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Hop ’Til You Drop

Live Like You Can

By Janis McDonald


Here’s an example of someone who followed the philosophy “Live Like You Can, Die Like You Want.” This is exactly what my long-time friend and exercise partner did at 98. Anneliese Moore lived her life and died her death precisely as she planned. Living alone, cooking her fresh vegan food, walking in her swimming pool at night when she couldn’t sleep, falling in love with Mr. Google, who kept her brain on fire, and raking her garden clean of plumeria flowers every morning.

When I was 29 and teaching “killer” high impact, “hop ’til you drop” sports conditioning classes to music by Prince and other slightly off-color artists, Anneliese walked into my class ready to workout. She was 64, gray-haired, determined and there to stay. My heart filled with fear and trepidation at the thought!

My class was filled with young men and women who sweated, yelled, competed, and made today’s boot camp classes look like kindergarten. I thought, “Oh no, Anneliese will be my first and final fatality, ending my aerobic teaching career forever.”

Being the strong-willed and resolute person I grew to love and think of as my second mother, she refused to leave and claimed her workout spot. Class continued as I kept a close eye on the only gray hair bopping up and down, cautiously reminding her to take it easy.

Very quickly, Anneliese became my dedicated exercise partner and “roadie,” supporting all of my fitness adventures, including the Body by Janis TV Show filmed on the beaches of Hawaii (1982-1990). Every week she would haul 20 big exercise mats in her car to the beach location for the shoot and exercise all day in the hot sun, which included five sweaty wardrobe changes. At the end of the day, she returned the mats to my upstairs studio, all on her own, with energy to spare.

Our travels together included her recovery from breast cancer at 66. After meeting Dr. John McDougall, the forefather of healing illness with a no-fat, vegan diet, she refused a mastectomy and committed vigilantly to this diet. In fact, years later she survived a return breast cancer by tightening up on her zero fat vegan diet once again.

During those crazy TV years, Anneliese quickly became the silver-haired hero for people watching at home. Folks said, “If Anneliese can do it, I can do it.” She was an inspirational light and mentor for thousands of older people during her “fitness” career.

In 2006, I returned to Hawaii to update video footage for Boomers By Janis. At 94, Anneliese proudly showed off her driver’s license, exercise routine, and straight posture for the camera. She was still going strong and making the needed modifications to her life so she could live like she wanted, accepting the changes she could not change, and courageously improving the things she could.

At 98 she tripped, cut her arm and had to be hospitalized. Upon release, the hospital insisted she go to Poha Nani Nursing Home to rehab her arm. She adamantly refused, yet this was one of the few battles she lost.

Anneliese always told me, if I can’t live in my home of 60 years, then I am out of here! My tough, resilient friend died that evening.

Anneliese lived through every war since World War I, which impacted her life in so many ways. She was a member of the greatest generation, seeing the world with a wisdom forged from her early life. While she was not prone to hugging, kissing and emotion, we did have a final goodbye on my last trip to Hawaii, knowing that we would not see each other again.

My dear friend, supporter, mentor and teacher, I miss you greatly.

Janis McDonald, Longtime resident of SMA, Wellness Coach, Private Gym


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