The Kingsley Association

“Permit Me to Introduce Myself”

Willa Booker


Permit me to introduce myself; I’m Willa M. Booker, commonly known as Dolly. I’m a happily retired Teacher and Counselor, previously employed by Pittsburgh Public Schools for 26 years.


I enjoy traveling. I’ve been to Africa, Rome, Paris, London,Alaska, Hawaii (twice) and most of the Caribbean Islands. I just scheduled my 9th cruise. Yes, retirement is great and I want tobe around to enjoy it.


My first membership with the Kingsley Association was in 1971 when I was a spry, young lady. I studied the martial art of Ju-Jitsu where I earned a 5th degree brown belt under the leadership and guidance of Master Ted Flewellen. Upon his death, I left the martial arts and never returned to the Kingsley. I was no longer physically active; therefore, at the age of 17, I began to struggle with weight. I went up, down, up and down. Like many African Americans, I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

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On July 30, 2013, a cousin of mine came to visit. When she walked in the door I stared at her. She was half the size she used to be. She had lost 65 pounds. I couldn’t believe it! I immediately asked how she did it. Her answer was, “one pound a week.” It seemed simple but a long way off! Like everyone else, I have always wanted immediate gratification. I want it all gone in a month; wouldn’t that be nice?


I’ve never been able to stick to a diet long. My first thought was, “this will never work, it will take too long.” I recall my cousin breaking it down to me as clear as day. She said, “You’ve spent a life-time putting it on, can’t you give yourself one year to take it off?” She also said, “There are 52 weeks in a year. At just one pound a week, you can take off 52 pounds; some weeks you’ll probably lose more.” Putting it that way finally got my attention. It was music to my ear. She said, “Believe me, if I did it, so can you!”


My conversation with her gave me much needed hope. I began to believe if she did it, so can I. I realize if I was to set out on this year long journey, I would not only need to change my eating habits but I would need to become more physically active as well.


I used to be a member of the Healthy Black Family Program at the Kingsley but like all of my other weight loss attempts, I didn’t attend long. But, now that I have changed my way of thinking and have changed my attitude, I believe I can do it! I decided if I have to spend my money for this membership, I’m going to get my money’s worth out of it!


Just about every staff member at the Kingsley Association has seen my face on a daily basis. They can attest to the fact that I get every dollars worth out of my membership. They see me in the morning, they see me in the afternoon and they see me in the evening. I put in almost as much time as the staff. I think I’m there enough to earn a paycheck. I recall the Director of the Kingsley telling me, instead of billing me for a membership, he should charge me rent. I’m there five to six days a week, approximately three to three and a half hours each day.


Bagumba Lowery who is always pleasant greets me in the morning at the main desk. We chat for a second then I head to the pool. All of the lifeguards are kind, and supportive. I swim 52 laps from shallow to deep. It takes me one hour and 5 minutes. From there, I head to the gym or to Highland Park where I walk two miles Monday thru Friday. From there, I head to Chris’ Monday and Wednesday one hour-long Cardio class. I leave there and head to the weight room where I sculpt and tone for 45 minutes on our wonderful new machines.


I’m proud to be a member of the Kingsley Association. I could not do this without the help and encouragement that I have received from the Kingsley’s staff.   The Kingsley Association is the best-kept secret in the East End. It’s half the cost of other health clubs and is my home away from home!


Thus far, I am 11 months into this yearlong mission and have lost a total of 48 pounds. I have gone from a 2x tee shirt to a large and from size 16 skinny jeans to size 12. I have one month to go and have no doubt I will accomplish my goal of 52 pounds and maybe, even pass it.

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In the meantime, come join me in the pool…. the water is great. Come join me in Chris’ class; if you want a seat, don’t be late! Join me for a two-mile walk…we’ll have time to talk. Come work out on the machines…they will help you keep fit and lean. Remember, one pound a week takes off 52! On July 31st, I’ll let you know how I do. I’ll tell it to you like it was told to me, “If I can do it, you can too!”


I wish to thank The Voice and the Director of the Kingsley Association for allowing me to share my story. It is my hope thatit will inspire someone else just as my cousin Alfreda inspired me!


Author: Willa M. Booker

8 responses to ““Permit Me to Introduce Myself””

  1. Donna says:

    Great work Dolly! I enjoy talking to you after my swim. You are an inspiration!

  2. Edna Bishop says:

    Willa,What a great story! You are a wonderful advertisement for anyone looking for a excellent place to explore fitness . I too love Kingsley and the warm and caring people there. Keep up the awesome work.

  3. David Shelton says:

    What a wonderful story Dolly. This is an inspiration to me and everyone I know! Thanks!


  4. Maurice n Tamara Speaks says:

    Congrats! Cousin Dolly,
    Nothing worth while is ever easy. You have always been a beautiful person inside and out, the complete package is all that and more! Dolly you look great! Keep up the good work!


    Your Fam,
    The Speaks

  5. Elise says:

    Our paths have crossed before; I don’t remember if I know you from Church, or bowling or what, but I am so happy that I came across your words of inspiration and motivation! I am probably 75 pounds or so overweight, but right now I am going to make the effort to just try to “lose one pound a week”. Thank You!

    • Dolly Booker says:

      Hi Elise:
      Thank you for sharing such kind remarks.
      If I did it, so can you!
      When your goal becomes one pound, it
      seems a lot easier to accomplish.

      Good Luck,

  6. Dolly Booker says:

    Thanks Sis.
    I am now at 49 lbs and still counting!

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