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Keep Growing and Going

Sheri Sampson, Fitness Program Manager, has served the Forest community for 3½ years and has truly found her passion here. “This is my dream job,” she says without hesitation. She notes that her work at The Forest is an amalgamation of the best parts of her past work experience.

Sheri leads a group of residents through a fun exercise routine in her cardio/strength conditioning class.

Sheri’s background is a beautiful kaleidoscope of experience. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from East Carolina University (graduating magna cum laude), she spent time working with brain injury and spinal cord patients. She also served in therapeutic recreation programs, camps, fitness/wellness centers, and inpatient rehabilitation units.

20 impactful years of leadership

Originally hailing from Washington, D.C., Sheri has filled wellness-centric roles in Virginia, Maryland, California, and North Carolina. In February 2015, while working as a Senior Program Specialist for the City of Raleigh, she received the Parks and Recreation Exceptional Experience Award. She was given this honor for her work related to wellness, adapted sports, recreation, and life skills.

Throughout her career, Sheri has had opportunities to work in aquatic therapy, physical therapy, and a number of other health and wellness practices. Of course, she gained plenty of valuable experience from her work in inpatient settings. However, she discovered that her heart was fullest when she served in a community setting, focusing on overall wellness.

2019 marks Sheri’s 20th year of teaching group exercise and her 8th year of serving as a personal trainer. Here at The Forest, she leads a holistic wellness program. Her favorite aspects of the job include teaching group fitness, facilitating one-on-one goal setting and strategizing, and working as part of a team to collaborate on health and wellness initiatives.

Sheri is certified in Total Resistance Training (TRX). Here she demonstrates one of many ways to use TRX Suspension Straps. Two sets of the straps can be found in the Group Exercise Studio on campus.

“There really is something for everyone here,” she says. Sheri, a certified Functional Aging Specialist, has guided beginners and those with sedentary lifestyles to achieve a more active routine. She’s also encouraged those on an elite level who have made exercise and fitness serious parts of their lives. Sheri is most proud of the program offerings at The Forest. She notes that there’s no shortage of activities for any seeker, “no matter their interest, activity level, or fitness level.”

Making strides at The Forest

Certainly, one of Sheri’s proudest achievements in our community is the launch of The Forest Striders, the off-campus walking group. The Striders, who travel to local and statewide destinations for twice monthly hiking adventures, formed as the result of a survey that Sheri issued to residents in 2017. The overwhelming response to Sheri’s questionnaire indicated that many residents wished for a way to walk and socialize with others, both on campus and off. Since the group’s inception, the Striders have visited places like Pilot Mountain State Park, the Hillsborough Riverwalk, Little River Regional Park Natural Area, and Morgan Creek Trail.

A lovely photo of Duke Gardens, taken by Sheri during one of her outings with The Forest Striders in June.

A well rounded program

Beyond the Striders, Sheri has crafted a truly robust health and wellness calendar for Forest residents. Strength conditioning, T’ai Chi, therapeutic aquatics, square dancing, table tennis, and Zumba make up just a small sampling of the weekly classes offered on campus. Sheri is also a certified Total Brain Health (TBH) Instructor, leading interactive, group-based brain fitness workshops, which address multiple dimensions of wellness – physical, intellectual, emotional, and social. Along with several others, Sheri is also a key player behind the Forest Thrive program; this initiative supports the total wellbeing of every Forest team member.

In mid-October, Sheri – along with Sandy Mouras (Director of Resident Life) and Meghan Rodriguez (Activities Program Manager) – will lead “8 Wellness Dimensions/365: Supporting Active Aging Year-Round” at the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) Conference, Leadership Summit and Expo in Orlando, Florida. The ladies will teach attendees how to incorporate a diversity of wellness dimension-based programming year-round. They will also discuss exciting residents about the importance of engaging with the different dimensions of wellness.

The Forest is grateful to have such an experienced and knowledgeable Fitness Program Manager and is made all the better because of Sheri’s compassion and advocacy for the members of our community. Sheri’s passion for wellness shines through every facet of her work and will undoubtedly continue to fuel her incredible impact on The Forest at Duke for years to come!

Lauren Young, Marketing Specialist

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