Bright-eyed and energetic Lisa McLeod was born in Colorado, raised in Alaska, and returned to Colorado for school. “My dad was a big outdoors person,” she said, “and he instilled that in me.”
She majored in Exercise and Sport Science, with an emphasis in Wellness. While doing an internship with Colorado senior services in a cardiac rehab center she discovered she loved working with the fifty-five and better population. Capitalizing on her interests, she went to work at a senior center in Colorado and loved it as well. When she ran the Rocky Mountain Senior Games, she felt she had found her niche.
“I am an old soul or something,” she said. “The seniors had such a love of life. They were looking for all the same things. You hear that older people just sit around, they don’t do much, and they are grumpy, but that’s not what I found. They do all the things I enjoyed. They want to dance, have social interaction, they really appreciated the fact that we would come up with these fun ideas. Some of the people became really good friends of mine. They would sign up for every trip I did. I went to the Rocky Mountain Senior Games and seniors would be doing high jumping and javelin throwing and I thought, oh my gosh. It was amazing and inspirational. I wanted to be involved in this, to be part of it.”
Sixteen years ago St. George’s warm temperatures and three hundred days of sunshine a year beckoned to Lisa. She checked out SunRiver and found the programs similar to what she had been doing in Colorado. “I love the outdoors,” she said. “In St. George we can get out in December, put on a sweatshirt and go hiking. There are so many beautiful places to hike, and play, and I love that.”
Lisa was one of three people working the recreation center back then. It was her niche. She recalls, “I would run and change into my swimming suit, teach a water class, jump out, change clothes, and take the residents on a hike or a walk, then come back, change clothes and work the desk. I’d change, jump back in the water to teach, change my clothes and do a fitness class, and then we would set up and I would call bingo. It was really a lot of fun and I got to know the residents well.
“Back then, I knew all of the resident’s names, all their kids’ names, and all their grandkids’ names, and their cats’ names. I might interact with them four hours a day because they came to all of my classes and bingo, and then I might hike with them, or play tennis. It was fun.”
Lisa used to do the calendar, emails, and newsletter and whatever else needed to be done. What used to be a challenge to fill the calendar with some exciting things around town so the calendar didn’t have so many empty days has become a challenge of how to fit in all of the SunRiver activities.
“The only sad part,” Lisa said, “is when it gets so big you just can’t know everybody so well, but I try to get out and get to know everyone.”
Lisa’s old title of Community Center Manager did not adequately cover the requirements of SunRiver’s expanding community. Lifestyle extends beyond the Community Center to the driving range, the Veterans Park, the clubs, the streets, and everywhere in SunRiver.
Now, as the Lifestyle Manager, Lisa is in charge of all the community’s clubs and groups. If a resident has an idea for a group, they are told, “Go talk to Lisa.” She evaluates the amount of interest in an idea and helps the group get started. She also works with the fitness instructors to come up with fun new fitness classes and ideas. SunRiver stays up with the fitness trends. “If you go to any gym, and come back here,” Lisa said, “we do the same things; Zumba, kettlebells, all the fun things.” She works closely with the event team because events are a big part of the SunRiver lifestyle.
“I work with most things that have to do with the lifestyle,” she said. “We have learned there are many people who don’t use the Community Center, but to them lifestyle is knowing that everything within the community is going to be pristine.”
Lisa’s job has expanded with the community, but she still finds time to stay involved with the residents and participates in many of the activities, all in addition to her role as a single mother to her seven-year-old son. “I am my son’s soccer coach. He loves to tell everybody about SunRiver too, he thinks when you get older you get to do lots of fun things and just play. He comes to the pet festival every year. He has a little toad, and he dressed him in a tuxedo and had him hop down the red carpet. He was very excited.”
Lisa is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, and Aquatics Facility Operator. Her membership in these organizations allows her to interact with other 55+ communities nationally and internationally and helps her keep current on the latest research in senior health and fitness.
Lisa’s title and responsibilities have expanded, as has her desire to interact with the residents and work with them to create a vibrant community and exciting retirement lifestyle that is the hallmark of resort living at SunRiver St. George.
by Glenn R.