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Keeping up with everything

Cindy Ingram, who has a schedule that includes teaching karate and training horses, never seems to tire.

By STEVE LEE
Published July 9, 2006


SPRING HILL - A wife, mother and grandmother, Cindy Ingram is not unlike many middle-aged woman. But there is so much more.

The indefatigable 47-year-old has no comprehension of downtime. She also is a karate instructor, ranch owner, horse trainer and marathon runner.

Oh, and she always finds time to babysit two grandsons she dotes over.

Hectic scheduling and a lack of sleep notwithstanding, Ingram is not a slacker when it comes to daily chores. One in particular is never blown off - laundry, usually two loads each morning.

"We including husband John and daughter Sheri, her workout partners drip and sweat, and come back to put another outfit on," said Ingram, who often changes clothes five times a day. "I keep on top of it good. I have issues with laundry laying around."

Slapped in the face with disheartening news recently, Ingram did not miss a load - or a run or workout, for that matter.

The family's dojo, Ingram's Pro Karate Center in a New Port Richey strip center, was damaged from a weekend fire that started in a neighboring beauty salon. And Thursday, a quarter horse her husband competed with in cutting (separating cows from a herd) had to be euthanized.

"He was a great horse, and it hurt really bad," Ingram said. "We just kind of go about life and get a little depressed, but I think keeping busy helps. We don't have a lot of time to feel sorry for ourselves. We're going to be fine."

THE RANCH

The Ingrams purchased five acres with a 1,700-square-foot log cabin off Shady Hills Road near the Pasco-Hernando county line for $93,000 in 1995. The family bought an adjoining five acres in for $32,500 n 1997.

There were 10 horses on the property until Thursday, when Nitro was euthanized after a case of colic induced by July Fourth fireworks. John, who won several trophies and more than $1,000 on Nitro, took the news especially hard and spoke of the 25-year-old horse as "an incredible athlete."

Ingram competes in cutting competitions as well, winning a couple hundred dollars in her first season. That sport represents a second career for a couple married 30 years.

"To me, it's a lot like karate, because it's a never-ending road," said John, an eighth-degree black belt. "It's something you can always get better at."

Ashley, the couple's 24-year-old daughter, badgered her parents to buy a horse for years, and they finally relented.

"All her life, (Ashley) begged us to buy a horse," Ingram said. "John (who spent time on a farm with relatives as a young boy) didn't like them. But we bought two, then three, and from there it was just a blur."

Eventually, everyone in the family began to ride, which led to the ranch purchase. Soon after, Sheri and her husband, Rich Angwin, moved onto the property in a manufactured home.

Next week, there will be one less Ingram at the ranch. Ashley, who helped put down Nitro, is moving to Cocoa Beach on July 17 for a job as a horse anesthetist. But Sheri and her husband, along with their sons Trey, 3, and Ashton, 2, will remain at the ranch. They are building a home on two adjoining acres.

"To me, it's the way it's supposed to be," Sheri said of the family's living so close. "We're like a team. My mom and dad are my best friends, and my sister is my other best friend."

KARATE KIDS

A 1975 Dunedin graduate, Ingram's husband took up karate at 15 because he relished the individuality and discipline it offered. Soon after they began dating, he prodded Ingram to follow suit. But the 1977 Tarpon Springs graduate played clarinet in the school band and preferred music to physical activity.

"I don't know how all this happened," said Ingram, a seventh-degree black belt. "I looked at those people in those stupid uniforms doing pushups, and I'm like, 'What?' I don't do pushups. Then, I got yelled at for talking."

Ingram became pregnant with Sheri and missed nearly a year of training, but she returned mostly to get back into shape. She stuck with it, and getting beat up in competitions eventually changed to winning championships.

"I just started liking it," said Ingram, who has won the U.S. Open in Orlando and Diamond Nationals in Minnesota. "I found out I was competitive and I said, "This is for me.' "

Ingram and her husband moved up through the ranks, both becoming instructors at the New Port Richey Recreation Center. The couple, along with fellow karate instructor Oscar Wheeler, united in a business venture that included dojos in New Port Richey and Palm Harbor. Wheeler purchased the Palm Harbor facility in 1997 for about $100,000, and Ingram's husband turned to kickboxing.

John, who no longer kickboxes competitively, teaches karate at the Holiday Recreation Complex. Ingram, Sheri and Ingram's former student Jennifer Davenport run the New Port Richey dojo.

"Things kind of pick us, we don't pick them," said John, a two-time state champion kickboxer. "We do things with a passion, and in the long run, it just paid off."

As for cutting, John feels his wife has a bright future.

"I'm proud of her because she's so determined," he said of his wife. " I think she'll end up being a world-class cutter. She'll probably pass me up."

"I'm learning, and I'm just starting to get it," Ingram said.

Who knows what lies ahead for the Ingrams. If another activity beckons, rest assured they'll share in it.

"We're best friends," John said. "Whatever I do, she gets into. She's wonderful about that. That's one of the reasons we have such a good marriage. We do everything together."

Added Ingram, "If we don't do it together, we don't do it."

Contact Steve Lee at lee@sptimes.com.

[Last modified July 8, 2006, 22:41:34]


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