Take a Walk on the Spice Side

The light is on. Diana Bartnick-Schmidt is the type of person who just glows. And, it is so genuine because she’s faced more than her share of adversity. Despite many health challenges, her commitment to stay healthy, keep moving and find joy while doing so is a testament to her strength and love for life.

“I’m seasoned,” snickers Bartnick-Schmidt. “I call myself Paprika. I’ve battled arthritis, multiple bouts with skin cancer, breast cancer, and ulcerated colitis but I haven’t let these major health opponents stop me from seeing the joy in each and every day.”

She also shares that life really is about the changes that come with the aging process.

“I am much healthier now, despite chronic illness, than I was in my 40s and 50s. Coming to the Monon Community Center (MCC) and walking on the track and taking group fitness classes has literally transformed me into a vibrant and healthy senior citizen machine.”

Bartnick-Schmidt was an elementary school teacher and then an education professor at Franklin College. She admits she never had the time to exercise on a regular basis over the years. Her life was busy raising a blended family with her husband, Nolan, and teaching and mentoring young students.

“I am not sure I knew the value of exercise back then. But, I do now. When I first visited the Monon Community Center and saw the track and all the different people walking it — I knew that was for me,” says Bartnick-Schmidt. “I get in kind of a zone when I start walking on the track and I get such joy from seeing everyone from the elderly walkers to mommies with their babies out there walking, interacting and smiling at one another.”

The track isn’t the only amenity Bartnick-Schmidt uses to get stronger and healthier at the Monon Community Center. She’s a big fan of group fitness classes such as gentle yoga, strictly strength, and flex and stretch. She touts the group fitness instructors as caring, knowledgeable and attentive. This allows participants at all levels to feel comfortable and welcome and adapt each class to their own level of ability.

After one of the yoga classes, she began a conversation with a woman and discovered she too was a breast cancer survivor. Bartnick-Schmidt shares that there is more than just exercise for the body at the Monon Community Center. She says the community spirit and friendship she has encountered there make it her happy place.

“You might call it my ‘happy hour’,” she laughs. “I’ll give a thumbs up to a track walker using a walker or walk backward to have a conversation with a mom about her baby’s precious little toes sticking out from his baby carrier. I just get great joy from being here. I’ve watched a pretty exciting pickleball game or two from the track.”

Diana and Nolan on the indoor track at the Monon Community Center.
Diana and Nolan on the indoor track at the Monon Community Center.

Bartnick-Schmidt and her husband Nolan, who often walks with her, moved to Carmel from Franklin (Indiana) a few years back to be closer to one of their daughters as they downsized and prepared to age-in-place. While they still travel on short trips, it is obvious the Bartnick-Schmidts are all about their family and staying healthy so that they can enjoy every minute of time with them.

“I try to be insightful and thoughtful about each and every day’s value,” says Bartnick-Schmidt. “Through adversity you learn about the true gifts in life and I firmly believe the Monon Community Center has been a gift for me. It is better than all the potions, lotions and pills combined.”

Part of aging is having a support system in place that makes life easier and promotes a healthy and strong lifestyle. “Transformations come at all times and in all ways,” shares Bartnick-Schmidt. “Look for me the next time you are at the Monon Community Center. I’ll be smiling and working hard to stay spicy, happy, grateful, and healthy!”

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