At 83 years old, Jeanne Hemmerich lives a very active life keeping up with her husband at their home on Roy Lake.

They remain year-round residents to this day.

"We've been here since 1961 and have seen lots of changes," Hemmerich said. "We don't mind winter, enjoy being out in the winter and walking a little bit. Unless it's slippery, that's getting to be a problem."

A couple years ago she was reading the newspaper and read an article about an upcoming class called Matter of Balance that was going to be at the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa. She thought it would be a good idea to take the class.

"We're pretty active, we dance to old time music, go to the Y when we can, we have a big yard and garden to take care of," Hemmerich said. "... but we're slowing down. I knew the class was good for us, so I decided to do it."

She found she really enjoyed it.

"It was a nice group of people, it was fun!" she recalled, "It was good exercise. We were taught lots of things, like how to get up when you fall. I thought it was interesting how they taught us how to get up without anything to hang on to."

Hemmerich took what she learned and applied it in her home, looking for scatter rugs and things that could be dangerous to trip on like cords. "It was a good class, I enjoyed it. I got my husband to do the exercises together with me a few times a week."

The skills she learned paid off in a very real way.

"We have quite a steep hill to the lake. I was trying to staple white flags on top of some seedlings to keep the deer from nibbling on them. I was leaned over as I did that, and I rolled down the hill. It was fun until I hit bottom! I was home alone, but thankfully I was able to get up. I was then able to walk around and get up the hill. I didn't get hurt at all. I think it's because I keep up with exercise."

In addition to the Matter of Balance class, Hemmerich is a regular in a water aerobics class at the YMCA. Her fitness instructor, Karen Johnson, leads the Crow Wing Energized team.

"Jeanne's story was really powerful," Johnson said. "Because of this class, she was able to get up safely after she had fallen. I would recommend the Matter of Balance course to older adults who are concerned about falling. The goal is to improve their flexibility, balance, and strength. By preventing falls, we can help people avoid any type of fracture since we know they can very debilitating. The Matter of Balance class teaches people exercises that they can do to work on strength as well as balance. It also teaches them how to stay safe in their homes."

The class Hemmerich participated in covered a variety of topics, all evidence-based ways to help reduce the risk of falls.

Every Matter of Balance Course covers:

Session 1: Course description and fall concerns,

Session 2: Ways to think about falls and importance of recognizing concerns,

Session 3: Effects of physical activity and balance exercises,

Session 4: Physical risk factors and asking for what you need,

Session 5: Action plan for exercise and how to change unhelpful thoughts,

Session 6: Exercises and recognizing and changing Fall-ty habits,

Session 7: Exercises, common home hazards and creating an action plan,

Session 8: Exercises and create an action plan for a Fall-ty habit.


Attend a Matter of Balance class

A Matter of Balance free classes will be in Brainerd and Crosslake this fall.

Do you have concerns about yourself or a loved one falling? Many older adults experience concerns about falling and restrict their activities to avoid risk.

One way to help prevent falls is to participate in a Matter of Balance class, an award-winning program designed to manage falls and increase activity levels.

Classes are free and two-hour classes are once a week for eight weeks

Participants will learn to:

  • view falls as controllable,
  • set goals for increasing activity,
  • make changes to reduce fall risks at home,
  • exercise to increase strength and balance.

Who should attend?

  • anyone concerned about falls,
  • anyone interested in improving balance, flexibility and strength,
  • anyone who has fallen in the past,
  • anyone who has restricted activities because of falling concerns.



1 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Starts Sept. 3

Crosslake Lutheran Church



1 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Starts Sept. 9

Brainerd Family YMCA


Registration is required at or contact Karen Johnson at 218-828-7443.

Become a matter of balance trainer

Interested in becoming a volunteer trainer with the Matter of Balance falls prevention program?

Coach Leader Requirements:

  • Agree to coach two Matter of Balance Workshops within one year of certification.
  • Attend coach training taught by the Master Trainer and earn a Matter of Balance Coach Certification.

Training is 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Aug. 13-14 at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building.

Registration is required at, or contact Karen Johnson at 218-828-7443.