Yvonne Greer has led dual careers in fitness and communications for more than 20 years. Not only is she the daily host/producer of WMBD-TV’s Living Well and the weekly host/producer of WTVP’s Consider This, she is a multi-certified fitness consultant, professional speaker and president of Power Zone, Inc.
Yvonne holds a journalism degree from the University of Illinois. Her past media experience includes reporting, anchoring and producing for WMBD-TV and WMBD Radio in Peoria; co-hosting shows on Chicago radio stations with her husband and fellow broadcaster, Greg Batton; and freelance writing for a range of magazines. At home, she is a proud wife, the proud mom of Ginger and Justice, and proud stepmom to Katie and David. In her spare time, you’ll often catch her singing, cooking or reading.
- What would you say to your 20-year-old self? Find more ways to enjoy the climb. I spent a lot of time being jealous (and sometimes spiteful) of others whose parents were paying for their college experience. I was fearful that I was “behind” on the road to success, so I was consumed with thoughts about making all the “right” decisions, and very fearful of making the wrong ones. I missed opportunities to celebrate some really great people and experiences. As it turns out, you can have more than one career path be “right.”
- What are your quirky habits? I give thanks for EVERYTHING… family, friends, clients, experiences, meals, parking spots, green lights, comfy shoes, great books/movies/music, sunshine, smiles, etc. The seemingly bad stuff can be cause for gratitude, too. An illness may give me time to rest, an unexpected bill might provide prosperity to others, a cancelled event could help me catch a movie with my family. I even give thanks in advance for things/experiences I hope to have in the future!
- What was your first job? I was 15 years old when my mother told me we were struggling financially, and that I would need to get a job. I put on the only suit I had and answered a school bulletin ad for a telemarketer at State Farm Insurance. I got the job, and within months, I became a customer service representative. The agents helped me develop a professional work ethic and cared for me personally, too. They are still among my insurance providers today.
- Favorite vacation spot: Jamaica. We used to take our family vacation to different locales each year, but we’ve been back to Jamaica for the past four years. The laidback vibe, reggae music, can’t-get-enough jerk chicken, beautiful beaches and the people who welcome us “home” at every turn will surely call me back again.
- Which of the five senses do you treasure most? Hearing—I think it may be how I best process information. While I certainly appreciate things that look, smell, taste or feel good, if they sound good, they stick with me long-term. I say things out loud when I really need to remember them. I can sing the lyrics of songs I learned when I was five. I can take a fitness class and not look at the instructor if their cues are good. The sound of my children’s voices can warm my heart in an instant, and yes, the sound of Greg’s voice still sends me like nothing else can.
- What do you do when you want to relax? Relaxing is a challenge for me. Outside of full-on sleeping (which I do really well), I feel compelled to be productive… all the time. On one hand, I like being hungry for knowledge and experience. It has served me well professionally. On the other hand, I recognize the value of idle time for formulating ideas, enjoying someone or something meaningful, and simply giving my body a needed rest. I can relax my mind when I’m singing, dancing, cooking and exercising, because they come to me naturally. I can relax my body with a good movie, a massage or a great conversation. But full relaxation for me is rare unless I’m on vacation away from home. Even then I take the first two hours a day for reading and exercise, and then I let my family and the ocean breeze take me away.
- What’s one thing you’d rather pay somebody to do than do yourself? Paperwork in all its forms is drudgery to me. Filing, scheduling, bookkeeping, accounting, tax prep… if I’m going to procrastinate, these things are the likely culprits. My personal training business is still at a size manageable for me to do most of it, but come tax time, I always hire a real accountant to nudge me onward and make sure the business part of my business is on point.
- What song always makes you happy when you hear it? There are so many, it’s hard to narrow the list to one. Generally, I’m a fan of songs with lyrics that inspire me onward. If I can dance to them, even better! Gloria Estefan’s “I Just Want to be Happy” always works, and on the slow side, “There’s Hope” by India Arie keeps life in perspective.
- What’s your favorite aspect of central Illinois? Without a doubt, the generous spirit of the people who live here. Certainly, this can be witnessed in all of the well-attended/sponsored/volunteered fundraisers for our various helping organizations. There is also a quiet spirit of giving that occurs “under the radar”… morning commuters who buy the guy behind them a cup of coffee, neighbors who shovel each other out of the snow, making casseroles for the family with no time to cook, benefactors who pay off a big bill so a small store can stay open, throngs that attend funeral services so the bereaved know they are loved. I have never expressed a desire to help another person or organization without someone else offering to help, too. It’s like the community collectively decides “We’ve got this, and we’ve got you.” And in times of need, that proves very true.
- The person who’s had the greatest impact on my life: I believe every encounter with another person is an opportunity to create a positive impact on their lives. I am humbled by the incredible number of people who have done that for me over the years, and many are still at it. The greatest impact on my life has come from Greg. His very first gift to me was a copy of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go. He’s been helping me get where I want to go since the day I met him. (He was literally driving me and another co-worker to an Illinois Broadcasters Association event in Springfield.)
When I wanted to become a fitness instructor, he helped me buy a franchise. Conversations with him on the radio improved my speaking skills so much that live television and public presentations now feel as comfortable to me as talking to him. When I thought my workaholic self would never have kids, he showed me the joys of parenting, and that made me want to share in it. When I wanted to sing, he booked the venue and the accompanist. When I worked for years with little to no pay, he continued to chat cheerfully on the radio while he struggled to support our family. When he read an interview with me saying I wanted to go to the Grammys, he took me there for my 50th birthday. People tell me often, “Wow, that man really loves you!” And I reply, “Yes, I know. I love him too. He is the greatest gift of my life.” PM