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Stacy Witthoff: Making fitness a way of life

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Stacy Witthoff leads an exercise using weights as resistance.
Stacy Witthoff is a born-and-bred Marco Islander, and is also a Realtor.

Ironically, fitness instructor Stacy Witthoff didn't have much interest in any kinds of physical activities or sports until she found herself in 8th grade at school.

"Then I started tennis, and became extremely competitive," she says. "After that it was training four hours a day, and it ended up with our doubles team going to State."

She also developed an interest in softball, golf and swimming.

The upshot is that Witthoff eventually ended up with a college-level instructor certification, and for the past 18 years has been an early morning fixture at the YMCA of South Collier (Marco Y).

Workout sessions, which Witthoff tailors to all fitness levels, consist of high and low impact exercises that include stretches, calisthenics using body weight; push-ups and training weights.

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Drop in on one of those 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. classes on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday, and you'll immediately become aware of her energy and the way she transfers it to her participants.

On this particular morning, the choice of music is pulsating rap, providing an aural framework for the rhythmic workout sessions.

Witthoff, while not as publicly visible as some of her colleagues who work regular hours, loves promoting fitness and health.

And indeed camaraderie.

"A lot of people in my classes have developed amazing friendships," Witthoff says. "They get together outside the Y. It's also been great for new people moving to the area."

Shelli Connelly has been with the class since Witthoff kicked it off in 2001, armed with college level instructor certification (from FSU).

On-site classes have resumed since the recent easing of restrictions.

"I love Stacy's energy," says Connelly, who likes working out early before heading to her day job managing her own cleaning company. "There's not a day that I haven't been challenged."

A couple of years prior to becoming a mom for the first time (in 2001, son Ryan is now a college student), Witthoff also instructed at the Y, concentrating more on boot camps, kick boxing and spinning.

Over the past few months, Witthoff says, the pandemic forced some adaptation (she chose virtual class workouts), but the easing of restrictions has now enabled her to resume classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with the appropriate precautions. Details on how to participate are available from the Y.

Cindy Love-Abounader, the Y's CEO, is impressed by Witthoff's early-bird staying power, and says she's also always willing to help the Y in the background.

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"We are blessed to have a Y team member whose dad (Marv) helped start the Y and also served as Y president. Stacy was a Y kid and is now a Y supporter."

By day, Marco born-and-bred Witthoff works along with her brother Scott Needles as a Realtor with The Needles Group under the umbrella of John R. Wood Properties.

Their dad Marv is himself a long-serving Realtor who cut his teeth working with the original Marco Island developers, the Mackle Brothers.

Witthoff's husband Curt has worked in a variety of educational fields. They also have a daughter, Mia.

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For more on the Y's wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit marcoymca.org or call 394-YMCA (9622). Follow on Twitter at ymcamarco; on Facebook @marcoymca, and Instagram at ymcamarco.