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Super Senior: Lee Casagrande

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 11:21 AM EDT
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ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - Class is about to start at Pilates by Heidi and Lee Casagrande is instructor Heidi Broome’s star student.

Held at the Saint Johnsbury Unitarian church, Casagrande’s spirit lifts the class of mostly seniors. “Lee is loved by so many,” Broome said.

So with masks off and mats down, it’s time to get busy. “Exhale lower,” Broome instructs. “Reach the arms up and hold them there.”

Pilates is a method of low-impact exercise that focuses on flexibility, core strength, and balance, with an emphasis on breath control.

The Peacham resident has been coming to the class twice a week for the last 20 years. She’s Broome’s longest and oldest member. “I feel like a new person at the end,” Casagrande said.

The class on this day is also a celebration of another sort -- Casagrande is turning a remarkable 90-years-old.

“Thank you for being such an influence to all of us, and I truly love you,” Broome said. Casagrande is more than just her student, she has become more of a mother figure and a role model. “{Her) coming here means so much to me.”

“Actually, I thought -- I wonder if I should ask Heidi not to do the exercises I can’t do, because there are a couple I can’t do anymore,” Casagrande said. “And then I thought, no, it would be good to demonstrate that you can do Pilates at any age. Even if you have to give up on some things, there’s still plenty of things you can do.”

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you think I should take this class?

Lee Casagrande: Absolutely. You would love it.

That’s debatable. But not in question is Casagrande’s youthful appearance.

Reporter Joe Carroll: She doesn’t look 90 does she?

Heidi Broome: No, she does not.

“If you would like to sing with me, we shall,” Broome suggests to the group. It’s no sweat, as the class celebrates Casagrande’s birthday in the usual way.

“Thank you all for coming out and being so nice to me,” Casagrande said.

It’s far from a stretch to say Cassagrande is an inspiration.

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