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The Drill: Bofenkamps’ lifestyle proves exercise is for everyone

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WORTHINGTON -- The need for exercise and social interaction, it is said, is lifelong.

But many of us humans, being what we are, are not naturally inclined for action. When we’re young, video games can be more intriguing. Later on, it’s easier to spend our free time on the couch.

Kicking against these prods is the Worthington Area YMCA, and it’s people like Leo and Bobbie Bofenkamp who provide the best answers to the question, “Why the Y?”

Worthington residents Leo and Bobbie are still going strong after 19 active YMCA years. Bobbie (Roberta is her given name) will turn 80 in April, and she engages in pickleball on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, elliptical exercises on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and stationary bikes on Fridays. Through it all, she and her Y friends share coffee and friendliness.

Socialization, say the Bofenkamps, is an important aspect of life at the Y. Leo, who was raised in Ellsworth and who will be 85 in June, jumps right in. Though he has bad hips and a heart valve issue, he is a YMCA regular along with his wife, and knows his way around the weight machines.

The Bofenkamps, besides being seriously health-conscious, are also big fans of the Worthington High School and Minnesota West athletic teams. You’ve surely seen them at a lot of the Trojan and Bluejay basketball games this past winter.

Bobbie also volunteers at the local hospital auxiliary.

We thought the happy and outgoing couple might be good subject matter for The Globe’s weekly Drill feature. You can see the video online at Here’s a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: How important is it to stay active? How do you stay young at heart?

ANSWER (Bobbie): “I have been fortunate between eating correctly, exercising, and genetics, to be very healthy. I’m almost afraid to say that. I’ll be 80 in April, and I didn’t think a person my age could ever do what I do.”

QUESTION: Do you have a philosophy of life?

ANSWER (Leo): “My philosophy of life is staying healthy and active as you can. The Y takes care of that for me, but not only do we come out here for the exercise part of it. The fellowship during exercise and after, we have coffee after our twice-a-week classes … and we get to know everybody, and we all get to know each other by their first names. And I’m always trying to get my senior friends out here.”

QUESTION: What’s the most unusual thing about you that people might not know?

ANSWER (Leo, who attended Catholic school in Ellsworth when he was young): “One unusual thing that most people don’t know about me, I lived near the skating rink in Ellsworth there. It was right behind the school. We had figure skating tournaments the priests put on there, and I won most of them. To this day I wish I could skate (again), but my rear end wouldn’t handle that.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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