May 10, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
The room is filled with energy and enthusiasm, much like you’d find at any local gym. Participants file in a few at a time until there are about 25 people ready to get sweaty.
But this isn’t Planet Fitness, rather a workout class for seniors taught by Miri Ely, a certified personal trainer, at the Camillus Senior Center. Ely also teaches one at the Jordan-Elbridge Community Center.
“We’re in for a treat,” Ely says to the room.
There’s laughter and a few comments from the crowd of retired members of the community.
“She’s great,” said participant Gladys Handzel. “She makes the class so much fun.”
That’s the goal for Ely, who is helping seniors stay fit for whatever reasons they choose to come to her class. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Ely spends an hour at the Camillus Senior Center, and does the same on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Jordan. All of the fitness hounds are retired, and each has his or her own reason for being in the class.
Take Joan Smith for example: She’s a retired social studies teacher who informed young minds at East Syracuse Minoa for many years. Her reasoning was one of evenness.
“I’m here to keep my balance,” she said. “You start to lose your balance as you get older.”
When asked how she feels after a good workout, she gave a laugh and responded: “Today will be fine, but tomorrow – tomorrow will be bad.”
Her partner for much of the workout was Judy Johnson, a retired secretary. Prior to the class, the pair were joking around and getting ready for what’s to come.
Johnson said a lot of her inspiration came from her 90-year-old father.
“Part of his success to this point in life has been because he keeps moving,” she said. “He walks everyday, and I think that’s the secret – keep moving.”
Skip Hayes, 85 and a retired tomb maker, lost his wife many years ago. He chooses the class for the camaraderie, among other reasons, and he was the only male in the class on May 3.
“I have diabetes and exercise is one of the best ways to control it,” he said. “I live alone, so I like a little company from time-to-time. This class is really helpful for us older people.”
Pat Smarzo worked in her husband’s office most of her career. She said her husband was a sales engineer, and she assisted with what he had to do.
At 88 years old, Smarzo, to the eye, looks much younger. Her success?
“I’m an exercise nut,” she said. “I’ve done it all my life. I used to walk all the time, used to go to the gym on Onondaga Hill, and I still do twice a week.”
She added that she uses the treadmill now rather than walk outside. Smarzo also had high praise for Ely.
“She keeps us laughing the whole time, but also keeps us moving,” she said. “That’s the most important [thing].”
Tricia Bacon, a senior advocate who helped get the class going, said that when she came on board at the Senior Center, her goal was to implement more activities of any kind. She explained that women outnumber men in the class because women tend to live longer.
She said the feedback from the community has been positive, especially from those who attend the class.
“People are excited to see more,” Bacon said.
If you are interested in checking out the class, please call the Camillus Senior Center at 672-5820 and ask for Tricia.
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.