KODIAK — “We got one leg and in a wheelchair and we are busting it out,” personal trainer Ron Williams told Mary Joy Smith during a workout session outside her Kodiak garage.
With the afternoon sun beating down on the two, Smith continued her workout with more vigor than before.
“And how old am I?” she asked moments after completing a set of tricep pull-downs with exercise bands connected to the top of her garage.
“Eighty-three,” Williams answered.
This went on for nearly 30 minutes. Williams motivating Smith and Smith rewarding him by completing the exercise with ease.
Age and having only one leg didn’t slow down Smith during this session and it hasn’t for the nearly seven months she has been training with Williams.
The transformation over that time has blown Williams away.
“Unbelievable,” he said of Smith’s progress. “She has a 100 percent, go get’ em, no whine, no excuse attitude and that is what it takes.”
Smith started with nearly no flexibility in her right leg. That is what spurred her daughter to set up personal training sessions.
Now, she does weighted leg lifts and has full flexibility.
“We earned this flexibility,” Williams said. “I mean there was some tears.”
“I didn’t cry, but it does hurt and I knew it would,” Smith said.
Williams said when he started working with Smith, she would do single-set exercises. Now she does super sets and will try anything.
“I never try to push it,” Williams said. “Right now, people would see this and go, ‘Holy, cow!’ But, it took seven months to get where we are.”
Smith’s goal is live to be 120.
“I want to be the healthiest I can be,” she said. “I want to be able to do as much as I can do and to keep independent as long as I can.”
Smith lost her left leg at age 11 when she was hit by a car driven by a drunken driver.
“My dad was a minister and he said he saw my spirit leave my body,” Smith said. “It was nip-and-tuck, but he and his friends prayed and thank God I got to live my life and it has been a beautiful life.”
She learned to walk with a prosthetic leg two years later when she made a New Year’s resolution to do so.
She not only conquered that, she also taught herself to ride a bike and roller skate.
“I was real active,” Smith said.
Smith went on to college, got a degree and was a teacher for 38 years.
She moved to Kodiak from California in 2001, a year after her husband died, to be closer to her daughter and six grandchildren who live in Kodiak.
Since she moved to the island she stopped wearing her prosthetic leg. She has used a wheelchair the past two years.
“I just sort of gradually slowed down,” said Smith, who is a pianist for the Golden Tones.
That is when her daughter stepped in and hired Williams.
“Ron knows how to inspire you so you get motivated,” Smith said. “He is a great innovator. He has had to because of me not being able to get into a gym and not really having a bunch of equipment.