While Jack LaLanne may be known as the “godfather of fitness,” Sheila Cluff, founder of The Oaks at Ojai, is certainly the “grandmother of aerobics.” However, after reading Sheila’s autobiography and having the sincere honor of meeting with her recently, I find that grandmother is not a term one would associate with her (despite the fact that she is one—to a brood of adorable children!). Sheila has an effervescence not often seen in women her age—she is bubbly, she is full of life (she’s a competitive ice skater and still skis black diamonds!), and she is all of these things because of the amazing life she’s lived.
After suffering an ice skating accident that put her out of commission for a bit, Sheila took the time to write a story that was years in the making—her own. Living Your Dream is an inspiring autobiography of the woman who pioneered the concept of the modern destination spa, gave birth to aerobics (once called cardiovascular dance!), and whose passion for living a healthy life has led her to create a program that inspires so many others to do the same.
While reading the story of Sheila’s life, you find yourself not only inspired but you feel connected to her, as she meets the love of her life, experiences motivating highs, and overcomes unbelievable tragedies. Three important things that the reader will take away from this story:
1. Everyone’s life has peaks and valleys—it’s how we handle them that can make or break us. Sheila relays in anecdotal form how she survived the deepest of valleys and in doing so, developed the skills necessary to meet future challenges, truly appreciate the successes, and live life to the fullest.
2. It IS possible to have it all—but you can’t do it all by yourself! You will learn how Sheila’s husband, Don, together with The Oaks team, played a vital role in the success of The Oaks at Ojai.
3. Fitness is the magic word. The book shows how fitness played a significant role in helping Sheila attain her goals physically, emotionally, creatively, and financially, and how it can assist you in doing the same.
Sheila’s life story transcends the age gap—it uses a universal language of dreams, sacrifice, and family—one we all understand, can appreciate, and relate to.
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