Senior set getting pumped up

AT PLAY

Ellicott City weight-training class helps seniors have fun while getting in shape

October 19, 2005|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Rita Charlton is a jokester who loves to laugh and play the clown. But there's one thing that the Elkridge resident is serious about - staying in shape.

Charlton, 59, a retired federal employee, has done that by going to the Roger Carter Recreation Center in Ellicott City, where she attends the Circuit Weight Training for Seniors class on a regular basis.

Lynn Glaeser, the class instructor, isn't trying to get class members ready to run marathons. She simply wants those who attend to be able to live their lives in a better way and stay healthy while doing it.

Glaeser uses stretching, and work with weight machines and free weights to help members of the group achieve their goals. Sessions take place in the basement of the Roger Carter Recreation Center, in a strength/exercise room.

The class seems a bit chaotic, with Glaeser moving exercisers from station to station every few minutes while urging them on, but everyone knows exactly what they're doing.

Social hour

Charlton has attended the classes for four years, working on a number of things, including balance and strength. She is thrilled with the progress she has made and keeps coming back for more.

"I love it - it keeps me going," Charlton said. "It's a good social hour because I don't want to do this on my own."

Members of the class often become friends and are always encouraging each other and poking fun at themselves during the workouts, which go on for 60 to 75 minutes. They love to laugh together while working themselves into shape.

Linda Yaffe has taken part in the classes for about four years. The 64-year-old Ellicott City resident also bowls in a seniors league in Howard County, but she said she comes to the class twice a week.

"The group usually knows each other, and it's a place [to relax]," Yaffe said. "I used to have a personal trainer who was very expensive, but I get just as much attention here, and I enjoy it."

Times are changing

Most in the class credit Glaeser for helping guide them. Glaeser teaches several similar classes at the Carter Recreation Center and other places in the county, and she loves working with this group.

She said times have changed, and the country's recent push toward getting everyone into shape - regardless of age - has gotten more senior citizen into the workout rooms.

"You're getting the senior population out and working out, and you didn't see that before," Glaeser said. "[Teaching the class] means you're doing well for other people, and you're helping them live more productive lives."

The classes keep participants moving. The group members start workouts by doing some stretching/dancing exercises to get loose. This week, they listened to Louis Armstrong's "Mame" to help get them going.

The music played on as exercisers moved to weight machines and free weights. Each person in the class works on every one of the 10 weight machines, from treadmills to Stairmasters, for a short period of time. They generally spend between 90 seconds and three minutes per machine, depending on what Glaeser wants each person to accomplish for that class.

Group members can also work with free weights and use some large balls for different kinds of stretching. Glaeser is always watching and does a good job moving around the room to keep an eye on each person - not always an easy task with at least 20 people working out at any given time.

John Amer, 79, said that Glaeser's teaching is a big reason why he keeps coming back.

This is also his fourth year in the class, and he clearly enjoys what he is doing there.

"She's an excellent [teacher]," Amer said. "She's the main reason I [do it]. Her enthusiasm is great. She urges you on and gives you confidence."

It is easy to see that Glaeser gets a lot of joy out of working with the class. She laughs and jokes with them and takes pride in watching the successes they have while working out.

Positive environment

The positive atmosphere is one thing Columbia resident Theo Karczewski enjoys. She attends twice a week, working her way back into shape after an illness, and spends a lot of time laughing - while getting stronger.

"It's so much fun," said Karczewski, 59, a Baltimore City school teacher. "There's friendships [here]. Everybody pulls for everybody."

Glaeser said the class is not about getting her attendees in shape to play a professional sport, but simply to help them partake in their daily activities in a positive way. She wants to help enable each member of her class to have a good quality of life.

"It really energizes them [to] know they can go to a museum and not have to sit down and rest while they walk through, or being able to take care of their grand-kids," Glaeser said. "I know it makes a difference."

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