Fitness Classes Help Seniors Regain Strength, Flexibility

Sandy Zarycki, personal trainer and group instructor, gets the fitness class students warmed up before weight training. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

JACKSON – The bongos set the beat – one, two, three, four – before Barry Manilow’s voice booms through the speakers, “Her name was Lola, she was a show girl…”

While they were not doing the meringue or the cha-cha, the women attending the Jackson Senior Center’s fitness class were walking in place, kicking one foot, then the other, gently forward to Manilow’s beat. They increased the intensity until they were doing laps between the main hall of the center.

“As people age, they tend to lose speed, agility and balance,” Sandy Zarycki said. She’s a personal trainer for land and aquatics, and is certified to teach group fitness. While the best place for anyone, especially for seniors, is to exercise in the water – “If you fall, you just get wet” – the next best thing for seniors is weight training on land.

The women attending the fitness classes at the Jackson Senior Center use weights and balls to help them increase their strength and range of motion. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

Since October, Zarycki has been providing strength training to the seniors at the center. The class is usually filled with women, although men are welcome. The goal is to increase range of motion and flexibility. The weights are no heavier than five pounds. Zarycki guides the students through arm and leg exercises that mimic the motions of what many younger people take for granted: reaching in the cupboard, getting off a chair.

One woman, who only wished to give her first name, said she’s seen a difference since taking the classes.

“I love this class,” Mary Ann said. “The class has helped me with my arms. My arms felt like dead weight before I started the class, and since I’ve been doing it, at least I have more energy now.”

Senior Center program administrator Sheri Silversmith said many seniors are using the classes to fulfill New Year’s resolutions to improve health.

She said on Mondays at 9 and 10 a.m., and Thursdays at 9 a.m., the center offers a senior fitness class that includes cardio, weights, bands and assorted exercises that can be modified for most fitness levels.

There is a “move easy fitness” class each Thursday at 10 a.m. that offers seated exercises geared toward stretching and balance and meant for a lower fitness level.

The center offers Zumba Gold each Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Zumba Gold is a higher paced cardio workout that can also be modified for most fitness levels. Silversmith said Atlantic Coast Rehab sponsors this class.

A senior aerobics class is held on Fridays at 10 a.m. that includes cardio, weights, bands and balls. Slow Flow Yoga follows at 11 a.m., which is chair and standing class – no floor exercises – meant for all fitness levels.

“It’s great that we provide so many fitness options for all different abilities. All of the classes are offered at no charge to the seniors,” Silversmith said.

The senior center is located at 45 Don Connor Blvd. The center is open to everyone age 50 and older. For more information about any of the center’s fitness programs, call 732-928-2313.