Born to Soar
What amazed me most is that at age 87, Helen Glenn does not have one ache or pain. Both Helen and her doctor attribute this to her love of exercise and the fact that she still works out six days a week. "I'm grateful that I'm as healthy as I am at this age. It makes life simpler and better-feeling good-no one wants to feel bad," exclaimed Helen humbly.
However, Helen's wellbeing is not in tack due to luck, and cannot be wholly attributed to good genes; Helen made a decision many years ago to take care of her body through exercise and clean-eating, and it's paying off. "I've heard that one hour of exercise gives you a month of longevity," Helen added.
Born in Dundee, Scotland, Helen, and her family, arrived in America when Helen was five-years-old. Coming through Ellis Island, the family settled on the North Shore of Long Island, NY, which was considered the country at the time. With four younger brothers, Helen grew up a tomboy through and through. However, when she reached high school, she discovered ballet. She fell in love with this graceful art that she had not known existed. She had always been very shy, but somehow she could open up through ballet. While she knew she had started too late to turn her love of this dance into a professional dance career, she decided to study to teach ballet instead, opening a studio in East Setauket on Long Island. She remained there until her husband's career beckoned them to move south.
Helen is somewhat of a first lady. She and her husband, Goldie, moved to Savannah years ago with a purpose. Goldie, a naval aviator and aviation specialist, was the hired gun to come down and close the Grumman Aerospace Corp plant. Instead, he actually gave the company new wings in which to make it soar again, and Helen was off looking for opportunities to soar of her own. She found Savannah had many ballet studios, but saw a need in the exercise arena. She opened L'exercise, a studio for exercise on Congress Street, while remaining very involved and passionate as a volunteer with the Savannah Ballet and Symphony. Goldie went on to become president of Gulfstream, Savannah's largest employer.
Life naturally moves on and changes, of course, with time. As the Glenn's wound down their careers, they moved to Hilton Head Island. However, Helen had no intentions of a stagnant retirement. She's just happier in motion. "The classes relax me. I can be still and center myself. I love to stretch.I think I was a cat in another life!" Helen said laughing. She explores and challenges herself in many ways. One way is that she learned German at age 80. Another is that she continues to grow in her workouts. Most recently, she has begun practicing mat Pilates and aerial yoga. "Mat Pilates is like doing ballet on your back. It makes you stronger and your core strong," she explained. But what in the world is aerial yoga? Another way to soar.literally! Read on.
Aerial Yoga is how my path crossed with Helen Glenn's. I saw a picture that Suzette Springer, former Cirque du' Soleil performer and now owner of Move and Motion Studio on Hilton Head Island, posted of Helen in an aerial yoga pose on Facebook. I was amazed; I had no idea anyone was doing that sort of thing here in the Lowcountry, much less an 87-year-old.
Aerial Yoga is where one does traditional yoga poses suspended in silk fabric that hangs from the ceiling. "It's a wonderful feeling. You have to completely trust, and it's a very slow way of moving," explained Helen. "I thought I'd never be able to do that. I'm too old. But you got to try things. If they don't work, they don't work; but you can't be afraid to try."
Family: Married 68 years to Goldie Glenn, four daughters, eight grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren
Huge accomplishment: Her youngest two girls are twins. At only 5'1" she carried them full-term and they were born weighing 6 lbs. 4oz. and 6 lbs. 8 oz.
Greatest assets: A positive attitude
and a loving husband
Philosophy on aging: "Many are afraid to get old, but if you're healthy it's great because you don't care what anyone thinks, and you can say no with ease!"
Enjoys: Baking, sewing, gardening and knitting.
Best thing she ever did: "I had a knee replacement. I can do everything now. It only lasts 20 years, though."
Goldie is fascinating, too: Read more about Goldie at www.islandpacket.com/2011/04/02/1606060/a-love-of-aviation-helped-hilton.html