Born and raised Wichita Falls native, Sarah Fidlar, in Iowa of 1996 was asked if she would like to start teaching fitness classes. That’s when she learned how much she enjoyed being around people and it led her to being assistant coordinator of the Lifelong Learning Center in Wichita Falls.
“When my second son was born, I was asked to start teaching classes and although it was just fitness classes, I just really recognized how much I enjoyed being around people and helping them in that way. Fitness is a big deal to a lot of people. It was really fun being in that environment and the creativity of planning out what I wanted to do for each class. My favorite part was the people and getting to know my clients. I learned how personal of a person I am,” Fidlar said.
Fidlar, who moved back to Texas from Iowa so that her children were able to grow up in proximity to their family, said she was able to make her own schedules and also spend time with her kids, while partaking this job she absolutely loved. Fidlar was a fitness teacher for 26 years.
“I could go really early in the mornings and teach or in the afternoons and teach, all while doing this job that was just so fun for me. I also didn’t have to put my kids in daycare. I was able to homeschool both of my boys until they both continued their education at Midwestern State and graduated, both with engineering degrees,” Fidlar said.
Fidlar went on to become a personal trainer which gave her more responsibility of the individuals she was training. Fidlar said she was able to establish stronger and more intimate relationships with her clients.
“After being a personal trainer for a while, I was then offered to be the coordinator for the ‘LIFT STRONG’ program through the YMCA…it’s a fitness program for cancer survivors. It’s a three month (12 weeks) free program for them and I loved working with that population. It was extremely rewarding and emotional and fun overall. A lot of these people had been through the worst thing in their life and came out of it stronger and just continued to push forward, and I just loved that,” Fidlar said.
Despite loving the program and the population Fidlar worked with, during the time as a coordinator, her own father was diagnosed with cancer and ended up passing.
“I worked there for two years. It was hard to maintain my schedule because I wanted to be with him as much as possible. It was also emotional because here I was training with cancer survivors and my father was not going to survive cancer. It was tough for me, so I decided to take time off that specific program but continue to teach fitness classes,” Fidlar said.
Fidlar landed her first job at Midwestern State at the MSU Credit Union and worked there for two years, through the beginning of COVID-19. Fidlar was a teller, and again, her favorite part was interacting with students and people who worked on campus.
“While working at the Credit Union was when my friend told me about the Lifelong Learning Center. She had told me that I should do the interview and then see if I wanted to take this job. I really feel like the center has taken everything I’ve ever done and learned and put it into one. Being in the fun environment surrounded by people who want to better themselves and enjoy learning…I think really resonates with me and what I enjoyed about my fitness career; I love people who keep pushing forward and don’t want to give up, especially within this age group. All of our clients are senior citizens, from the age of 50 and up…we even have some people in their 80’s come, and my mother joins us as well and she’s 91,” Fidlar said.
Fidlar began working at the Lifelong Learning Center, just this past September of 2021, after working at the Wellness Center teaching a HIT and SPIN class. She says she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“I wish more people knew about us. We have such a wide range of people that come and speak, and they are all volunteers that are all just so knowledgeable. I’ve never been disappointed in any presentation given. It’s really just the opportunity to be a resource for this specific population and help them expand their knowledge,” Fidlar said.
The mission of the Lifelong Learning Center is to be a member-driven community of learners dedicated to inspiring and enriching the minds and spirits of Texomans over the age of 50. Fidlar says the center has everything from a songwriter circle, university professors that teach classes, and field trips that take place in the summer.
“We go to Dallas, Oklahoma City…it’s a day trip so nowhere too far but we try and go visit museums and parks etc. It’s always a good time, and we actually haven’t done a trip for two years but are starting up again this summer, and I can absolutely not wait,” Fidlar said.
Fidlar says what gets her through the day, are the people and her relationship with them. Even within her short time at the center, she has already formed strong bonds.
“The relationships I have with them, throughout my short time here, I have met such remarkable people who are just kind, selfless, care about the community and each other. Their stories and lives [are] incredible…every day, I walk through the doors at peace because my job is to be here for the people and that’s what I love about it. I hope what people would say is that while I was here, they felt that the center was warm and cheerful. I hope I make everyone feel like they belong here and that this is their home,” Fidlar said.