Ann Merrill Retires After 23 Years

Emily Grotta

April was a very bittersweet month at the Tuscany Fitness Center. On April 29, after teaching her last class, Ann Merrill hung up her microphone and ended her 23-year stint here, where she affected the health and wellness of thousands of residents and guests.

Ann helped us recover from hip surgeries and knee replacements, torn ligaments and broken bones. And we encouraged Ann through four knee surgeries, the gradual failing of her parents and the sale of their house, and her move to Sun City Festival.

Ann’s classes were never just about exercise. There were lessons in body anatomy and the importance of balance. And she kept our minds fit by inventing ever more involved routines. “Step touch.” “March three and kick.” “Jazz square right.” “V-step left.” We were a well-trained corps who usually were successful at following … but not always.

We were amazed how Ann knew everyone’s name, even those who were taking their very first class with her. She would recognize us one by one, encouraging us to push harder, to tighten our abs, and keep our glutes up. And she would recognize our accomplishments: holes-in-one, pickleball championships, performances with ShowTime, and awards in the annual Art Show.

Ann’s classes were always a delight because of the personal stories she told to keep us laughing and holding our interest. We got to know Ann not only as an exercise guru, but as a whole person, with joys and sorrows, health issues, and travel adventures. We knew about her parentsthe Sally Ann of our leg exerciseand her son, who worked at Toscana’s in high school.

In other words, she was one of us.

Ann’s career as a fitness instructor and certified personal trainer began 50 years ago, when she was just 17. She came to PebbleCreek before there was a Fitness Center, teaching at Eagle’s Nest. She taught everything ever offered, except for yoga, and was instrumental in the ever-expanding opportunities for an active lifestyle.

Whenever Ann asked us to follow a particularly difficult set of exercises and she would see some of us flagging, she’d yell out, “Love it?” to which all of us would shout, “Love it!”

Yes Ann, we loved it. We loved having our day start with an hour of exercise, joy, and happiness, and we loved getting to share our lives with you. There’s only one Ann Merrill, and she will be sorely missed in PebbleCreek.