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P loke’s story began in Agana, Guam. He and his family relocated to San Francisco when he was 10 years old. By the time he was in high school they’d moved to the South Bay. At the age of 16 Ploke discovered martial arts, which turned out to be a perfect companion to his love of physical fitness. “I tried it out and just fell in love with it,” Ploke said. “What I liked about it was the physical fitness portion of being strong, being flexible, having the mental discipline.” Ploke is quite accomplished in the area of martial arts and has advanced to a six-degree black belt (out of 10), level. Throughout his 10 years of competing he has received numerous trophies in both the Kata and Kumite styles of freestyle fighting. After high school Ploke attended Foothill De Anza College where his interest in martial arts transitioned from participant to teacher. The encouragement of a De Anza martial arts instructor led Ploke to accept an assistant instructor position. He was only 21 at the time. This move was instrumental in his career as it introduced him to the world of teaching. His love of teaching prompted him to return to San Jose State University in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Kinesiology (the study of body movement). In 1980, degree in hand, Ploke went from part-time teacher at De Anza, to a full-time teaching position at Foothill College, where he remained for the next 30 years. “I loved it, and I stayed with the community college, I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Ploke said, adding, “The passion of teaching and exercise have always been with me.” Ploke retired from Foothill College in 2010. He and his wife of 30 years, Rose, moved to Gilroy to begin a new chapter in their lives. Six months after the move instead of basking in his freedom from a nine-to-five workday Ploke returned to teaching. On a walk through the campus of Gavilan College he met up with Susan Dodd, who at the time was head of the Kinesiology Department. In the space of their conversation Ploke went from newly retired to newly hired. Dodd offered Ploke a part-time teaching position in Gavilan’s Physical Fitness department, which he happily accepted. In addition to his teaching, Ploke has also been instrumental in imple- menting a personal training program. “I’d already done that at Foothill College,” Ploke said. “Basically I took my program and kind of fused it into theirs. So I now teach the classes in that program.” In 2012, Ploke noticed the opening GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN december 2018-january 2019 of a new business, Anytime Fitness, at the Nob Hill Shopping Center. His interest in the gym led to a meeting with the owners, Russ and Jaime Allen. After a conversation with them, Ploke was once again offered a job, this time as a personal trainer. “I never saw myself teaching at a gym because I’ve been an educator all my life,” Ploke said. Just like teaching, personal training was a perfect fit for Ploke. “What I like about it, [Anytime Fitness], is that the atmosphere there, it’s very non-threatening,” Ploke said, adding, “When people come in they feel comfortable.” To accommodate his client base of forty people, he teaches at the gym five days a week in addition to his part-time teaching at Gavilan. “At Gavilan it’s more of a group set- ting where I may be teaching anywhere from 20 to 30,” Ploke said, adding that each job is equally enjoyable. “At Anytime Fitness it’s one-on-one. It’s a little bit more personal, so I get to know my clients. They become more like extended members of my family.” All of Ploke’s clients agree, he has a winning style. Five years ago, Denise Giffin, 62, of Gilroy, reached out to Ploke for help. “I got invited to hike the Inca trail into Machu Picchu, and I said yes,” Giffin said. “And then I Googled that. It goes gmhtoday.com 31