TBI Survivor Inspires Sunrise of Louisville Residents With Fitness Classes

By Tim Watt on May 15, 2013

Fitness, flexibility and strength are invaluable for seniors as they age, and no one knows this better than Mary Varga, a senior fitness instructor at Sunrise Senior Living in Louisville, KY. Varga knows what it's like to have her independence and mobility taken away - at 37, the then-new mom and avid runner's car was T-boned by a teenager driving down a residential street. Although her 3-month-old baby was unharmed, she was thrown into a lifetime of disability and rehabilitation, after experiencing severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), the Courier-Journal reports.

The once self-described "gym groupie" lapsed into a two-month coma and was hospitalized for months before needing intensive physical therapy to teach her how to sit, stand and walk. For someone who cherished her independence and fitness so dearly, Varga despised her disability until she decided to become a certified personal trainer and help others find their fitness potential. Teaching seniors at Sunrise, she says, "makes me feel like I've just come alive again."

Although her speech is still slightly altered and she sometimes needs a walker to move, Varga's enthusiasm and resilience serve as an inspiration to seniors at the independent and assisted living community.

"It keeps me limber, and I've got problems with my legs and my arms, and it helps me to keep them going, " Babette "Babs" Lobred, one resident in Varga's "SilverStrength" fitness program, told the news outlet. "Just keeping up with her is challenging. She's something else; she really is. She's a miracle."

SilverStrength is just one of the many programs Sunrise Senior Living communities include in their regular programming to keep residents healthy and strong. Other activities include flexibility and balance classes, dancing, Wii Fit games, walking clubs and more senior-friendly activities.

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