Attendees of Shelley Meyer’s spinning class don’t come because she’s the wife of The Ohio State University’s football coach. They come to sweat.
And that goes for Shelley herself, too.
“I get a little upset when I see an instructor not working out,” says Shelley, who has been a certified spinning instructor since 1999. “I feel like I can coach people in their workout while I’m also working out hard with them.”
The classes she teaches two days a week at the Premier at Sawmill Athletic Club are stress relief for Shelley, who has stayed busy since moving to Dublin.
“Getting that workout in every morning helps me get rid of some of my stress. I feel better mentally, and then I can get to some of the other things on my calendar,” Shelley says.
The last year since her husband, Urban, took on the head coaching job at OSU has been a whirlwind for the Meyer family. Though Columbus is close to home for the couple – Shelley grew up in Frankfort, outside Chillicothe – moving back from Florida was difficult for her. She was concerned about Urban’s health and also sad to leave the friends they’d made in the six years they lived there.
Thankfully, she found her neighbors in Muirfield and the parents at St. Brigid of Kildare School, where son, Nate, attends, to be extraordinarily kind and welcoming, and this has eased the transition tremendously.
By the time football season rolled around, Shelley was set up as a spinning teacher at Premier and a part-time clinical nursing instructor at The Ohio State University College of Nursing.
Her focus on health has been lifelong. Shelley grew up on a farm and performed many active chores, such as lifting hay bales, but her first sports experience was with “Biddy Basketball” when she was in about the third grade. Later, she participated in softball; and played volleyball and basketball and ran track at Adena High School in Frankfort.
“I was a three-sport athlete through high school,” Shelley says.
But once she got to college at the University of Cincinnati, her participation in team sports dropped off.
“It wasn’t as common for girls to play a sport in college (in the 1980s),” she says. Shelley played volleyball for fun and began running and taking aerobics classes at a local gym. Soon, she became an aerobics instructor – while still attending nursing school.
“That and nursing went hand-in-hand for me,” says Shelley, who is a psychiatric nurse. “I just believe so much in the relationship between how you feel about yourself and your health. … Mental health and physical health go together.”
Nursing runs in Shelley’s family and was always an aspiration of hers. Her grandmother, Betty Cory, was a nurse for 20 years at the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
“I grew up admiring her and her profession, taking care of people,” Shelley says. “Really, there was nothing else ever in my vision, except briefly, I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician.”
At the end of her first year of nursing school, in 1984, she met Urban. After graduation, Shelley moved to Columbus for a year to work at OSU’s Harding Hospital – while Urban coached under Earle Bruce – before the two were married in July 1989. By that time, Urban had accepted an assistant coaching position at Illinois State. The couple spent the next 16 years moving around the country while Urban pursued his coaching career until he took the head coach position at the University of Florida from 2005 through 2010. It was the longest they had lived anywhere together.
Despite their somewhat nomadic lifestyle, Shelley stayed active – both in her professional career, earning her master’s degree in 1994, and as a fitness instructor – and encouraged their three children to do the same. She brought them along with her to the gym when they were younger, hoping she was being a good role model for a fit lifestyle. It seems to have worked, she says.
“We did encourage them to play (sports), but also to try a lot of things. We did piano and clarinet, but nothing really stuck except ball sports,” she says. Their daughters, Nikki and Gigi, eventually settled on volleyball as their sport of choice. Nate, a seventh-grader at St. Brigid’s, is still a three-sport athlete.
As far as diet, Shelley tries to eat healthfully, cooking with minimal fats and focusing on vegetables and lean meats, and enjoys treats in moderation. As a psychiatric nurse, she is all too aware of the minefield of body-image issues young girls must navigate, so she did her best to steer her own daughters clear of such trouble.
“I was very careful with them. If I was ever in a period where I was trying to drop five to 10 pounds, I never said anything about it,” Shelley says. “I’m happy to say my girls are healthy eaters.”
She’s also managed to get them interested in spinning. Nikki, a senior at Georgia Tech, is considering pursuing spinning certification. Shelley’s appreciation for the form of exercise has only increased as she’s aged.
“I love it especially now because I’m getting a little older and it’s non-impact,” she says. “I get called ‘the Cardio Queen’ by my friends because I love cardio so much. You have this great cardio workout on a bike with music and somebody leading you in a group atmosphere.”
On the days she doesn’t teach spinning, Shelley takes another instructor’s spinning class or works out with a personal trainer. In the fall, she spends a few days a week at OSU teaching nursing students. She spends some “free time” attending Nate’s football, basketball and baseball games, and both she and Urban have gotten involved in local charities; they are the featured names on this year’s Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, Feb. 21-25. And, of course, much of her time is spent attending football-related functions.
“It just seems like whatever you have on your plate, you learn how to manage. Sometimes it’s been really crazy and really busy. I’ve been able to handle it, but I have to be really good at saying ‘no’ to things when I just can’t do one more thing.”
But exercise will always be a priority.
“I believe you have to stay active to keep your body healthy because there are so many things that you’re at risk for as you get older,” she says. “Like millions of other women, I am very conscious of appearance. I like to eat and I love food, so I’ve got to keep working out.”
Lisa Aurand is editor of Dublin Life Magazine. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.