YOUNG AT HEART: Indoor opportunities abound for staying fit during winter months

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 11:26 am on Monday, October 01, 2012


When temperatures dip, it’s only natural that seniors who take most of their exercise out of doors during the summer months begin seeking indoor alternative venues. Fortunately, many options exist in the Montcalm County area.

Most area fitness clubs offer classes either geared specifically toward seniors or classes with several different impact levels most seniors can easily take part in.

According to Dave Harris, manager of The Club Fitness Center in Greenville, many seniors these days require no “special treatment.”

“A lot of our classes are for all different ages,” Harris said. “But we’re finding that no matter what level we offer classes at, there are seniors who take part. It’s amazing the kinds of things they can do.”

Modern seniors are in far better shape, overall, than were their counterparts of a generation earlier. No longer willing to be relegated to the rocking chair, the active lifestyle of today’s senior is likely to be every bit as physically trying as that of any 30-year-old.

“The yoga classes and strength training are really popular with our seniors right now,” Harris said. “Seniors, these days, are much more active and get around a lot better. I have one gentleman in his 70s who does road races and lifts weights.”

Many area gyms also offer rehabilitation services for those recovering from injury or surgery.

Fitness centers are only one option, however; many free or inexpensive alternatives also exist.

St. Mary’s Church, at 404 N. Division St. in Carson City, provides a year-round venue for seniors — and anyone else — who needs some indoor walking space. According to parish secretary Pat Reeder, the church offers the use of the former school’s gymnasium for walkers.

“There’s also an instructor who comes in and does Zumba classes on Monday and Wednesday,” Reeder said. “We’ve got a pretty active group there.”
The classes began as a fundraiser for a food pantry at the church, then continued on after parishioner Nora Ryan became certified to teach Zumba and kept the classes going. Money raised through teaching the classes continues to go toward the food bank.

“The walkers can use the old gymnasium every Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” Reeder said. “More do so in the winter, but it never really gets crowded. A lot of seniors do come in the winter, though. It’s available.”

Another exercise venue option includes area schools, such as Ellis Elementary, 100 W. Ellis Ave. in Belding. Ellis recently received a new gymnasium as part of a school bond issue and it will be opening to the public — during certain hours — by the end of October.

According to Belding High School Assistant Principal Leslie Mount, the new track will be available free of charge.

“Folks who want to use it can just fill out a form for background checks, then check in at the office anytime they want to exercise there,” Mount said. “We’ve heard that people want to use it and that they’re excited by this.”

Many other schools, churches and fitness centers around the area also offer facilities free or at greatly reduced rates for senior looking to get some exercise during the winter months. So there’s no excuse to let yourself go waiting for the snow to melt next spring.

Young at Heart features active community members (50 and older), programs and events. The next Young at Heart will be published in November.

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