenge is the brainchild of Linda Borgmeyer, La Posada’s director of rehabilitation — and de facto director of fitness for the active adult community.
“I wanted to create a unique fitness event that would let local seniors do all sorts of different track and field events — instead of just the typical 5K,” she explains. “It’s going to be fun and intimate and we had such a great response when we announced we were doing it.
Indeed, the competition — which is taking place at the Watson B. Duncan Middle School track (5150 117 Court North, Palm Beach Gardens) and will feature numerous senior-centric vendors on-site — has reached its limit of 100 participants.
“But we encourage the community to come out, watch these amazing men and women compete and enjoy all of the festivities,” Borgmeyer adds.
Here are the scheduled track and field events for the 9 a.m. track meet:
- 100-meter dash.
- 200-meter dash.
- 400-meter dash.
- 800-meter dash.
- 1,600-meter dash.
- 4×100-meter relay race.
- Shot put.
Because competitors are allowed to compete in more than one event, Hassler says she’ll probably do both the 800-meter and 1,600-meter races.
After announcing the creation of the Wisdom Warrior Challenge in December, Borgmeyer reached out to her colleagues at other local active adult communities and 55+communities, encouraging them to form teams for some friendly competition.
On Saturday, La Posada will be represented by 26 residents, while Brookdale will have 20 entrants and Mangrove Bay will have 15.
As Borgmeyer explains, the community that tallies the most points based on all finishers’ results will be awarded a trophy that “the community gets to keep for a full year in a place of honor on its property.”
In addition, medals for each age category will be given to first, second and third place for each event as well as a finisher medal for every participant.
Borgmeyer makes it her personal mission to help seniors and the elderly stay as physically active and healthy as possible.
She creates custom-tailored fitness programs that start with a full assessment in which she learns about the person’s physical history — and any limitations he or she may have.
She also learns what the person’s lifestyle preferences are.
Then she formulates a personalized “exercise prescription” that makes use of La Posada’s state-of-the-art fitness facilities and prioritizes improving strength, endurance, flexibility and balance.
She also leads high-intensity fitness training classes and emphasizes to residents the need for physically challenging exercise.
As she explains, “No matter how old a person is, if he or she starts a safe, supervised exercise program, that person’s strength, endurance and flexibility will improve.”
To prepare her two dozen-plus charges for the rigors of Saturday’s timed events, she oversaw twice-weekly “practices” at a makeshift “track” she created on the La Posada grounds.
“We measured the exact distances so each person would know exactly how it felt to go the distance of the event, or events, they’re entered in.”
She also timed them so everyone could track their improvement.
“Linda is wonderful,” says Hassler of her “track coach.”
She credits Borgmeyer with always “keeping us motivated, challenged and — most importantly — having fun.”
On Saturday morning at the Wisdom Warrior Challenge at Watson B. Duncan Middle School, that will be on full display for the whole world to see.