As part of the new web series, The Role Model In You — here is the most recent interview. The Role Model In You series discusses how individuals were influenced as a child to lead a healthy lifestyle. It covers who influenced these individuals, the changes they made in their life to be healthy, and the message they would like to convey to the youth of today. Our guests include doctors, soccer stars, Super Bowl champions, NBA players, Olympic gold medalist, entrepreneurs, celebrities, and just regular people looking to share their story. We hope you enjoy it!
1. Your name, title, and age? What do you do (or did you do) for a living?
Val Gokenbach DM RN MBA, 60 years old. I began my life as a professional dancer that went into nursing to have a good job. I loved the nursing career but wanted to merge my love of movement so I opened a dance studio. A hockey accident sent me to the gym where I began to lift weights and I ended up becoming a competitive body builder and buying a gym. I then got into aerobics and worked for AFAA traveling and certifying aerobic instructors. I ended up writing a book called Tap Dancing Through Life: Seven steps to finding your rhythms and the life of your dreams. I also did a series of exercise videos that I sold on QVC and actually ended up selling many wellness products for about 7 years. I have been invited back to look at more products this year which I am excited about. I was also voted Health Magazines, Fitness Crusader of the Year. Today I teach several dance and exercise classes and also maintain my other career which is working with famed author Mitch Albom running his clinic for homeless and uninsured women and kids in Detroit and helping manage the health of the kids in his Have Faith Haiti Mission in Port Au Prince Haiti.
2. Who was the person that inspired you as a child to eat healthy and stay fit? What was their relationship to you?
I have to say Jack Lalane. I exercised with him and my mom while watching TV as a kid. I had the honor of traveling with Jack and his lovely wife Elaine and his son when I was asked to do a fitness presentation for CURVES and he was the keynote and featured celebrity. I was so inspired!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
3. What did they do to inspire you?
He lived and breathed the lifestyle. When we would go out to dinner on this tour he would never drink alcohol, he ate only good foods, he exercised till I was tired and he got plenty of sleep. He also dedicated his life to helping others improve theirs which started me on my quest to do the same and give back for all I have been given.
4. How did their lesson change your life?
I became a more caring person. Especially as he became older, he never stopped which has inspired me to teach kick-boxing, step and other high intensity classes to others in a gym setting. I have people guess that I am in my 30s and I am really 60 this year.
5. Do you convey their message to kids in your life presently?
Absolutely, my son and daughter are both diabetic so it was especially important for them to exercise. My son played hockey and still works out daily with his wife. My daughter was a competitive dancer and does what she can to keep in shape.
6. What would be your main message to children today to lead healthy lifestyles?
Kids love life! In order to continue to live long lives you need to care for yourself and to be healthy. Exercise is magic! I heals, it reduces stress, it makes you feel good, it keeps you in control and makes your body stong.
7. Do you have a web site you would like to promote….web address only?