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Manlius: Strength in seniors

Seniors are coming together twice a week at the Manlius Senior Centre for a morning class that specializes in strength and balance. People 55 and older are encouraged to join the group and reap the benefits of these basic yet restorative movements that are being offered.

The volunteer-driven class was first designed by Dr. Todd Manini. Four years ago, Executive Director Marlene Macfarlane hired Manini through grant money to lead an adult exercise class. At the time, Manini was a phD candidate from Syracuse University and is now a doctor who works for the National Institute on Aging.

After a few months, he was able to turn the class over to volunteer and class participant Donna Lipton, who still heads the Tuesday morning class at 11 a.m. The class gradually grew and another was installed for Thursdays, first with local celebrity Jack Morse leading the way, and now volunteer Charlie Barnett.

The class has found strength in numbers. It sustains an average of 40 to 60 people each week.

"Not necessarily the same people all the time," said Cira Barnett, Charlie's wife and class attendee. "Some can only come one time a week, others can come two times a week."

Cira (pronounced Seeda) has been exercising since the class' inception. "I can really tell when I don't exercise. You miss just one or two classes and you can tell you're getting stiff."

All exercises are either done standing or sitting in a chair -- none are done on the floor. Weights and bands are provided and range from one to six pounds. The chair may also be used for balance or support.

When Cira started, she had a lower back problem and severe tendonitis. She couldn't open a can or hold a glass of water.

"I used to use those plastic cups for drinking my water. A glass itself is heavy, Cira said. "Now because of this exercise class, my wrists have become stronger and I can lift a gallon now."

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