In 1989, outfitted with ankle weights and listening to her Walkman, Joanna Rohrback discovered her passion. Instead of doing a straight-ahead power-walk, she let her body move with a slight sashay to the music from her headphones and, as she felt the extra stretch in her arms and legs, realized that she had discovered something new.
Enthralled with the fluid movement, she developed a unique exercise system, which she called Prancercise. She promptly submitted a video to the Library of Congress for copyright protection, wrote a book in 1994, set out to share her exercise approach more broadly, and, unfortunately, found that marketing the product without a support system was a challenge. And, when she approached the "big wigs" at production and distribution companies, they wanted proof of a market demand - something that's hard to get without their support.
By the latter part of 2012, though, there was a new way to let people know about her approach - the Internet. After many years spent caring for her mother and managing her own health challenges, Rohrback revisited her ideas and decided to try again. With a website, a printed book and the viral results of YouTube, she's found a mix of publicity, enthusiasm and opportunity from the sudden fame that Prancercise has brought her way.
"I've been recognized in a whole new light," Rohrback says, laughing. "I've had the chance to really explain my program and teach it, and to do what I really enjoy, because my passion is this program."
And, thanks to The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, she can add Parade Grand Marshall to her 2013 list of achievements.
Rohrback will be Prancercising during the Red Dress Fantastically Fun Jaunt on the morning of October 26 and will lead the festival's costume parade as grand marshall later in the day.
The festival is a weeklong series of events. Before Saturday's Prancercise-accented festivities, there are several other events to celebrate all things spooky:
So what costume will Rohrback wear to the parade?
"I don't believe I will wear a costume," says Rohrback, "Because I think people will more likely try to look like me. I'm a sort of a high profile character. For Halloween, people get a chance to be something different, to be in a different role than they're used to being every day. Me? My life is fun enough."
There will also be a book signing of Rohrback's "Prancercise: The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence" on Saturday.