Laura Hinrichsen laughs when you asks if she’s Wonder Woman.
“I still mow my own lawn. I still scoop my own snow,” she says.
Not bad for someone who’ll turn 79 on Feb. 2.
She also teaches water and fitness classes at the Fremont Family YMCA and plays tennis.
Not bad either for someone who didn’t start playing tennis until she was about 48 or learn to swim until she was 58.
At 8 a.m. Monday, Hinrichsen was already busy teaching swimsuit-clad students in a pool at the Y. Smiling and encouraging, she led the class of more than 20 through a series of exercises.
As for herself, Hinrichsen exercises at least two hours every day.
“I enjoy it and I know it’s good for me and it gives me a lot of social time,” she said.
Hinrichsen’s enjoyment of exercise and activity began years ago.
Born in Big Spring, Texas, she was just 3 when her mother died. Her dad, who was a carpenter, reared Hinrichsen and her three siblings.
She and her siblings played softball, rode bikes, foot raced, made and walked on stilts.
“I hiked every day for miles,” she said. “We had a mountain about 10 miles away and we’d hike up on that mountain and back home again. That’s what we did for entertainment.”
Hinrichsen joined the band in fifth grade and played throughout junior and senior high.
She taught baton twirling at her local Y while still in high school.
Hinrichsen met her husband, Tom, when he was stationed at Webb Air Force Base in Big Spring. They married in 1958 and he brought her to his hometown of Fremont a year later.
“I’ve been here ever since and I love it,” she said. “He would have gone back to Texas and I wouldn’t. Even though I miss my family, I like it here too well.”
Tom Hinrichsen was a mailman, made cabinets for contractors and built many houses.
“He kept me moving all the time,” she recalled.
Most of the houses were in Saunders County, where they lived about 40 years. They built three in Fremont, where they’d lived the last 13. She still lives in the last house he built.
The Hinrichsens would have two daughters, Niki and Kelly, five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
And throughout their married life, the Henrichsens would have an active lifestyle and a big garden.
“We’ve always walked,” she said. “We had snowmobiles and boats. We waterskied. Whatever we could do as a family we did.”
She started coming to the Y in 1980, wanting to lose 15 pounds, and began taking aerobics classes. A year later, she started playing racquetball.
When Jerry Rinne, now YMCA president and CEO, came to Fremont to attend Midland University, she began playing racquetball with him.
She started teaching aerobics classes at Fremont Health in 1984 until the hospital began paying half of the price of a Y membership.
Hinrichsen began teaching aerobic classes at the Y.
Since few women were playing racquetball, she played in a Valmont’s men’s league for a couple years. Then one year, water wrecked the racquetball courts at the Y.
“Why don’t you buy yourself a tennis racket and learn to play tennis?” her husband suggested.
So she did.
She signed up for tennis, figuring she’d have two weeks for someone to show her the basics of the game. But in those days, tennis courts were outside and it rained every day for two weeks.
“The first day I ever had a tennis racket in my hand was the first day of league,” she said.
At that time, there were eight courts with players placed according to their ability.“Since I had no ability in tennis, I was the last man on the last court,” she said. “I ended up on the second court, about the sixth man that summer. I’ve been playing ever since.”
She’d participate in United States Tennis Association matches.
“We had two teams here in Fremont,” she said. “I played singles for my team. We played against all of the other surrounding towns. I think the first 10 years I played tennis, we made it to regionals.”
She played on an under-age-50 team. When she turned 50, she played the senior team, too. Her senior team went to national competition one year.
“When I became 60, I played on a Super Senior team. I could play on three teams,” she said.
In the meantime, Hinrichsen began substitute teaching water aerobics for the late Ruth Anne Immell, while continuing to teach her own aerobics classes in the gym.
Then one day while helping her husband cut wood, she stepped in a small hole and tore the meniscus pad in her right knee.
She couldn’t teach classes or play tennis or racquetball, but figured learning how to swim would be good for her. At 58, she began taking the one-time-a-week class and practicing in the pool for two hours each day.
“I just wanted to know I was waterproofed and I wouldn’t drown if I fell off the boat or off the dock,” she said. “I gave myself six weeks to be waterproofed.”
She later was asked to teach water classes at the Y. Meanwhile, her knee got better. She went back to playing tennis and racquetball.
“My knee held out until six years ago,” she said. “I had to have it replaced in 2011.”
She was 72.
“It would never have done that if I hadn’t been in the water all that time,” she said.
She’s taught water classes for about 22 years.
These days, she’s busy teaching water aerobics with between 20 to 30 students and Silver Splash classes with between 15 to 20 students – both on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“People don’t know what the water can do for you,” she said. “I’ve seen so many people come into my classes that have never been in a pool before – a lot of widowed ladies – and I tell them stay by the side where they’re comfortable. Within two weeks, they’re out among the rest of us, enjoying the class and able to do things they never would think of doing on land.
“The water has been very kind to me.”
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Hinrichsen teaches Silver Sneakers in the fitness gym.
“We use chairs and we sit and do exercises,” she said. “We stand and use the chair for balance and do exercises and we use balls. We use rubber bands and weights.”
Hinrichsen’s days get busy. She recalls one day when she taught two classes at the Y, helped an elderly couple move, made her supper and played tennis that night.
Hinrichsen admits she was tired, but points out the benefits of activity.
“Everyone needs to stay active as they age — not necessarily to live longer, but to have quality of life,” she said, adding, “Water is a great way to get back in shape, gently, no matter what age.”
Hinrichsen’s husband died about 1 ½ years ago. She remains grateful for what and who she has in her life.
“I’ve met so many great people through the Y and my classes,” she said, adding, “I thank God for ‘The Good Life’ — good health, good family, good friends.”
It’s no secret that flu season is in full swing, and with flu activity currently occurring across the state, area residents are being reminded to get flu shots and to practice good hygiene to avoid contracting the influenza virus.
According to the Three Rivers Public Health Department, flu activity is currently occurring at a “widespread” level across the state of Nebraska. So far this flu season there have been 62 laboratory confirmed influenza cases in the district counties of Dodge, Saunders, and Washington.
“In the past week and a half or two weeks the number of cases has increased tremendously, so we are what is considered widespread at a state level,” Terra Uhing, executive director of Three Rivers Public Health Department, said. “It is higher than it was last year at this time.”
Three Rivers also does weekly surveillance with long term care facilities, hospitals, and schools for influenza like illnesses to track the flu activity level in the district. According to the department, there has been one reported outbreak at a long-term care facility in the district.
Of the 62 laboratory confirmed influenza cases in the district, 53 were confirmed to be influenza A (H3N2), and 9 were influenza B.In the past H3N2-predominant seasons have been associated with greater severity, especially among young children and adults.
“The main one they are seeing is the H3N2 strain and that strain is known to make people pretty sick,” Uhing said. “So a lot of people wonder if they should still go get a flu shot, and that is still the number one best way to protect themselves from getting the flu.”
Those at high risk for flu related complications are people 65 years or older, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and young children.
“When you are getting flu shots another key aspect to remember is that it is not just for you and your family it is for those that are a high risk of complications so that would be pregnant women, those young children who cannot get the flu shot, and more importantly those with immune compromised systems,” Uhing said. “So at the end of the day all of those factors go into trying to keep our communities healthy.”
Those who haven’t received a flu shot this season are encouraged to contact their local healthcare provider to check for availability. Three Rivers still has a plentiful supply of vaccine; those interested are asked to contact them at (402) 727-5396.
“We have flu shots, some of the pharmacies have flu shots as well as medical providers, but it is not necessarily about where they go to get their flu shot, just as long as they go and get a flu shot,” Uhing said.
According to Uhing, those who are currently experiences flu symptoms, especially a fever, should avoid getting the flu shot but even those who already had the flu and are no longer showing symptoms should still get the shot.
“Because of the flu we have going on right now, even if they think they have had influenza and if they are not running a temperature and showing symptoms I would still go ahead and get the flu shot,” she said. “Who knows how many times we are going to see influenza this year and especially with what we are seeing right now, there is a lot of illness out there. It has peaked quite a bit before when it typically peaks so that makes me wonder if we are not going to see an extended flu season.”
Along with receiving a flu shot, good health habits and simple hygiene practices can go a long way toward preventing the flu and other illnesses such as the common cold.
The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday released its monthly statistics regarding arrests, offenses, accidents and other miscellaneous items the DCSO dealt with during the month of December.
Released information shows that there were 154 total arrests made during November, 24 more than occurred in November.
Two individuals were arrested for misdemeanor assault, one was arrested for felony theft, two were arrested for misdemeanor theft, one was arrested for stealing property, 42 were arrested on drug offenses, 19 were arrested for liquor law violations, 10 were arrested for driving under the influence, 11 were arrested for driving during suspension/revocation, six were arrested for offenses against family/children, one was arrested for vandalism, two were arrested on weapons charges and 57 others were arrested on miscellaneous offenses.
Nine additional offenses were reported during the month of December, one fewer than shown in the DCSO November report. These offenses involved misdemeanor assault, felony theft, misdemeanor theft, offenses against family/children and runaways/missing persons.
In terms of additional action taken by law enforcement: 96 people were cited for traffic violations, 177 traffic warnings were issued, 44 equipment warnings were issued, 28 warrants were served, 21 motorists were assisted by deputies, deputies responded to 30 criminal complaints and officers responded to 161 miscellaneous calls. In total, officers responded to 237 calls.
Traffic citations increased by 81 percent in December – 53 citations were issued in November and 96 were issued in December.
“A lot of that has to do with our guys out there working extra hours because of the “You Drink, You Drive, You Lose” campaign,” Sherriff Steve Hespen said. “That went on, I think, from Dec. 15 through Jan. 1, so half of the month was dedicated to that campaign.”
In addition, accidents that the DCSO responded to increased by 100 percent – there were 11 total accidents in November and 22 responded to in December, released information shows.
In December, 16 of these accident consisted of property damage accidents and six were personal injury accidents. Contributing factors leading to accidents included: failure to yield to the right of way, driving too fast for conditions, following too closely, failing to keep in the proper lane, operating a vehicle in a reckless/careless manner, swerving or avoiding due to wind, over-correction and overall inattention.
Weather conditions and visual obstructions were also cited by the DCSO as reasons for vehicular accidents.
Hespen said that an increase in accidents this time of year can occur because of the weather, but that the one positive he’s seen is that there haven’t been any fatalities as of late and there haven’t been any wrecks caused by impaired driving. There have, however, been an increase in single-vehicle accidents.
“The one thing that we are seeing the most of right now and over the last several months is that there’s been a large increase in one-vehicle accidents, where either the vehicle loses control and goes off the road or strikes another object and loses control,” he said. “A lot of these one-vehicle accidents could be attributed to distracted driving, I would guess, because there has been a large increase over the last several months and we never used to see these kinds of accidents.”