Friends at local gym say missing teacher always smiled: ‘She just lit up a room’

Posted at 5:30 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 17:31:38-04

PORTAGE, Mich. — Theresa Lockhart always had a smile on her face. It’s what people at Family Fitness remember most about her. She took Zumba classes there and even taught it too. It was rare, they said, to not see that smile.

“She just lit up a room,” said fellow instructor and friend Hilary Leaf.  “When she danced, she danced her heart out and I just appreciate people that come into class and let it all go. And she did that every single time.”

In the five years they’d known each other, Leaf said she never suspected anything going on at home. Lockhart often subbed for her in the summer so she could spend time with her children. However, she  only knew Lockhart from their time together at the gym.

“She is spunky and she’s fun to be around,” said Leaf. “I never once thought to myself ‘I wonder what’s going on with her' ‘cause she, like I said before, she always wore a smile.”

Her personal trainer Ryan Barnes said the same thing: Lockhart always smiled. He trained her for two years one-on-one but noticed over time her smile went sour.

“She was trying to fix some things internally,” said Barnes who respectfully kept their conversations private. “She was going through some things and she was coming here to not only change herself physically [but] mentally, emotionally.”

They’d often chat about life, he said. He remembered spending a lot of their training sessions boosting her spirits with a pep talk.

“It was kind of hard to keep her focused sometimes,” said Barnes. “She’d want to vent a little bit more than workout and for me that’s ok.”

According to the Portage police department, Lockhart disappeared on May 18th when she returned home from Family Fitness. They say her husband was the last to see her and they've since named him a ‘person of interest.’ Mr. Lockhart said in a previous conversation with Fox 17 that that's “there's nothing" to that.

“I was flabbergasted,” said Barnes remembering when he first heard that Lockhart disappeared.  “You feel that drop in your stomach. You know, you feel that worry. Man it’s hitting so close to home.”

Barnes recalled seeing her on the day she vanished. She was working out at the gym but he didn’t get the chance to say “hi.” Now, he like Leaf and others at Family Fitness, are hoping she returns to them soon, ready to dance and smile.

“I know her heart and what kind of person she is and 1 and 1 did not add up to 2,” said Leaf. “I'm not going to stand here and accuse anyone of anything because that’s not my position and I'm not to judge. But I can tell you it just does not add up.”