Beyond the Physical

By Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Wendy and Eric Gillett.


t’s hard to overstate how much rowing crew affected Wendy Gillett’s life. 

She met her husband, Eric, when she joined her college rowing team, for one thing. It also became a career, as she has been a professional coach for decades. It even brought her to Ventura County: The mystique of Lake Casitas and its association with the 1984 Olympics was the deciding factor when the couple decided to relocate from Orange County. For love of the sport, they started Casitas Rowing, and since 2008 have been bringing people of all ages, abilities and walks of life together to partake in the unique joys of what Gillett refers to as “the ultimate team sport.”

The story behind Casitas Rowing demonstrates how our physical activities can enhance everything around us: our relationships with others, our motivations and interests, where we live. 

Professional surfer Mary Osborne has built a life beyond the surfboard, while remaining connected to her element. As a surf ambassador for Patagonia, and as a representative for numerous environmental initiatives, including the United Nations Environmental Safe Campaign, she has tirelessly worked to protect and cleanup the ocean environment. She’s also an advocate for women in sports, and a role model to the many young women who participate in her surf camps, where self-confidence and healthy living are as important as catching a wave. 

Pat and Cat Patterson love bicycling. So much, in fact, that in 2002, they grabbed life by the handlebars and pedaled off on a four-year tour of the world. Ten years since their return, the two adventurers — now 77 and 63 years young, respectively — haven’t slowed down much: Long-distance biking and travel continue to be a part of their fitness regimen. They’ve made friends all over the world (many of whom still keep in touch), weathered the inevitable frailties of age with enviable resilience, and even wrote a book about their remarkable journey. In good shape? Definitely. But the fearlessness with which the Pattersons just “get out there” is the true testament to their mental and physical fitness. 

We are told ad nauseam that being active is necessary for good health. But how much better it is when we can exercise more than just our muscles! When mind, body and spirit are in synch, all aspects of our lives enjoy the benefits. And that, I think, is both the key to and point of a healthy lifestyle.


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