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SENIORS GET MOVING

Arkansas State Police Trooper Mary Minor leads SilverSneakers exercise classes

BY JOHN LOVETT//Times Record

Mary Minor knows how to keep people moving ... on the highway and in the aerobics studio.

The Arkansas State Police senior corporal and retired Army platoon sergeant has a reputation for motivation at Cardio Studio, where she teaches 5:20 a.m. spin classes and 10 a.m. light aerobics for the SilverSneakers Fitness program several times a week.

When she's not fulfilling her main job's motto of "to protect and serve," she carries another one that rounds it all out: "Get fit, have fun, make friends," Minor said between workouts as her SilverSneakers students filed in Thursday.

As an Arkansas State trooper, Minor is entering her 23rd year of service.

"Cpl. Minor is one of our hardest-working troopers in west Arkansas," Capt. Jason Aaron, Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division, Troop H commander, said in an email. "Along with her love for physical fitness, she has a compassionate soul and her unselfish kindness speak volumes. As an Arkansas State trooper for the past 22 years, she has worked to keep the highways safe and off-duty she continues her work dedicated toward helping the citizens of her community."

"She lights up the place," Cardio Studio owner Jennifer Bauman said of Minor. "She's vibrant, beautiful and everybody loves her. She's just a super person, and a great role model for women. She has integrity. She has character. She's educated and holds down a high-power position."

Minor also holds a lot of respect in the community, and she is all smiles in the studio but "all business on the highway," Bauman added. That's where the two met about 16 years ago after Bauman's niece was involved in a traffic accident and Minor worked the scene. Bauman said she had already heard about Minor and wanted to be friends, so she sat down in her patrol car and started to talk.

Mary Minor, center, leads a SilverSneakers Fitness program at Cardio Studio in Van Buren Thursday. She is also an Arkansas State Trooper and retired Army sergeant. JOHN LOVETT/TIMES RECORD

"She thought I'd lost my mind," Bauman said of her first encounter with Minor.

Bauman said she breezed through the class so she put in her front and let her roll with it.

"She gets up there and has the biggest grin on her face," Bauman said. "She goes through 900 calories in 40 minutes just like that."

June and Jim Johns of Alma have been attending Minor's SilverSneakers Fitness class three times a week since the program started at Cardio Studio in 2006. Jim Johns just turned 84, his wife noted. Both said the classes have helped them stay active.

In her second week as a student in Minor's Silver Sneakers class, Sally Ferguson says she "loves it." Paula Moore has been going for two months now and also says Minor is "very good." Minor has taught classes at Cardio Studio for 16 years.

"It's fun. She makes it fun," Ferguson said of Minor's infectious enthusiasm.

As Minor puts it, "When I work out, I just want to have fun and enjoy it and have a good time."

A native of New Orleans, Minor entered the Army right out of high school in 1981 and joined the military police. Her other option was to become a paratrooper and she couldn't find sense in jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, she said. In 2005, Minor retired with 23 years of service in the Army as an instructor in a variety of places, including Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

SilverSneakers Fitness program is covered by many insurance plans. It was founded in 1992 by Mary Swanson, to provide access to fitness and wellness.