Profile: Holly Wiley
Holly Wiley's noontime exercise classes have achieved a cult-like following on the MSU campus."
Many people in her aerobics and hardcore yoga classes have been sweating with her since she began leading classes close to a quarter century ago.
For the instructor in the department of kinesiology, the classes are more than improving physical health. They feel like gatherings where everyone wants to improve together. "Family" is the word longtime devotees to Wiley's classes use to describe them.
One participant's 80-year-old parents attend the class each time they visit Mississippi.
The class meets each weekday in the Sanderson Center with a mix of faculty, staff and students. While each person has different characteristics, they all have things in common, especially this: they leave negativity somewhere else.
"Great form; you're looking strong," Wiley often says during the yoga class. "If your arms feel fatigued, join the club."
Encouragement and positivity, or the lack of it, have roots in Wiley's lifelong pursuit of good health.
"When I was fifteen, somebody called me frail," she said. "That's all it took. I like to be considered strong."
A few years after the "frail" comment, Wiley began teaching aerobics classes and never stopped. Even as a faculty member, she has always made time for the class.
"It's become my stress release," she said. "And I can't live without these people."
Dedication runs deep on both sides of this teacher and student relationship. Vivian Miller, a professor in the department of mathematics and statistics, has attended the classes for 20 years.
Miller said the atmosphere in the classes is based on people improving together. She and others in the class say they're all friends, even family, and appreciate the nurturing environment Wiley creates.
"We're very supportive of one another," Miller said. "People come to be near her sunshine."
Next week … Amelia Treptow !