Sunday, January 1, 2017

Featured Client - Claudia Kopel 71 years young!

Many times we get clients who inspire us to live more fully than we could ever inspire them. If you have ever had a class with Claudia or run into her in the studio then you know exactly what we mean.  If you haven't had a Claudia experience, well then you are missing out and need to correct that ASAP!  At 71 years old she often out does the college kid, the young mom, and even us.  She never places a limit on what she can or can not do, she just jumps in full throttle and kicks ass.  As an instructor when you see her name on your class roll, noo matter how tired you are, you'll deliver the best class possible.  Her outlook on life pushes you to do better, be better, and enjoy every minute.  So Happy New Year, we couldn't think of a better client to feature and kick off 2017 than this majestic lady.  Her answer to the most inspiring client at Twisted Bodies is spot on, ladies and gentleman take note.

Age Is A Number NOT A Limit
Caludia Kopel

Hi!  I'm Claudia and I am so happy to be a part of the Twisted Bodies family.  It has been a "long and winding road" to get here. 

I was born and raised in a small town in northern Wisconsin.  From the beginning until today two things remain true about me.  I was and remain endlessly curious and love to learn new things and I do not like to sit still for too long.  I began dancing lessons at age four and continued through age eleven.  Classical ballet, tap and baton.  Then I discovered boys did not have cooties and switched my interests to snow skiing, ice skating, swimming, roller skating and dancing with a partner to rock music.  I joined the orchestra and marching band playing flute and piccolo throughout high school.  At the end of my senior year in high school I was voted most active.  I headed off to Madison and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor's degree majoring in French and English. As a break from my studies I joined the gymnastics club loving trapeze work most of all.   A month after graduation I married my high school sweetheart and we drove across the country to Rhode Island to begin my next adventure.

I taught elementary school for two years and although I loved the children, school administrators and crazy parents helped me decide upon a career change.  The next ten years were spent figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up and earning a living while my husband attended grad school and did a post-doc.    After moving back to Madison for seven years,  we adopted our son Thane at three months of age,  added a foster daughter,  Joy, a year later and moved to Chicago for two years.  I learned a lot.  In 1976, my husband took a position with UNT as a biology professor and we packed up the kids, the cat and the plants and moved to Denton, Texas. 
For the first time I was not employed outside my home but I had two two-year-olds to potty train, a new home to settle and a yard which consisted of Texas black gumbo and sand.  And so my Texas adventure began.
  In Denton I discovered Community Theater and got involved in performing, doing costumes and singing and dancing in a production of Fiddler on the Roof.  I returned to the work world  at UNT as the Business Manager for The Institute of Applied Sciences and started working on a master's degree in business on a part time basis.  It would be a long process.

Life is full of surprises, and 1979 was one of those years.  Joy had developed some problems in relating to other children and after a psychological evaluation it was determined she had an attachment/bonding disorder related to her first chaotic year of life before she came to live with us.   We had to adjust to giving her up so she could receive full time treatment.   A month after losing her I discovered I was pregnant with my son, Grant.  Working till my due date and finishing the fall semester I put a hold on grad school and he was born in April of 1980.  (The beginning of the hottest summer on record in Texas.).  When Grant was six months old I accidentally discovered my true talent and my future career.  I did not want to put my boys in childcare but I missed work and other adults.  A friend invited me to attend a sales demonstration for a company called Creative Circle.   They produced kits and products all related to creative craft hobbies.  I attended the demo and signed up that night as an independent representative.  It was perfect for me.  I worked around my husband's class schedule and faculty obligations.  I was able to be a room mother,  help in the school library and spend time with my boys.  I picked up my next grad class and found that sales and marketing would be my future.   To get back to my pre baby body I took up aerobics and running.  Threw in a brief period of Tai Kwondo and one jazz dance class at TWU.   When Grant was ready to start kindergarten I finished my MBA in Marketing and Finance and started my next life chapter. 

I joined Poco Graphite in 1985 and remained with them for 28 years until my retirement at the end of 2012.   I had a lot to learn about some highly specialized material  products used in a wide variety of technical applications.  I loved the challenge and went from a junior member of the customer service team to a Product Manager and Senior Sales Engineer.   I focused primarily on working with semiconductor manufacturers.  It provided me the opportunity to travel the world meeting with engineers and corporate buyers for most of the major high tech companies in the world.  I cannot begin to describe the many projects and people which filled all those years in this limited space but I can say I enjoyed my work immensely.  

On a personal level I hit  some major rough patches and including the loss of my oldest son, Thane at the age of 23 and a divorce after 27 years of marriage.  The darkness was eventually overshadowed by meeting and marrying my husband Jeff in 1996.  We were truly soul mates and we did everything we both had always wanted to do together.   Rode the highest roller coasters, flew a glider, parasailed, water skied and traveled to rallies on his motorcycle just to name a few.   In 2002 everything changed for me.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a lumpectomy and lymphectomy.  I was lucky because it was stage 1 and had not spread.  Jeff and I decided to take a four day cruise out of Galveston to rest and have some fun before I was to begin radiation treatments.  We arrived in Cozumel in two days and went on a snorkeling adventure arranged on shipboard.   Jeff suffered cardiac arrest in the water and never regained consciousness.  I had to remain in Mexico and make arrangements and flew back home the following day.  The drive back with friends from Galveston seemed never ending.   A day later I began my radiation treatments.  I am happy to say I am a 14 year cancer survivor and a much stronger person than I once was. 

I live every day to its fullest and love life.   Being positive even when life kicks you in the teeth is what makes the difference.  As someone famous once said, we can't control what happens to us but we can control what we do about it.   Currently I spend my time sewing, quilting, knitting, watching Netflix, reading, gardening, doing things with friends and driving to Minnesota at least once a year to see my sister and nieces.  I also travel back and forth to Austin throughout the year to spend time with Grant.  I also met a new friend who introduced me to the world of dirt track racing and it was love at first sight.  I sponsor two cars, a Modified and a Sports Mod.   Our Robinson Racing Team is awesome and during racing season you will find me in Ardmore, OK every Saturday night.  
I joined TB in August of 2015 and loved it from the start.  Khristen and Carissa welcomed me with open arms and never treated me like a "senior citizen" which was a very important to me.  I really enjoy aerial work outs including yoga, silks and Lyra hoop.  I have a long way to go but I will keep working at those skills.  The reformer and Pilates classes have really helped build strength and the yoga has helped my flexibility.   I have met so many wonderful fellow students and formed new friendships.  I am truly grateful to Carissa and Khristen for their encouragement and patience throughout my TB journey.   I feel 71 years young and ready for new challenges in the year ahead.  I still have things on my bucket list I haven't experienced yet!   

 Claudia's Top Ten

Favorite Indulgence:   Dark chocolate and ice cream

Favorite Movie:   An Unmarried Woman

Favorite Twisted Class:  Aerial Yoga

Hidden Talent:   I sing and performed throughout the metroplex with MPowered at festivals, events and in a musical at the Majestic theater. 

What she does when life gets stressful?  I listen to music and often sing for my dogs and cats

Dream Vacation:  A trip to Australia and New Zealand.  On my bucket list. 

Historical figure she most identifies with:   Alice Paul

If there were a soundtrack to her life:   I Will Survive. 

Beauty product she can’t live without:   Alcohol free toner

Twisted Client she is most inspired by and why:   Probably surprising but I admire the few men who belong to our group.   As someone who spent her life in a male dominated industry and company I admire their willingness to work with a group of women and risk exposing any physical weaknesses they may have. 

No comments:

Post a Comment