Estelle Getty leads a workout for seniors

December 31, 1993|By Jane Glenn Haas | Jane Glenn Haas,Orange County Register

She'll accept 69.

"If that's what you want to make my age, do it," Estelle Getty says.

Whatever the real age of the actress who played the wisecracking Italian widow Sophia on "The Golden Girls," Jane Fonda she is not.

But she breathes. And she moves.

"That's what people have to understand they need to do," says Ms. Getty, who has become a senior fitness advocate.

Ms. Getty and fitness expert Raphael Picaud, 30, have released an hour-long exercise video for people 55 and older.

It covers exercises for people in wheelchairs as well as movements for more active people.

The most esoteric equipment is two 16-ounce cans of lima beans, used as weights.

With comments by a medical doctor and with four of Ms. Getty's friends doing exercises, "Young at Heart" (Video Treasures, $19.97) takes seniors through a gentle workout.

The goal: to boost overall health and improve muscle strength, bone density, flexibility and balance, Mr. Picaud says.

"We have to make people under stand that they need to do something physical," he says.

"The problem that seniors have when they go to exercise is that no one in the gyms is trained to respond to their needs. They don't work as fast. They don't need things as fast. They need fitness trainers who are more patient and caring.

"Gyms are big, threatening places where the music is loud."

Mr. Picaud is designing a gym for seniors in Los Angeles. But the video is a good option for people, at least to get started, he says.

Seniors who want to try gyms should insist on personal training for two or three sessions until they are well acquainted with the machinery, he says.

Ms. Getty says she believes everyone has the ability to do something, "no matter what your exercise limitations."

"You know, we aren't talking about doing the impossible," Ms. Getty says.

"Every one of us is in the same boat with fears about getting old, being alone, getting sick.

"Keeping fit, breathing and moving -- that's the way to keep alive."

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