A solids operator at a Wisconsin wastewater treatment plant turns her hobby of staying healthy and active into another career


Wanda Schnetzer has taken her hobby to a new level. As solids operator at the 11.7 mgd (average) City of Appleton (Wis.) Wastewater Treatment Plant, she started doing yoga six years ago. “I truly believe I am stronger, especially core-wise, and am much more centered and grounded,” Schnetzer says.

Always involved in aerobics, spin classes, marathons and even 100-mile bike rides, Schnetzer prides herself on staying active. “Especially with working the swing shift, I found I needed to have a strict schedule and stay healthy,” she explains. After a graveyard shift, her first yoga experience wasn’t exactly what she expected. “Whoa! This is going to put me to sleep,” she recalls.

 

Turn up the heat

Schnetzer tried Midwest Power Yoga, owned by Deborah Williamson. The yoga center offers faster-paced classes in rooms where temperatures reach 90 degrees F. “Wow! This is my style of yoga,” she says. “I love the heat aspect of it because you really can get so much more flexibility and toxins out of your body. I couldn’t go back to the normal yoga classes in the cold rooms.”

Williamson and the instructors at the yoga center regularly take trips around the world for team building and life coaching. “I thought, these instructors are so much fun, I want to travel with them,” says Schnetzer. She took her first trip with them to Costa Rica and tried the life coaching exercises. “They have you get up in front of a class and teach a yoga pose. I freaked out!” she says. But her fear quickly turned into excitement.

When she returned from a second trip in Bali, “It just kind of hit me. I love yoga,” she says. “I need to do teacher training at Midwest. I’m doing it. I’m going to face the fear. I still have a fear every time I get up in front of a class, but I’m using that fear and excitement to motivate my students. Being able to take that excitement in the teaching and give it to other people is what I love.”

 

Helping others

Schnetzer took the eight-week training course led by Williamson. “I work by myself, so I practiced my yoga practical for when I was training to become an instructor,” she says. “I talk aloud while I’m hosing at the plant!”

Now a certified yoga instructor, Schnetzer has to balance a swing shift as an operator. “When I’m on 3 to 11 p.m. shifts, I’m trying to promote an 11:30 p.m. class for swing-shifters and other crazy people,” she says. “I have an 8 a.m. Body Boot Camp class when I’m on graveyard shift. I sub whenever needed. Because I do the swing shift, I’m able to help out other instructors. I can fill in for other classes.”

Schnetzer’s plant co-workers aren’t yet on board with her hobby. “Most of the operators at my plant are runners,” she says. “They don’t think they can do yoga. I thought of doing an introduction class for everyone.”

Although she doesn’t have a huge following of potential students at the treatment plant, Schnetzer continues to motivate and educate them and others outside the plant about the benefits of yoga. “Turning valves, running up and down stairs, and just being ‘one of the guys,’ I need to stay in shape and on the ball!”


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