Pauline Brown is proof that there is no age limit in life. She rides a patriotic motorcycle, is a fitness guru, shuffled through the foster care system and opened the first chain of Chipotleâ€™s in California.
And at nearly 50, Brown commands the Zumba fitness class on Fridays at the Campus Recreation Center in a room typically filled to capacity with near 80 students shaking and sambaing with Brown to blaring Latin beats.
â€œI think age is all in your mind. I donâ€™t feel 50, and Iâ€™m trying my best not to look 50,â€ she said.
Brown was born in Nagasaki, Japan but raised in the U.S. since she was eight months old with a privileged Japanese mother and an Italian-American father, a marriage that her traditional Japanese grandparents frowned upon.
After her mother died of cancer supposedly caused by the nuclear bomb that hit Nagasaki in WWII when she was 12, Brownâ€™s American family received no further contact with her Japanese family. She still doesnâ€™t know if any of them were impacted by the March tsunami.
She was sent to foster care due to abuse by her father and struggled to leave an abusive husband at a young age. Because of these experiences, she now sits on the Colorado Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, helping children who suffer from abuse and neglect.
â€œI believe that everything that has happened has made me the person that I am today,â€ Brown said.
Brown has been teaching at the dance aerobics class at CSU since spring semester 2010 but has been teaching Zumba for the last six years.
â€œZumba you just have the ability to just be really goofy, and we have flexibility to put in our own style and things like that and thatâ€™s why I love it,â€ Brown said. â€œPlus I like to shake my hips.â€
Health and exercise has always been a part of the mother of twoâ€™s life. She competed in roller skating competitions when she was a kid and has taught fitness classes since 1983, but it was never her main job.
â€œFitness has always been my passion, but when I was trying to raise my kids as a single mom, you know, you just donâ€™t get paid a whole lot,â€ Brown said.
She got a masterâ€™s degree in business from Golden Gate University in California and ended up making a mid six-figure salary in high-level management. One of her biggest accomplishments was opening and managing Californiaâ€™s first chain of Chipotle restaurants.
Now she runs LIFT-4U, her own personal training business run out of her home in Severence, Colo.
She is also a master trainer for fitness program known as Resistance, Interval, Power, Plyometrics, Endurance and Diet, or RIPPED for Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.
â€œI want people to feel good about themselves. I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin, to be confident and healthy,â€ Brown said.
Despite her healthy lifestyle, Brown admits she does have one vice.
â€œIâ€™m a sweet-aholic,â€ she said.
Freshman construction management major Yamila Trevino started taking Brownâ€™s Zumba class in the spring. She started out nervous, but her fears ended after the first class.
â€œYou just feel like you belong there even if you have no idea what youâ€™re doing,â€ Trevino said in an e-mail to the Collegian.
Brownâ€™s daughter Kellie Walters is the director of adult fitness at CSU and credits Brown for inspiring her to get into the industry.
â€œShe was a very driven women and very strict, and I learned a lot from her,â€ Walters said.
Brown met her husband Bob while waiting for a return flight from Japan during the 9/11 attacks. They got married in 2004 and Brown moved from California to Colorado.
As a wedding gift and tribute to 9/11, the couple custom ordered a patriotic motorcycle colored to resemble the American flag and adorned with bald eagles and the date of the attacks, on which they led a procession to ground zero in New York on the fourth anniversary of the attacks.
â€œThis bike is so serious. Weâ€™ve had people come up to this bike and just tear,â€ she said.
Brown also takes pride in being a grandmother but does not see her 10-year-old grandson much because his mother, Brownâ€™s daughter Danielle, lives in Florida.
â€œItâ€™s wonderful, I just wish I had a closer relationship with him,â€ she said.
When she is not pumping iron or doing the samba, Brown rides her mountain bike, runs and spends time with her four cats, three dogs and two birds.
â€œSheâ€™s an inspiration to so many people including myself that all the students at CSU should take that class,â€ Walters said.
Staff writer Rachel Childs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.