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Judy Herman cheerfully greets a group of seniors, beginning her hour-long session of BRAIN-tertainment! in which she combines practical memory improvement tips and healthy lifestyle suggestions with a variety of puzzles and word games.
Herman is a motivational speaker and teacher known as the BRAIN-tertainer.” She’s a “Jeopardy!” champion who now creates puzzles and word games designed to stimulate different areas of the brain. She uses these learning tools in her Broward and Palm Beach County classes, entertaining and educating seniors in residential communities and active adults in clubs and organizations.
She has enjoyed enthusiastic participation and response from thousands of students since beginning “All Aboard the Brain Train” programs in 2005, inspired by helping her own mother combat cognitive decline. Now Herman encourages everyone to exercise their minds to maintain their ability to understand and communicate.
Born in Detroit, Herman grew up in Westchester County, New York where she attended New Rochelle High School. She remains friendly with many classmates, some of whom live in South Florida. After she earned a bachelor’s in English at the University of Wisconsin, Herman lived in suburban Chicago and London, England, for 14 years extensively traveling the world from there. For 20 years, she lived by the ocean in Highland Beach and now resides by a golf course in Delray Beach.
“Today, I work to achieve my full potential by always learning, participating in online workshops, challenges, and information courses,” Herman said. “I listen to podcasts for business, self-improvement and brain-related subjects and participate in virtual networking events. I admire and appreciate people who are intelligent, have integrity, positivity, a sense of humor and who are enthusiastic, generous of self and wealth.”
It’s not surprising that she loves doing word puzzles of all kinds, including playing “Words with Friends” online. She is an avid fan of TV quiz shows, especially having been a contestant on “Jeopardy!” in the mid-1970s before Alex Trebek’s time as host. As a champion, she won a total of $1,950 and a set of Grolier Encyclopedias.
“It was an exciting, challenging but fun experience, and even though I lost my second round the next day, I gained a great deal of confidence being on national television that has served me ever since,” Herman said.
To relax, she enjoys watching home decorating shows and British mysteries. She reads primarily nonfiction such as research into brain health, physical wellness and self-improvement. Currently on her nightstand are “Remember” by Lisa Genova, and “Believe It” by Jamie Kern Lima. Physical exercise comes from walking, Yochilates (combining yoga, tai chi and Pilates) classes and playing golf.
She loves socializing with friends and family on FaceTime and Zoom, and for mid-week happy hour meet-ups. She also makes videos for her YouTube channel.
Mostly, Herman likes creating material for her classes and presentations, a nod to the “Jeopardy!” experience. Once she determines a theme for each month relevant to an aspect of cognitive fitness and healthy aging, she sets about creating and finding verbal, spatial, logic, and attention puzzles that are challenging yet achievable. She explains directions and gives solving strategies because she said she believes more important than getting the answer is learning the concept behind the activity.
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Throughout the year in South Florida, Herman conducts in-person and virtual ongoing community classes, presents keynote programs for organizations and clubs, and works with individual clients and groups. The sessions are all audience participation, adaptable to different ability levels, and everyone is encouraged to join in.
“Judy is a wonderful, warm, kind-hearted person,” said Teresa Zorn, director of community life at Abbey Delray South in Delray Beach. “She does everything with good intention. I can rely on Judy for anything. She is trustworthy and well-liked, teaching classes for me for over 10 years. Our residents love her. She is an important asset to our community.”
“She is a great teacher, presenting techniques to aid us to remember,” said Roz Jacobs, Embark Independent Senior Living Facility resident in Lake Worth. “With practice, we learn how to improve our memory.”
Following her recent divorce, Herman said she is thriving as an independent woman, happily living on her own and creating the best rest of her life.
“These days I am motivated to make this stage personally fulfilling and secure,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to serve my senior and active adult students, creating programs that increase their cognitive confidence, and at age 75, I hope to keep inspiring them by example.”