Laurie Ruoti started her CPS (Chicago Public School) career in 2005 at Marconi Elementary Community Academy, then accepted a position as the Special Education Teacher at Hamline Elementary in the Back of the Yards in 2008.
Throughout her career, Laurie made it a point to stay active after school. She went to the gym, did a little running and took weekly yoga classes. However, her long drive from the Back of the Yards to her home on the Northside made it difficult to fit in exercise.
Six months before retiring in June 2021, Laurie started working out with a trainer. Her determination and consistency impressed her trainer, and he encouraged her to attend a women’s powerlifting seminar. Laurie was hesitant at first, but then decided to delve out of her comfort zone and try something new.
Laurie is now getting ready for her third competition this summer. She holds two American Powerlifting Federation Illinois State records for her age group in two different weight classes. She can deadlift 230 pounds, squat 165 pounds and bench press 110 pounds.
“Lifting makes me feel powerful," says Laurie. “Especially for a woman of my generation – we were not necessarily raised to value physical strength. The process of weight lifting has been empowering for me.”
In addition to powerlifting, Laurie decided to do a 200-hour yoga teacher certification last October. She completed it in April and is now teaching three yoga classes a week. She enjoys the structure and that she gets to continue to use her teaching skills. Laurie’s activeness does not stop there, she also does a lot of hiking, biking and kayaking.
Laurie has not only found physical strength in retirement, but strength within herself by broadening her horizons. She has redefined retirement as a time to find structure and stay active and encourages other retirees to do the same.