Student Spotlight: Carol Popken

My name is Carol Popken and my husband, Ken and I live in Clive, IA. We have lived here for 51 years. Ken worked for insurance companies and I am a home economist. I worked for Iowa Food Industries Association and Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, IA. We have a daughter, son-in-law, and two teenage grandchildren who live in Kansas City.

My daughter encouraged me to try yoga after we vacationed in Paris together. She sensed that I had a balance problem because I always looked for stair railings. (Truth is, I do fear falling and breaking bones; can’t be too careful). Shortly after, Mary had an announcement in our church bulletin offering chair yoga. I started practicing yoga with her using the support of a chair. I attend this class weekly and enjoy the group of women and how wonderful it makes my body feel when class is over.

About a year later during the pandemic, Mary offered a 30-minute online Strength & Balance class. I knew this would be a great fit for me. After taking this class for 10 months, I can feel that I have gotten stronger and more limber. I can take this class in the comfort of my home and access it more than once a week in her video library.

I really have no other classes to compare, but I am told by others that routines can become repetitive – not so with Mary. I can’t wait to see what she has created. She is creative and varies every workout teaching us facts about the body and the benefits we receive by staying active and moving with intention. As we are doing a class, Mary will interject comments and share modifications on how to adjust the routine if it bothers your knees, shoulders, etc. I know we all appreciate this and feel special. I also appreciate the fact that I can consult her about specific problems. She is available by email or phone. Mary is quick to respond and helps me identify resources if she does not know the answer.

Outside of taking classes with Mary, I am active in my church, Questers, and P.E.O., as well as two book clubs. Before Covid, we traveled overseas, taking about one trip a year with a favorite tour guide from NYC.

This is a picture of my daughter, sister, and niece attending the 150th anniversary of P.E.O. at the Convention of International Chapter in Des Moines, IA. We are all P.E.O. sisters. I attended Cottey College for a year and have served many roles within my chapter. I have been a Guard at two International Conventions and served as State ELF Chairman. I have also served as Chaplain in the Chapter Initiation Team for many years.

This is a picture from one of my favorite trips to the White Cliffs of Dover with my family. As you can see, we love to travel. I enjoy learning about new cultures and exploring different parts of the world. I am looking forward to traveling again. When I do, I can stick to my routine (if I want to) and take Mary’s online classes wherever we go.

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