If your morning commute takes you to the stoplight on East TC Jester near 610, then you probably are aware of the dance moves of Oak Forest’s Nancy Ann Gonzalez.
For the past 11 months Gonzalez has made that corner part of her morning workout, and her enthusiasm for exercise has gotten her noticed by her neighbors who gave her a recent shout out on social media. What people may not know however is that the effort is part of a lifestyle change that Gonzalez started a year and a half ago – and one that has resulted in a 35 pound weight loss.
“Physical fitness is very important to me,” said Gonzalez. “My husband had a heart attack three years ago, and wound up having a triple bypass. We are parents to a seven-year-old and I would like to be around for her. Plus, my mother passed away when she was 45 from cancer, which is my current age. I’d like to be here for my daughter as much as possible.”
Gonzalez runs to 610 and East TC Jester to get her heart rate up and then does what she loves the most – dances.
“I was in ballet and tap since I was three years old, then in drill team in my teenage years,” Gonzalez said. During her morning regimen she includes a lot of elements such as fast walking, running, dancing, high jumps, donkey kicks, jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups. She usually runs and dances anywhere from three to five days a week.
“I try to clock in 25 to 30 miles a week,” she said. “I usually give myself an hour and a half a day to work out.”
Gonzalez says she enjoys exercising in that particular spot for no particular reason.
“One day, I just decided to allow myself to be me,” she said. “I felt safe because it was a public area and I had read that females had gotten attacked at Memorial Park a couple of years back, which is where I used to run for many years before I decided to run in our area.”
Gonzalez says that people sometimes honk but she is not sure if they are honking at her, or at fellow neighbors trying to get where they need to get during their morning drive.
“I am also listening to my playlist and have my headsets in,” she said. “I usually don’t look at the people in their cars directly, or wave. I’ve only had two people actually come up to me while I’m exercising, one to ask me out to dinner. I told him I was married. Mostly everyone in the neighborhood has been incredibly respectful and receptive in allowing me to do what I want to do.”
She said that the funniest thing that happened to her occurred last September.
“I was in ‘full throttle’ mode of my dancing and when I turned around there were about 10 police officers standing all abreast, just basically staring at me,” Gonzalez said. “I thought for a second, ‘are they here to arrest me?’ Evidently, a car had fallen into the bayou – no one was in it – and that’s why they were all there.”
Gonzalez says that she isn’t looking for the spotlight but is just grateful to be able to enjoy her life and the outdoors this way.
“The best part is it’s free,” she said.