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John W. Shropshire, Jr. "Big John"

"I can motivate a rock"

www.r-sports.com/hsf/aerobics/johnshro.htm

Thy Way, Oh Lord
From the memorial service, Saturday, September 20, 1997

Born November 29, 1953, the youngest child of John (Deceased) and Florine Shropshire, John Wesley Shropshire, Jr. was affectionately known as "Wesley" or "Big John" to family and friends. He attended Washington High School and Southern Technical Institute, graduating witha degree in Architectural Engineering Technology. He was a member of First African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Wesley progressed through the ranks of the United States Army, Field Artillery Branch tothe rank of Major. During his distinguished Military Career, he served in a variety of command, management, staff and leadership positions. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by order of the Secretary of defense after more than fourteen (14) years of service to the United States.

A passion begun while in the military continued after retiring - Wesley extended his involvement with aaerobics after becoming an Aerobics Instructor with Gold's Gym. His exuberant personality and easy manner thrust him into the forefront as an Aerobics Instructor, which ultimately developed into acontract to do fitness videos for Reebok on Fit TV; a series of videos for Time Life Medical and an ABC 20/20 segment on fitness coming in all sizes (Jan. 24, 1997). He also served as a guest Aerobics Instructor for NASA Kids pavilion at the Hutnsville, Alabama Wellness Expo.

John Wesley Shropshire, Jr. Possessed a warm, generous, non-intimidating personality which was inspiring to others. He was regarded as the ultimate motivator which inspired his byline "I Can Motivate a Rock". A devoted son, loving brother and uncle, John Wesley's attitude was always happy, friendly and caring.

John Wesley is survived by his adored mother, Florine Moses Shropshire; sisters, Janice Delores (Tim) Gurley, and Verona Cynthia Durdeen, two adopted sisters, Ruby M. Lewis and Gaynelle B. Hill; godmother, Eva Anderson; niece, Kayamma M. Lewis; nephews, Kenya D. and Kawan D. Durden and a host of uncles, aunts, cousins and friends.

Locally, John was quite well known for his enthusiasm for aerobics and his incredible energy. In March, 1995, John was selected to be on the front cover of the local magazine "Huntsville Athlete" because he embodied the spirit of being an athlete. We become athletes not by the shape of our bodies but by our commitment to change and develop ourselves as better persons. John exemplified the drive, enthusiasm and energy we all get from actively pursuing life. He loved life and everyone he came in contact with. When attending his aerobics classes everyone could feel his energy and adored him for his outrageous ways that
could turn a class full of zombies into a room full of gyrating bodies having too much fun to care about what anyone else thought. He brought fun to a new level in aerobics classes in the area.
John developed a love of aerobics while still in the military and continued on with this interest after retiring. He only wanted to participate in aerobics classes but his enthusiasm was so contagious that the gym staff asked that he teach aerobics. Once he realized the gift he had to help change people's attitudes about exercise his energy level soared even higher along with his class sizes and energy levels. He developed a reputation around the area as one of the most fun and motivating instructors
All of the other insturctors around him admired his talents and learned from him. He also learned from everyone around him and would humbly admire the gifts of each person he met. John found the good in all people and was always eager to bring that good out of others, even when they couldn't see it themselves. He touched quite a few lives through his caring outside of class as well as his energy in class.
As much as he enjoyed working with adults, John had a definite passion in working with children. He loved them more than anything else and maybe that is how he was able to embrace life with such joy and take pleasure in the simple things. Many children needed a motivator. A reason to be positive and happy and strive for the better things of life. Around John they needed nothing else to have fun. Sometimes you could not even tell John from the kids. Along with his desire to be an
inspiration to children, John had other dreams and goals and continually improved himself to become a better aerobics instructor. He attended many seminars and learned various types
of aerobics styles and then imbued them with his own personal style which supercharged them with excitement and fun. Even though he did not look the part of being an aerobics instructor, he could bring anyone to their knees if they wanted a challenge. John's boldest move came when he went to Florida to compete for a chance to be a spokesperson for Reebok. He didn't really expect to be selected, but he went to have fun. It was precisely because he could have fun that he was
selected to be part of the team. The judges said that they never expected to select someone who was built like John, but they just couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with someone who could drive up the energy levels and take such command of the stage as John could. This opportunity allowed John to make a difference to many people around the world as he travelled and made videos. People would come up to him and tell him he made the
Memorial contributions:
First AME Church
C/O John Wesley Shropshire, Jr.
2046 Richard Allen Lane, SE
Atlanta, GA 30316
difference in their life to exercise. You can still catch some of John's videos on cable TV. You will know him by the whistle he always wore. It was his trademark tool with his deep booming voice which pushed all of us to work harder and have fun doing it. We will miss you John, and we will always hear your whistle during class.
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