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Murray Journal

Mother and daughter — with 170 years of life between them — swear by their workouts at The Park Center

Sep 05, 2019 03:35PM ● By Carl Fauver

Mother and daughter Ruth and Cheryl Hlavaty (R-L) can often be seen on this exercise equipment at The Park Center in Murray Park. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

With 28th President Woodrow Wilson in the White House and just three weeks after the Volstead Act ushered in America’s 13-year Prohibition era, Ruth Hlavaty came bounding into the world. That was February 9, 1920, more than six months before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote.  

Now, 17 presidents later — and five months short of her 100th birthday — Ruth does her bounding a few times each week into The Park Center in Murray Park. And she never goes without her spry daughter Cheryl, 71, at her side.

“I was born in Chicago in 1920,” Ruth said recently during a break from riding an exercise bike at the spacious recreation center. “I also had all three of my children in Chicago, before we moved across the country to the Los Angeles area.”

Born August 5, 1948, Cheryl was the middle of those three kids. She is one of The Park Center’s original members joining when the facility opened in 2002. Five years later, Ruth moved into her daughter’s Murray home. And the pair are as well recognized at the recreation center as anyone.

“How can you not love Ruth and Cheryl?” The Park Center Director Marci Williams said. “They are friendly with everyone. They have the cutest workout tights. We have city firefighters who work out in here a lot and they know them well. They are a great part of our center.”

And simply by the number of trips they have each made around the sun, the Hlavatys are also a testament to the health benefits of regular exercise.

“I have never smoked; I watch my diet; and I only ever drank socially,” Ruth said. “But, I am also sure, remaining active and getting exercise has helped me stay healthy. Cheryl will be alone when I pass away. I don’t want that to happen. So I stay busy.”

Director Williams said Ruth and Cheryl are among hundreds of The Park Center members who are Social Security eligible.

“We have 2,150 center members age 60 and older,” Williams said. “Nearly a 1,000 of those (945) are age 75 and above…424 are over age 80…87 of our members are age 90 and above… and 2 are more than 100 years old.”

Next Feb. 9, Ruth will be the center’s third centenarian.

“She has remained very active since retiring in 1985,” Cheryl said of her mother. “We used to walk every morning, sometimes a couple of times in a day. Mom has Type 2 diabetes, so I watch her diet very carefully. She takes a few medications every day. But she is very healthy.”

In the mid-1950s, the Hlavaty family loaded up and moved from Chicago to Southern California. Since that was long before our network of interstates was completed, much of the drive was made on historic Route 66.

From 1962 to 1985, Ruth was a Western Airlines purchasing secretary working at Los Angeles International Airport. “I still keep in touch with my old boss, and he’s now age 85,” Ruth added.

In the meantime, Cheryl was the athlete of the family. She started first at San Diego State University and later transferred to Brigham Young University, competing in volleyball and tennis. She earned her bachelor’s degree at BYU in 1973 and later a master’s degree at the University of Utah.

When you ask Ruth, “What do you believe is the biggest reason you have lived so long?” she offers a one-word response: “Exercise.”  

The Park Center director is inclined to agree. The 1978 Murray High School graduate —and only director the recreation center has ever had — Williams said many studies show what a positive impact exercise has on quality and longevity of life.

“Older people who remain active and social have been shown to stay healthier and have less depression,” Williams said. “And it is never too late to get started. My own mother did not take her first water exercise class until age 65. She’s now 89 and still attending those classes here.”

Williams also promises, even if you have never exercised regularly before, she or someone on her staff can consult with you and start you off modestly. For more information about The Park Center visit or call 801-284-4200.