When Linda Mercuri-Fischbach signed up for a yoga class four years ago, she had no idea the practice would become such an integral part of her life, a gift she attributes to yoga instructor Kim Zehnder.
“I had never taken yoga or anything like that and I’m in my 70s, so I was a little nervous to attend a class at first,” Mercuri-Fischbach said. “But Kim is such a welcoming person and makes everyone feel comfortable, so I thought right away, “Oh, I can do this.”
Mercuri-Fischbach said Kim Zehnder is a “hidden gem” in the community, so nominating her for recognition as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem was a no-brainer.
“I believe her yoga teaching is a gift she is giving back to the community,” she said.
For Zehnder, yoga serves as an instrumental part of her daily wellness routine. After decades of practicing, both independently and as a student, the decision to teach what she’d learned came naturally.
“I’ve been a student of yoga for about four decades; I took my first class when I was a teenager,” said Zehnder. “I felt like (teaching) was something I wanted to do to be helpful to others because I knew that it had helped me on a number of different levels, not just physically.”
Zehnder teaches two classes weekly at the Kettering Rec’s Charles I. Lathram Senior Center. Her students are older and Zehnder caters to each person’s needs, according to Mercuri-Fischbach.
“Participants are arthritic, have sight issues, anxiety, stress, back, shoulder or hip problems, but all benefit from Kim’s gentle approach,” Mercuri-Fischbach said.
Zehnder said she finds joy in being able to help people “age gracefully.”
“I’m old enough to realize that there are challenges as each decade goes by,” she said. “Not only am I able to help people who come to my classes age gracefully, but it’s helping me do so, as well; it’s very rewarding.”
Teaching at the Rec Center allows Zehnder’s classes to be accessible and affordable for many people, Mercuri-Fischbach highlighted.
“Kim could be making a lot of money offering exclusive, expensive yoga classes independently, but instead she has focused on helping older adults stay healthy,” she said.
Zehnder said something that may make her classes more effective and beneficial for participants is that she incorporates the holistic health science practice of Ayurveda, which she describes as the “sister science to yoga.”
“Because I’m an Ayurveda health counselor, I can also give participants other tips and suggestions that may be minor things that can make a big difference,” Zehnder said, adding that incorporating breathing exercises is a big part of it, too. “I love sharing all of it, not just the poses.”
Mercuri-Fischbach said the benefits she gains from weekly classes with Zehnder can be seen and felt in most areas of her life.
“We see the health and wellness results in our daily lives,” she said. “Not only are we physically stronger and more flexible, we are calmer and more emotionally centered after a class with Kim.”