YMCA gets older adults moving

Published 9:00 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Older gym members in Suffolk and South Hampton Roads were celebrated at their favorite workout destinations on Wednesday.

The Suffolk Family YMCA held its Active Older Adults Day for both members and non-members of the public ages 55 and older on Wednesday. Residents enjoyed exercise classes, received health screenings and learned more about healthy lifestyle choices from YMCA staff and local vendors.

The event is held every May at YMCAs throughout South Hampton Roads in recognition of May’s Older Americans Month status, with members and guests at least 55 years old.

Email newsletter signup

“We use it as an opportunity to educate our adult members not just on our programs, but on how to live a more healthy and active life as you get older,” said Robbie Laughton, senior membership director at the Suffolk Family YMCA.

Physical therapist Rodrienne Smith of the Sentara therapy center was available with information on functional movement screenings for core stability and flexibility.

Smith said she was impressed by the fitness of the older members when she first began treating them three years ago.

“They actually fit into a higher functioning level of the geriatric population,” she said.

There are more than 80 regular members 55 and up at the Suffolk Family YMCA that maintain active lifestyles, including those that worked up a sweat on Wednesday.

“I got a great workout with the line dancing,” said member Linda Fletcher.

Instructor Edrina Toxey led the members in line dance routines with music and enthusiasm.

“It doesn’t feel like exercise, it feels like fun,” Toxey said. “It’s a sneaky way to get them to exercise.”

Esther Perry has been a regular at the gym since 2013. She has lost more than 30 pounds since she started coming to the gym five or six days weekly for cardio, line dancing and water exercises.

“I’ve lost a lot of inches working out in the water,” Perry said.

She said she was glad to see new faces at AOA Day after attending the event for several years.

“It’s good to know that people are really interested in what’s going on with their bodies,” she said.

The risk of chronic diseases and disabilities for older adults is reduced through healthy dieting and consistent exercise.

“I can run through the list of everything from diabetes, circulatory and cardiovascular issues, all being thwarted by regular exercise,” said Denise Brown, director of resident service at Lake Prince Woods retirement community and one of the vendors.

These members are a community at the gym that’s determined to take care of their personal health and to live more active lives as they get older.

“I have the ability to go home and do things that need doing, whether it’s moving mulch or cleaning the gutters,” said member Linda Banyay.

The benefits of their workouts are numerous.

“It makes all the difference in the world when you exercise,” Fletcher said.