Cuddled on a couch next to a heated fireplace with a knitted blanket strewn over his or her lap is where most would expect to find an English junkie. However, English teachers Keren Robertson and Lisa Bonanno break the status quo. They shed the warm, knitted blanket from their legs and trade it in for some workout gear. Whether it’s trudging up switchbacks or toning muscles in the gym, these ladies know how to get fit and enjoy every aspect.
English teacher Keren Robertson has been an avid hiker since she was a little girl. Growing up in Scotland, Robertson would often go hiking, or “rambling” as they call it, with her parents. Some of her favorite climbs have been at parks near her parents’ house in Scotland, in particular the Mull of Kintyre.
“It is beautiful and I appreciate the peace and majesty of the natural world very much,” Robertson said.
She continues to hike by herself or with friends, as it is a great way to catch up and get some exercise at the same time. During the school year, Robertson will take three to five mile hikes about three times a week. Over the summer and on vacations, however, she hikes about five times a week and increases her mileage to about 5 or 10 miles. It is apparent that Robertson loves to escape into the serenity of nature.
“[Hiking] gives me a sense of perspective,” Robertson said. “I like being in the middle of something larger than myself and being reminded of how small I am in the scheme of things.”
Robertson has been on countless adventures through breathtaking sceneries and has seen jaw-dropping vistas. Whether hiking up the icy mountains of New Zealand or around the base of Ayers Rock in Australia, she knows where the best sites in the world are located.
Even after a close encounter with a coyotes (which she later discovered was harmless), Robertson has some intense hiking aspirations. She hopes to one day ramble the West Highland Way in Scotland, a 90-mile trek from Glasgow to Fort William through the highlands.
Growing up playing soccer and dancing, English teacher Lisa Bonanno has always been active and in tip-top shape. However, she put her athletic skills to the test when she decided to start teaching aerobics classes after graduating from high school.
“It was a great college job,” Bonanno said. “I got paid for working out, and I could make more money in an hour than I could make it in three to four hours.”
In order for Bonanno to become a certified trainer, she had to go through the certificate program at De Anza College. Additionally, she needed to become certified through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, a national organization. She had to pass a written and physical exam to prove that she was not only in shape, but that she had conceptual knowledge of Kinesiology, CPR and health. Bonanno has taught at fitness clubs and corporations all over the Bay Area, including Hewlett Packard in Cupertino, Los Gatos Athletic Club, 24 Hour Fitness and Meridian Athletic Club in San Jose.
“It was the best form of motivation,” Bonanno said. “Even if I didn’t feel like working out, I had to go; it was my job.”
Having been a cheerleader and dancer, Bonanno felt that the transition to aerobics was natural and easy. She taught STEP classes, some body sculpting classes and even QUAD STEP classes, which involve four benches.
“I loved the energy and adrenaline rush that comes from making other people feel good about themselves,” Bonanno said. “It was also a great creative outlet for me [because I enjoyed choreographing my own routines.”
Although her passion has switched from teaching in the gym to the classroom, she still is active and goes to yoga on a regular basis.