Story and photos by Jef Hatch, Curry Coastal Pilot
When it comes to being fit in Brookings there are very few individuals who can claim a workout regimen like JoAnn VanDerschaaf.
Known as Coach Van by those who have attended her twice weekly early-morning Boot Camp workout at Fitness at the Club in Harbor, or her summer beach Fit Body workout organized via Facebook, VanDerschaaf is a self-proclaimed workout freak, health nut and fitness fanatic.
“I’ve been a health freak since forever,” she explained. “I was always the fastest in elementary school and have been active my entire life.”
Those who have shared a lane with her at the Brookings public pool may think of her as a swimming machine as she churns out a minimum of 3 miles in the water every day.
“I’ve got 88 miles already this summer,” VanDerschaaf said. “I try to swim at least 3 miles every day.”
VanDerschaaf swims twice a day Monday through Friday — averaging 1 1/2 to 2 miles each session — and then swims for two to three hours straight on Saturday to get at least 3 miles in.
“She is here all the time,” Bill Emme, assistant manager at the pool, said. “She logs the most miles of everyone who swims in the pool. She’ll have more than 90 miles by the end of summer and most normal pool users will have 7 or 8 miles.”
In addition to swimming, VanDerschaaf runs approximately a mile on the beach with her dog every day but Sunday.
“I don’t work out on Sunday,” she said. “It’s my rest day.”
She would probably run more than a mile but, according to her, “I tore up my hamstring a few years back doing back-to-back triathlons.”
As though swimming 3 miles and running a mile everyday weren’t enough, VanDerschaaf also holds a twice weekly Boot Camp at Fitness at the Club (FATC) every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 5:30 a.m.
Splitting the workouts into upper body and lower body on separate days, the class is attended by anywhere from seven to 15 people who are there due, in part, to Coach Van.
“I come because of JoAnn,” three-year participant Sarah Oliver said. “She motivates us. She gets us going and makes it so we don’t want to stop. She is so full of energy.”
Three-week attendee Dannielle Dietrich agreed.
“I love it. This is a lot of fun,” she said. “I have fun with the group of people but Coach Van is awesome. She keeps it moving from exercise to exercise so that we don’t get burned out and helps everyone no matter their fitness level.”
VanDerschaaf has been an employee at FATC for three years and began teaching the day she walked in looking for a job.
“I was looking for a fitness job,” she explained. “The day I walked in they had just lost an instructor and so I taught a class that day.”
VanDerschaaf not only works out to stay healthy but eats well to help maintain her body’s maximum potential — staying away from processed foods and eating the types of things she could grow in her own garden.
“I hardly ever get sick and when I do it comes and goes quickly,” she explained. “God blessed me with a healthy body.”
VanDerschaaf’s is excited to help people get fit and will offer a couple of outdoor workout sessions this summer.
“I really want to show people that they can get fit anywhere,” she said. “Getting people fit at home is my big thing.”