Happy New Year from The Morning Crew

I’ve been a proud resident of Ferguson since 1996 when I bought my house where I raised both my boys, Justin and Jesse. I worked outside my home sometimes seven days a week so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to explore or meet people in my community other than when attending parades, playing in the parks, and things like that. Fast-forward to 2020. My kids are now grown, married, and on their own. I’m now self-employed, and my mom, Jean, is now sharing my home. Just like most everyone, 2020 had an adverse effect on my business and I was shut down and looking for ways to cope. In September of 2020 I began walking around our area parks to fill a new void in my life and mend my mind. As the weather began to turn cold, I started thinking about other options where I could continue my new routine of walking, but not get frostbite. I decided to go check out the Ferguson Recreation Center and I’ve never looked back. I was given a tour and I registered on the spot for a one-year membership. Excited, I started going to the gym the very next morning and that’s where I met so many wonderful, caring people. The first was Willie who I started calling “Gunsmoke” because he always walked on the treadmill, watching that show. We became workout buddies, and he taught me a lot about the machines and how to use them. He doesn’t come here anymore, and I miss seeing him, but I’ve met lots of other great people along the way.

Shortly after I joined, I decided to get a membership for my mom, Jean Conner, as well to keep her active as she’s in her seventies and doesn’t go out much. Her favorite thing to do is walk on the treadmill, now that she knows not to accidentally hit the 12 mph hour button and take off like a rocket! Thankfully, she was able to get the machine slowed down and live to talk about how Joe and I tried to race to her rescue! Join the gym and she’ll tell you all about that experience! Jean is the proud mom of three, grandma of five, and great-grandma of six. She didn’t think she’d like going to exercise every morning with me, but once she started making friends and learning how to use the equipment, she too was hooked. Recent heart issues and being under a doctor’s care has kept her away since November, but everyone asks me about her daily, and I exchange messages back and forth that keep my mom’s spirits high. For people that only see each other for an hour or so each morning, we are kind of a tight-knit little group of friends.

About two months after my mom and I joined, during one of our morning workouts I noticed an employee bringing someone into the fitness center for a tour. After they left, I said, “Hey mom, I think that was Joe Lonero!”. I’d known and seen Joe off and on for many years, even before I’d ever moved to Ferguson. He used to stop for coffee every morning at a gas station where I worked a long, long time ago. Joe started going to the gym to get stronger. He likes to start out on the elliptical and work his way through the labyrinth of machines. He brings encouragement to all of us, rooting everyone on as we sometimes struggle to reach our personal goals. He knows a lot about fitness and is quick to help anyone in need. Most days you can hear him saying “Alright, good, good!” And my personal favorite, “Piece of cake!” after he astounds me by his strength.

Bobbie, the woman I dubbed “Powerhouse”, has made the gym her early morning destination for the past three years. Prior to that, she used to walk outside which she found solitary and didn’t care for the inclement weather. She enjoys her time here not only for the exercise but for the friendly welcoming atmosphere. For her, it’s a place where friendships evolve, and the dedicated early morning regulars always greet each other with upbeat talk and laughter before beginning their morning workouts. Bobbie is glad she discovered what she considers to be one of Ferguson’s treasures.

Madelyn Jamerson started coming to the gym in July of 2015 after she had a stroke. This is where she met her friend Michael. Madelyn has made a lot of friends during the years she’s been coming here, including Raymond Valley and Joanne Schneider. She has two children and two grandchildren. Madelyn keeps coming back to stay fit and healthy and she enjoys the company and sense of community while she works out. Madelyn likes to do a variety of activities here, but her favorite is the stationary spin bike.

Lu Mullen started coming to the gym in August of 2015 through the encouragement of her friend, Madelyn whom she’s known since 2003. Lu moved here from The Philippines thirty-seven years ago and has two daughters and five grandchildren. She comes here because of the people and to exercise and stay fit. Lu enjoys walking on the treadmill, riding the stationary bike, and a variety of other activities. She says it’s nice to have this community. It brings us together and promotes bonding and close friendships. When I asked Michael how long he’s been coming here, he laughed and said, “Too long not to be in shape”! He started coming to the gym seven years ago when he decided he needed to get in shape and since he lives in Ferguson it was close and convenient. He enjoys walking on the treadmill and using the ab machine. I asked him what he gets out of coming to the gym every morning, he told me it’s fun engaging in conversations with the people. He’s proud to say he’s lost some weight, “lose a pound and gain back three” he laughs again. Michael is the proud father of one son, grandfather of three, and great grandfather of three.

Ken Hogshead has been running seriously for forty plus years. My conversation with Ken is a story all its own. His accomplishments and experiences are awesome to say the least. He began running to be able to enter the first McDonnell-Douglas “Run For Fun” that was started by Sandy McDonnell in which participants had to run/and or walk a 10k in ninety minutes. He had such a great experience, he was hooked. He soon joined the St. Louis Track Club and Gateway Athletics to learn more about upcoming events and to improve his training. Ken tries to run every day and does most of his running on the fitness center’s treadmills. He understands that aging has slowed his pace over the years. I am in awe when I watch him run so I can only imagine how fast he was in his prime. Ken said he must accept the facts, but he also accepts the reality that continuing to run and train will allow him to be more active and to enjoy a fuller, healthier life than being sedentary. He is also an avid hiker and I hope to be able to share more of his fascinating story with our readers in another edition.

Ken’s wife Leslie started coming to the gym about a year ago. She used to walk outside, but once she came with her husband and walked on the treadmill for the first time, she decided she liked it better. When asked what keeps her coming back every day she said, “The Group.” She likes that everyone here cares, wonders where you are, and how we tease each other when we show up late. Leslie was out for a while due illness, and she said during that time, she still felt motivated to get back to her gym family because daily Ken would relay to her all our well-wishes, prayers, and asking about her and when was she coming back. She just can’t say enough about the power of community and encouragement we all give to each other. Leslie said some of her highlights about coming here are “Joe is our focal point and cheerleader. Michael always shares a good thought or scripture each morning. Jean is everyone’s cheerleader and keeps us all going, and we miss seeing her every day.” And Leslie surprised me with some fantastic news…she and Ken are expecting their first grandchild due December 25, 2021!

Charles Bolden started coming to the gym in October 2020 because he wants to stay physically fit and improve his mobility and balance. He likes using the free weights and kettle bells. He comes to work out most every morning because he wants to stick to his routine. He has a target goal to lose twenty pounds and he’s already lost eight although he laughed and said “the caveat to that is it went back up, but it’s coming back down again. It’s a battle at sixty-five!”. Oh, we can all relate to that, can’t we?! Charles is proud of his three kids (two girls and a boy) and his four grandchildren. He works hard while at the gym and tends to stay mostly to himself once he arrives and says his good mornings to everyone, but his smile and presence brightens everyone’s day.

April of 2019 is when Theresa started coming to the gym right after she retired. She said she’s always been pretty active and if the weather was bad, she could still use the treadmill and be safe. Theresa prefers the stationary bike because it’s easier on her knees. In fact, she just had a total knee replacement in October and she’s already back and working out like nothing ever happened! She said that going to the gym has helped her lose eighty pounds and keep it off. She also likes to use the free weights and ab machine. Her goals in life are pretty straight forward; to be happy with who she is and enjoy life. She finds the rec center a very expensive, fun way to meet people and live a healthy lifestyle.

Kate Church is our newest morning crew member. She loves comfort food but says “Let’s face it, gaining weight is the other side of that double-edged sword.” Kate recently rediscovered the fitness center and says it’s been a great experience making new friends.” She appreciates the encouragement she receives from the group, but quips “I’m not saying it’s as great as comfort food, but it’s better for me.”

Many of the morning crew come to the gym daily, however we have one that only comes in once every two weeks because that’s all his busy schedule will allow. Martin started coming here about three years ago but then life got in the way. He just started coming back again five months ago. Martin says the gym has great equipment and he also enjoys the great company. The elliptical is his favorite machine but he also likes to do other activities throughout. Martin says he keeps coming back to stay fit.

The Morning Crew – treadmill group

Sharing our story was Leslie’s idea and I’m so glad she brought this to me. To some, the Ferguson Recreation Center is just another building in our city, but for us it’s been so much more than that. It’s a place where you are warmly greeted each morning with a smile by the friendly staff at the desk. The morning staff usually includes George Ulmer, Zaria Carson, Lean Harold, Kathy Schmermund, Maureen Pfeifer, and sometimes we even get to see Jordan Kuechenmeister, Dave Musgrave, and Cindy Eskew. And most every morning you will find Marvin maintaining the building, making the floors shine, keeping everything clean and safe.

So often, at the end of a year, we tend to reflect on our lives and habits and strive to make resolutions of self-improvement for the new year. If you are considering getting into shape, reaching a certain fitness or weight goal, or just looking for a fun place to meet new people, the morning crew would like to encourage you to give the Ferguson Recreation Center’s Fitness Center a try!


110 Church Street
Ferguson, MO 63135
(314) 524-5197



facebook_lg twitter_lg