Member Spotlight: Mike Henderson

Posted on Friday, April 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am

Goodbye and Good Luck to Mike Henderson

After 17 years as one of the J’s most popular fitness trainers, Mike Henderson said a bittersweet goodbye last month as he and his wife, Marge, headed to Northern California and new adventures. More than 80 people gathered on Tuesday afternoon, March 15, to wish Mike a heartfelt Goodbye and Good Luck!  Many people expressed their gratitude for how much he helped them over the years, but along with the gratitude were stories about how they met Mike, how much Mike taught them, how Mike inspired them to keep going when it was the last thing they wanted to do. Some people had tears in their eyes as they expressed how much Mike means to them and how much they will miss his warmth and sense of humor. And more than one remarked on his great laugh.

 In his comments about Mike, Executive Director Jeffrey Rips enthused about how much Mike has done for the J, and how much we will miss him, “It says in the Talmud that whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.  Michael has truly changed and saved the lives of countless AJCC members and has made a tremendous impact on the entire world.” 

In Mike’s farewell speech to the group, he emphasized how much he will miss the people at the J and that everything he does is for his clients. Using Sid Schulman as an example of what you can accomplish when a client and trainer put their mind to it, he told the story of how the doctors said that Sid would never walk again after his stroke. Mike then helped Sid out of his wheelchair, and Sid took several steps towards Mike, showing everyone in the room how doctors are often wrong, especially if they underestimate a patient and his trainer!

Mike strongly believes that the AJCC fitness motto, “You Belong Here, Too,” is absolutely true and that the J is a place for everyone. “The Center crosses all religions and all ethnic barriers. I’m not Jewish, but I belong here. The J has been a wonderful place to work, and the people here have gotten me through a lot of tough times. From the management down, this place is nothing but heart. The heart of the people are what is at the crux of a community center, and the J believes in everyone, from children through teens and up to grandparents and great grandparents.”

 Over the past 17 years, Mike has worked as a Personal Trainer, Exercise Specialist, Interim Director of Health and Physical Education, and the Director of Health and Physical Education. In looking back on his years here, he emphasized that all he has ever wanted to do was help people from every walk of life, and working at the J gave him the freedom to do that. Because the J is so supportive and caring, he was able to be compassionate and give away several sessions a week for people with MS or who can’t afford it or with other difficulties. “The staff is great. The management is great. In fact, everyone is great. Management errs on the side of people rather than profit, and I love that about the J. They truly embody the Jewish values of compassion and lovingkindness. I will really miss working here.” And we will miss you, Mike!

Blog by Erika Silver Hillinger

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