Tennis champion and 6-time Grey Cup winner make health a priority together.
Jan Penning and Tom Towns are an Edmonton couple who thoroughly believe in doing their utmost to stay healthy and well.
Tom, an Edmonton Eskimos football star, who played from 1975-1984 (winning six Grey Cups) is now an accomplished business owner and jewellery designer with Kline Fine Jewellery and Design. Jan is a skilled dental hygienist, and a long-time competitive tennis player, who most recently won the Tennis Canada Women’s Western Indoor Championship (ages 60+), in April.
“BE FIT FOR LIFE.”
After dating briefly in the 1970s, Tom and Jan married other people, and each had two children, now grown. Jan had moved to Toronto, while Tom made his life in Edmonton.
After their marriages ended, fate brought Jan and Tom together again in late 2002. In November, Jan and her daughter, Jasmine, who now lived in Edmonton, met at the US Open (Tennis Championships). Jasmine wasn’t wearing a piece of jewellery that Jan had given her, and Jan wondered what had become of it. Jasmine explained the jewellery needed repairs, and suggested when Jan came to Edmonton they could get the piece fixed at Jasmine’s favoured shop—which happened to be Tom’s store.
Eventually, the women went to Tom’s business to have the repairs done. Jan wasn’t certain Tom would recognize her—and he didn’t. Jasmine re-introduced them, and Tom questioned, “My Jan?” The relationship rekindled then and there.
After about a year of monthly visits to Edmonton by Jan, Tom suggested she move here. Jan got her registration to work as a dental hygienist in Alberta, and began “temping” in both Edmonton and Toronto. In 2003, she relocated here permanently.
“Live life with passion.”
In 2013, at an Easter dinner with friends, Tom surprised everyone by proposing to Jan, putting a wine wrapper on her finger. The jeweller later replaced the wrapper with a beautiful ring. The couple combined an already-planned sailing trip in Greece with a romantic wedding on the island of Mykonos.
These days, both have busy schedules filled with family and work. Jan takes the lead in regard to fitness and nutrition in the household, but Tom does most of the cooking. They happily live life together, but allow each other to “do their own thing.”
An athlete all her life, Jan loves all sports, especially tennis; gymnastics; downhill skiing; waterskiing; long-distance running; dancing, and, occasionally, golf. Her philosophy is to “be fit for life,” and includes eating well about 90% of the time, and allowing herself to “cheat” the other 10%.
Jan’s athletic past includes twice participating on Canadian National Teams in tennis, winning two Easter Indoor Tennis Championships, being a finalist in a couple of Western championships, and running two marathons for fun, in Toronto. Her long-term goal is to make the national team (over 60s) for next year. Jan competes “for the love of sport—not for money.”
Jan frequents the Royal Glenora Club for fitness and training. Her routine starts about 5:30 am, with about 1 ½ hours of tennis before she heads to work. Since she started training in the morning, Jan finds she doesn’t get stressed and is happier in her day to day life. She is able to “let things go” more easily. She also has a personal “mantra” she employs on the tennis court, tapping her leg to help her get rid of negative thoughts.
Wednesday nights, Jan practices tennis with a group of other provincial and national female competitors, aged 30-73 years. She also takes private tennis lessons. In all, she estimates she plays tennis about 12 hours per week.
After previous shoulder surgery, Jan also benefits from a physiotherapy session on occasion.
Jan and Tom also have a weight room in their home, and Jan works out there at least four times each week. Tom likes to use their elliptical machine and do weights, as well. In addition, Jan is an avid gardener who does all of her own yard work. Tom plays some tennis, too, and occasionally takes part in other fitness activities.
“Staying healthy and fit.”
Moreover, Tom and Jan’s healthy way of living encompasses good nutrition. Jan starts most mornings with a special shake—comprised of almond milk; high-quality protein powder; avocado; kale, and a whole banana. Sometimes, she might eat a two-egg omelet, with some mozzarella cheese; mushrooms; and ham, along with fruit on the side.
As mentioned earlier, Tom is the chef in the household, with a great reputation among friends and family. He learned his culinary skills on his own, and possesses a cupboard full of recipe books, including a 1993 Edmonton Eskimos Championship cookbook. He employs recipes as a guide, making each dish his own. Tom concocts signature fare such as prime rib; beef tenderloin on the rotisserie; and a turkey breast roll with cranberry and cherry stuffing, accompanied by his cranberry sauce.
Jan Penning and Tom Towns live life together with passion, letting each other be who they are, and respecting each other’s independence. Staying healthy and fit, and eating well, allows them to do what they enjoy. Jan plans to compete in tennis into her 90s!