Beejay Janiga is doing more than just aging gracefully. She’s teaching a few others to do the same and then some. The 85 year old fitness instructor who knows the names of each of her students teaches classes at the Tustin Area Senior Center 5 days a week and forbids the use of the word “old” in her classes.
Though most of her students are younger than their instructor, they still adore her. It is her joie de vivre that inspires them. She dabs on pink lipstick before class, then laughs and hugs her students, giving off the young at heart persona she is known for.
Her classes incorporate stretching, cardio and weight training. She keeps things fresh adding resistance bands and even hip hop moves. In one class, she led 61 “mature adults” as she calls them in routines to lively music that has been known to include Usher and other modern artists.
Janiga has also been known to incorporate other dance moves, taken from the dance troupe she leads, to liven up routines. Squats, marching and arm swinging are all part of her programs that keep her fluid and active.
The classes Janiga teaches are offered as part of the Irvine Valley College’s emeritus program. Having earned a degree in physical fitness from San Diego State, she married and had a daughter. Getting back in shape after the baby led Janiga to her local YWCA. It wasn’t long before she was asked to instruct classes there herself. Sixty years later she is still teaching fitness classes. Now they include Pilates, chair exercises and movement.
Janiga has no plans of stopping and her students are delighted. Sylvia Lund began taking classes from Juniga in the 1970s at the Santa Ana YMCA and at 69 is still a student of hers. She regularly drives from Placentia to be part of the classes.
For enjoyment, Janiga dances with her troupe of over-55 women who began dancing together 22 years ago. For her, a vacation is when she gets to learn something new. There’s no stopping this little dynamo.