Most Interesting People: Burma Stewart

Fitness instructor, motivational speaker

Age • 69

Why she’s interesting • You should see her scissor kick. She’s nearly 70 years old, but we took one of her Pilates classes and could not keep pace. It’s not just the way she moves; everything about her is energetic. And she wants you, wants everyone, to enjoy the same kind of well being.

Class comments • One woman with the posture of a ballet dancer bends at the waist and presses her palms against the floor. Before Burma, she says she could barely reach past her knees. “I was very slouchy,” she adds. “The core is so important.”

In the spotlight • Essence magazine photographed her for its “Fabulous at Any Age” feature.

On being old • She wouldn’t know. “If you cannot bend, cannot stretch, I call that old age.” Stewart can sit with her legs straight in front of her and touch her nose to her knees.

Her sweet past • Before forming her Body by Burma fitness program in 1993, Stewart sold her famous cheesecake to restaurants across town, from the Terrace Club to the Aurora Inn. “I loved cheesecake. I could eat a whole one.” Of course, she exercised a lot, too.

Secret ingredient • Cinnamon

Her next mission • The increase in obese children struggling with diabetes and hypertension makes Stewart fear that “our children’s longevity will not be as long as ours.” She is planning workshops teaching children fitness, nutrition, meditation and empowerment and hopes to “ignite that passion within them.” She plans to apply for a Civic Innovation Lab grant to help further her work.

Check her out for yourself • Stewart teaches at the Olmsted Falls community center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m.
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