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Fitness visionary

Beverly Smigel’s healthy lifestyle continues at Brooksby

Created date

April 23rd, 2014
Beverly Smigel (right) and her daughter Debbie stop outside of the fitness center at Brooksby.
Beverly Smigel (right) and her daughter Debbie sto

Long before it was typical to see joggers in the streets, Beverly Smigel had made it her routine. Days began at 5 a.m., with a series of stretches followed by an hour and a half of brisk walking/jogging through Marblehead, Mass., that typically covered more than five miles.  

By 7:30 a.m., Beverly would arrive at North Shore Cardiology Associates for her demanding job as office manager, with a nutritious, homemade vegetarian lunch in hand. Beverly’s day didn’t end after work. She would head to the library, where she studied finance to help her further succeed in managing the financials for the business of three cardiologists.         

“She’s a visionary. She was ahead of her time,” says Beverly’s daughter, Debbie Smigel.

Beverly’s exercise regimen began as a means of coping emotionally and physically following a family tragedy. For many years and through all seasons, Beverly took to the streets alone, unknowingly ahead of the fitness trend that would follow. She became known around town, approached regularly for lifestyle advice by neighbors, and interviewed for the local paper. 

Beverly’s self-sustaining determination and passion for healthful living are unwavering more than 50 years later in her life at Brooksb..., the Erickson Living community in Peabody, where she now lives. 

She fervently recommends the benefits of an active lifestyle, saying: “As time goes on, [active people] begin to realize that they’re in great health, they don’t have medical problems, and they’ll live longer. A lot of people want to feel better all their lives, and they will.” 

She adds, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

Social bonds

Sitting close together in Brooksby’s Town Centre Salon, Beverly and Debbie look like best friends rather than mother and daughter. Growing up, Debbie followed her mother’s lead, understanding the importance of exercise and healthy eating, often joining her mother for jogs on weekends.     

“She knows as much about myself [as I do],” Beverly says of her daughter. Though their bond has always been strong, since her move to Brooksby, Beverly says, “If anything, we’re closer.”

Beverly began considering a move to Brooksby from her home of 56 years in Marblehead as a means of seeking a less isolated lifestyle.   

“I was all alone and wanted to be with people; I wanted to socialize,” she says. 

Beverly chose a one-bedroom apartment home close to Brooksby’s fitness center, Windsor Restaurant, and outdoor walking trails. Brooksby put the Smigels in touch with the founders of Home Transition Resource, a local company that helps with the downsizing and moving process. 

“It was very, very helpful,” Debbie says. On moving day in February 2013, the work of moving and unpacking was done for them by Home Transition Resource. “They said, ‘Go have lunch; we’ll call you.’”   

Shortly after the move, Beverly began working with a personal trainer at Brooksby. She immediately found healthful meal options at the Windsor Restaurant, where she also had the option to sit with new people at dinner each night. “Brooksby makes it easy” to meet people, Debbie says.

Engaged and active

A few months after the move, Beverly joined Intermissions, Brooksby’s program designed to enrich the lives of residents with some level of memory loss.      

Five days each week, Beverly attends the four-hour program, which includes exercise, discussions, visits from speakers, and crafts alongside a consistent group of participants.  

For Beverly, Intermissions is an opportunity to meet people, engage in conversation, and be active. “I like the people. We talk about world events and various things that are very important to me,” she says. 

“It was like a gift. I can’t say enough about it,” Debbie says. “My mother has thrived and flourished under that program.”

Of Intermissions, Debbie adds, “It’s actually changed the quality of her life. They do all kinds of activities—tai chi, fitness, painting, brain games, Scrabble and trivia, candy-making, lectures. It’s really wonderful to stimulate the brain.”

Today, Debbie visits with her mother at Brooksby a couple of times a week, often for lunch at Brooksby’s Greentree Café. “It’s cozy, and there’s a wonderful selection of food. They’re very accommodating,” Debbie says. As the weather warmed, the Smigels planned to get out walking on Brooksby’s outdoor trails.