Today is Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Woman of Wilson: Peggy Keel

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Peggy Keel

Sports Village Owner Peggy Keel is a human "Energizer Bunny."

She has run a successful business for almost 28 years - and is continuing to do so, while also finding time to play with her three grandchildren and travel the globe with her beau, Jan Rubins. In her early sixties Keel maintains the physique and active lifestyle of someone half her age.

She told The Wilson Post on Monday it is all about positive thinking and healthy habits. "I smile and laugh a lot. I love being around people who also have a positive attitude," she said.

Although Keel has always considered herself to be a positive person, she received a wakeup call in 2011 that prompted her to live life to the fullest.

A benign tumor located on her kidney ruptured, nearly killing her. "I was on life support for five days. A lot of people said that I am still here because I have done aerobics my entire life. My heart was strong enough to keep me alive," she said.

Keel, who was born and raised in Lebanon to the late J.W. and Frances Vanhook, was the first local aerobics teacher in 1977. She taught classes at school gyms for years before deciding to open her own dream gym, Sports Village, chartered in 1987.

"With aerobics I only taught women. I noticed big changes in them after they started my classes. The same woman who came in looking tired and drained was standing taller, being more confident and had more energy after just a few weeks," Keel explained. "When people leave exercise classes - they leave happier because of the endorphins. I don't think I've ever witnessed someone leave angry."

With Sports Village her mission expanded from helping women to helping entire families. "I wanted this project to be about something bigger than me. I wanted it to touch the community," she said.

Keel continues to teach a "Dance It Off" class at Sports Village, two days a week. She also works with the Lebanon-Wilson Chamber of Commerce for the Go Johnny Go Walk/Run each year, which raises funds for the Johnny Keel Wellness Foundation, founded in honor of her late husband.

"Having my near-death experience in 2011 just renewed my mission to help people. At the end of the day, helping people is what it is all about."

When she isn't teaching, Keel enjoys traveling. One of her favorite trips with Rubins was to Europe, where they visited Monaco, Paris, France and Italy.

At home she loves to be "Do Mama" to her grandbabies, Rylee, Gavin and Liam. "They came up with the name Do Mama because I am constantly doing something," Keel said of her special nickname.

Her grown children, Jeff McMillen and Laura Trantum assist her at Sports Village with maintenance and marketing, respectively. McMillen's wife Nicole runs the children's programs.

"We have a wonderful staff," Keel added. "Without a good staff you don't have a good business."

Women who influenced her life are her mother, and her Aunt Dot. "My mother was the sweetest lady and my Aunt Dot had so much energy. They were both spunky women. I had so much fun with the two of them."

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