Hospital, YMCA program highlights the fun in fitness

August 18, 1999|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A new partnership between Carroll County General Hospital and local fitness facilities may have more seniors discovering that fitness can be fun.

Beginning Aug. 30, seniors can take two exercise classes and enjoy pool time at the YMCA whether they are members or not.

Many senior citizens and active older adults have already discovered that it's easier to get into shape while dancing to Lawrence Welk's "Bubbles in the Wine," or doing the cha-cha.

FOR THE RECORD - An article on yesterday's senior page about exercise classes at Carroll County Family YMCA included an incorrect phone number. The correct number is 410- 848-3660. The Sun regrets the error.

Forget the "no pain, no gain" theory. With classes that cater to their individual goals and limitations, participants say they can focus on having fun.

Some class members do the arm exercises while sitting in a chair. Others have the simple goal of lifting a leg just a little higher while doing the Charleston.

There are expert Electric Slide dancers, and participants who hope to learn the line dance well enough to show off at the next wedding reception.

"I'm so relaxed in the classes, I'm learning all kinds of new steps," Westminster resident Dave Bassler said.

Two half-hour classes -- "Body Toning for Seniors" and "We Got It Movin'," a low-impact exercise class -- have been offered to YMCA members since January. Now these sessions, as well as "Twinges in the Hinges" (one hour of pool time) will be offered to non-members in a series of eight-week sessions, which begin Aug. 30.

The hospital's partnership opens the YMCA facilities to seniors for a minimal fee.

"We don't have the appropriate exercise facility, but we know exercise is an important part of wellness. So we started this pilot program with the YMCA, and we'll see if there is a strong response," said Teresa Fletcher, marketing manager for the hospital.

Carroll County General Hospital has a similar partnership with East End Athletic Club in Westminster, where additional classes are scheduled to begin in September. Instructor Donna Feist has created special "Body Basics" and "Water Fitness" sessions for seniors that include cardiovascular, muscle and flexibility conditioning.

"These classes are not at all competitive because I show optional movements," said Feist. "Everything flows very smoothly, even though there are people with different abilities. In just six weeks, participants noticed increased muscle mass, bone density and joint stability."

Finksburg resident Lee Schaffer said, "People said it would take one month to get into the swing of being retired. But I retired in December, started a water aerobics class in January, and eventually exercise became a good habit. It made retirement happen very nicely."

Schaffer and many other participants credit instructor Joyce Ohler, who creates classes and social times.

They say Ohler is a counselor and a friend who enjoys bringing people together. After her "We Got It Movin' " class there are light snacks and board games -- Skipbo, Yahtzee and Scrabble.

"I'm gaining lots of new friends. Even outside of classes, we all get together for bike rides or hikes," said Bassler. "We've taken bikes to Gettysburg [and along] the C&O Canal. About 18 of us went to ride with Joyce in Gettysburg. I took my daughter and my 8-month-old granddaughter along."

"Joyce sits around and plays cards," said YMCA fitness director Kathy Hill. "There's always a lot of hooting and hollering after classes. These classes offer a good social time for seniors who need exercise and who want to have fun."

Westminster resident Eleanor Rowe, who attends the class five days a week, said, "We have a good time because Joyce is so jolly and she makes everything interesting. There is no criticism, just encouragement to keep moving."

As long as seniors, and other participants keep moving, Ohler said, "they'll improve the quality and quantity of life. They can be active with their grandchildren as they become more flexible and stronger."

Information: 410-848-2244 or 410-848-3360.

Pub Date: 8/18/99

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