Mary Olsen, a Pilates instructor at Pumps Fitness in Valparaiso, is helping the community stay healthy and strong. She even is helping some small friends that will be buzzing around our flower beds come spring.
Born and raised in Portage, she grew up playing softball and was a member of both the band and orchestra at Portage High School. Olsen has lived in Northwest Indiana all of her life, and she doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
“I love the beach,” she explained. “The fact that we are so close to the beach is one of, if not the reason, I have stayed here all of my life. It’s pretty great.”
After graduating from high school, she took some courses at Purdue Northwest, but her career took her in many different directions.
“I was a hairstylist for 27 years,” Olsen said. “But it wasn’t until about five years ago that I was introduced to Pilates and the BASI Program.”
After a debilitating back injury, Olsen was introduced to Sandy, the previous owner of Pumps Fitness. With five blown disks in her back, Olsen’s doctors gave her two choices: an extensive, multi-level fusion surgery, or Pilates.
“I had blown my back out so badly that I couldn’t walk,” Olsen explained. “My only other option was surgery, and I refused to have surgery.”
So, Olsen started training with Sandy and immediately saw a drastic difference in her well-being. Then, Olsen found out Sandy was leaving Pumps Fitness and because the workouts had done wonders for Olsen, Olsen knew she couldn’t wait around for someone else to do the workouts.
“I thought Sandy was going to send me to some Weekend Warrior type program,” Olsen explained. “I thought I would just buy my own equipment and do the workouts by myself.”
But Sandy had something else in the works.
“Her plan was for me to take over her clients,” Olsen said. “So I enrolled in the BASI course, which is the Body Arts and Science International program. It wasn’t my intention to become a trainer, but I thought to myself, ‘Who else was going to do it?’”
That was five years ago, and Olsen has been at Pumps Fitness ever since. Olsen teaches individual, group classes and some private classes outside of the gym.
“I teach mat classes which are my favorite to teach,” Olsen said. “It’s a Pilates mat workout which focuses on activating and strengthening your core and getting it to work for you.”
And just like Sandy was dedicated in helping Olsen overcome her back injury, she has helped countless men and women control their injuries and pain.
“I have a lot of clients who have physical injuries,” Olsen explained. “So I work with them during our classes to strengthen their bodies. But I also study anatomy so I stay up to date on the best techniques.”
When Olsen isn’t helping someone strengthen their muscles and learning everything she can about the human body, she can be found spending time with her family and her great nieces and nephews and reading every book she can get her hands on.
“I love true crime books,” Olsen said. “But I also love reference and research books. It’s very rare that you won’t find a book in my possession!”
The most noble thing Olsen does, however, is for our little buzzing friends that need as much help as they can get.
“I was a beekeeper for 15 years,” Olsen said. “I think it is such a noble thing to do, even though I am extremely allergic to bees!”
Even though Olsen doesn’t keep bees anymore, she has been part of different organizations like the Lakeshore Beekeepers Association and is an advocate for the yellow and black insects.
“I do everything I can to raise awareness for bees,” Olsen said. “Even though I’m allergic to them, I learned to love it just because of the benefits. Bees need all the help they can get, so I try to get as many people to become beekeepers as I can.”
Bees don’t have anything to worry about with someone like Mary Olsen on their side. Whether it’s a person with a debilitating back injury or a little bee that needs to be protected, she has always been willing to help those in vulnerable situations grow strong.
For more information about Pumps Fitness, go to www.pumpsfitnessinc.com.