Seniors start the year off right

Published 9:53 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

As the new year dawns, many local fitness centers have classes for people to reach their fitness goals.

Eight local seniors kicked off the new year right by attending a chair exercise class for 55 minutes Tuesday morning at the Vicksburg Senior Center, 801 South St.

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The class held at 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday, starts with a 30-minute warmup of low impact stretching and finishes strong with 20 minutes of more strenuous movement before a final 5-minute cool-down stretch, director Jennifer Harper said.

“The second half is a little bit more intense. It’s an escalated version of the warm-up,” she said.

The video-led workout takes no other equipment than the chair. Sometimes the movement is sitting, and other times the class stands and uses the chair for stability during the workout.

“It’s not staying in the chair, but like on leg lifts, you primarily keep the chair there for balance,” Harper said.

The workout impacts the full body with most movement coming from the limbs while still using a strong core for support. Many of the standing leg movements also target the hip flexors just as the arm movements stretch the shoulders as well.

Carrie Jackson said she attends class almost every day. Harper said Jackson has been coming for a couple years even after suffering two strokes.

“It helps my limbs. I have trouble with my back and my hip. It helps me,” Jackson said. “I feel better when I leave.”

Harper said some people think there isn’t much to gain from exercising on a chair, but she said it is a credible workout. Orthopedic doctors have sent patients, some with knee or hip replacements, to take the exercise class at the center after they have completed physical therapy, and Harper said they find it challenging.

“Some of those people have said ‘Wow, my physical therapy wasn’t this intense,’” she said.

Harper said having the class gives the seniors some motivation to get out, see people and stay active. She said having a group to workout with makes it simpler than working out alone at home, and the group keeps each other accountable for attending.

“It keeps them active. Mainly keeping them flexible. It gets them out of the house,” Harper said. “Believe me if you miss a day or two some of them will say, ‘Where were you yesterday?’”

Jerlean McGee has been attending the class for about five years and has had a hip replacement during that time. She continues to come back because the doctor told her she needs to exercise.

“She tells me to get out. It feels good after I get through exercising. I come four times a week,” she said, adding she likes meeting people and making friends at the class. “I enjoy it.”

This month the center will forgo chair exercises on two Thursdays, Jan. 12 and Jan. 26, for Zumba, a dance fitness class.