Fitness teacher Janice Lennard, 72, can’t stop moving

Barrett Newkirk, The Desert Sun 4:50 p.m. EDT September 1, 2015

Janice Lennard moves like a dancer. Not the 72-year-old dancer she is, but any dancer in her prime.

Her graceful motions draw people to her fitness classes. At World Gym in Palm Desert, some of her students are decades younger, but Lennard is hardly the oldest person in the room. Sometimes people come and sit in the back. They’re not there for exercise; they just like watching her move.

“She’s a beautiful example of fitness,” said Madonna Marman, 75, of Palm Desert, who attends a Lennard yoga class most weeks.

Though she moves with the magnificent fluidity characteristic of a seasoned dancer, Lennard never danced professionally. She is a woman who started dance classes at age 7 in New Orleans and never stopped. Dance and fitness wasn’t a job until she started teaching in the Coachella Valley 10 years ago.

Nineteen women and one man followed Lennard’s lead in a one-hour class starting with arm movements and quintessential classic ballet plies before transitioning to Hatha yoga poses. Through every demonstration, Lennard had the flattest back, the deepest stretch, the most fully extended leg.

“I guess you just get a little better each time,” she said between the yoga class and a Pilates session later in the morning.

Lennard hopes her students get that message, especially those who think they’re too old, weak or out of shape to take a class with someone as fit as she is.