Seventy-one-year-old Margie Bourgeois says she feel better than she did five years ago.

The reason: something she calls the “B.S.B.S. System.”

No, really.

“Balance, strength, breathing and stretching,” Bourgeois said, bouncing around like a ball of energy. “If we would all do that, it would make a world of difference.”

The system has worked for Bourgeois, a licensed physical therapist, and she hopes it will for others, too.

Bourgeois taught her healthy-living philosophy to a group of fellow senior citizens during an “Exercise for Seniors” class at the Denham Springs-Walker Library on Friday, June 16.

Cheryl Jeane, who runs the physical therapy clinic at Triton Healthcare in Denham Springs, is normally the instructor for the “Exercise for Seniors” class but was unable to attend the one last Friday.

Fortunately for Jeane, Bourgeois was available to help out.

This wasn’t Bourgeois’ first time leading an exercise class: She opened Physical Therapy Services of Church Point 39 years ago and was there until having to walk away in 2012 due to health problems.

But Bourgeois overcame the tumor that had smashed her spinal cord at the C1 and C2 Vertebrae and threatened her life, and now she’s happily back to her active, energetic lifestyle.

To Bourgeois, “sitting around would deteriorate my body the way smoking deteriorates the lungs.” Her mission now is to get others to think the same.

“I don’t know everything, but I do know if you don’t move, your body is going to deteriorate,” Bourgeois said. “Life is movement. We were made to move.”

Bourgeois had everyone moving during the hour-long exercise class held in the library’s West Meeting Room — the only breaks were to take a sip of water.

Beginning by jogging in place, Bourgeois led the participants in warm-ups, exercise and stretching in a variety of positions, both seated and standing.

Since buying weights or going to a gym can be expensive, all the work-outs Bourgeois put the senior citizens through are ones that can be done at home. Exercising — not the location — is what matters.

“Our body is a weight,” Bourgeois said as she made the group complete three sets of calf raises. “You don’t have to go to the gym to use their weights to get in shape and be healthier. If you commit to something active, you’re already doing the right thing.”

The main areas of focus Friday were the legs, arms, shoulders, abdomens, but after jogging, push-ups, calf raises, ab exercises and stretching, the whole body was feeling it.

That’s a good thing, Bourgeois said, because it means you’re moving.

“Sitting at the computer is the new smoking,” she said. “It’s fun to lie on the couch and read or watch T.V., but your body needs movement.

“It increases oxygen to the brain, it makes the heart work better. If you think of the body’s function as a whole, everything works and performs better with exercise and walking.”

The B.S.B.S System has Bourgeois constantly doing both.

She developed the idea shortly after she moved to Baton Rouge and started attending Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) classes at LSU.

Knowing her long-term health was at stake, Bourgeois realized the only way for her to ensure it was to stay as active as possible, and she’s done just that since recovering from her tumor — and she’s hasn’t felt better in years.

Though she has experienced major health complications herself, Bourgeois can’t stand it when doctors blame every ailment, sickness and other issue on “old age.”

In fact, she’s sick of it.

“I’m tired of listening to that,” Bourgeois said. “I’ve had people in their 80s that got out of their wheelchairs and got stronger and were able to function and became independent. That’s what you want to do. You want to be independent, walking and taking care of yourself because you don’t want someone having to do it for you.

“The best way to guarantee that is to stay active.”

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