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Meet Ms. Duck And Her Online Exercise Party

Ms. Duck's classes take place Wednesdays at noon on Facebook Live. [Cleveland Heights Parks and Recreation]
Ms. Duck's classes take place Wednesdays at noon. [Cleveland Heights Parks and Recreation]

Her real name is Earlene Starksmarshall, but her friends call her Ms. Duck – a nickname she got after meeting her husband, whose nickname is Duck.

For more than a decade, the lifelong Clevelander has been teaching an exercise class for seniors at the Cleveland Heights Senior Center.

Now, for the sake of social distancing, she teaches the class remotely through Facebook Live.

“I always have a good time doing it, too, because I like the people that I work with,” Ms. Duck said. “I want to keep a connection with them so that when and if the pandemic is over, then I would be able to connect with them when they come back, and encourage them to come back.”

Her in-person classes had about 25 people each. Now that her class is online, Ms. Duck draws much bigger crowds. Each of her videos typically attracts hundreds of views.

“I’m flattered, but I’m not letting it get to my head,” Ms. Duck said with a laugh. “I’m too old to let it get to my head! I’m almost 80 years old.”

So Ms. Duck knows what she’s talking about when she stresses the importance and staying active at a time many people, especially older people, are staying home, social distancing and unable to get to gyms and recreation centers.

“Moving our bodies and things like that is important to me, and I think it’s important to the people that I teach because my philosophy is when you stop moving, you stop moving,” she said. “I’ve seen it happen to people and they sit down and they don’t do anything. Then when they get up and try to do something, they can’t.”  

While Ms. Duck’s online exercises videos are made to keep seniors exercising, she sure makes it seem like a party – and everyone at any age loves a party. Her classes are always accompanied by upbeat music – she’s a big Michael Jackson fan – and feature shout-outs to her regulars by name. She says it makes her feel like she’s with them.

“Some of them have called me up and go, ‘Oh, Ms. Duck I saw you on TV.’”

Ms. Ducks’ classes are live on the Cleveland Heights Parks and Recreation Facebook page every Wednesday at noon.

Gabriel Kramer is a Filipino American journalist from Medina, Ohio. He studied journalism at Kent State University and is a proud member of the Asian American Journalists Association.