STAYING Active as You Age

Sittercise

By Elaine S. Williams

“I Got This!”

Here at South Fork Community Center in Winston-Salem, we love to hear these words! It’s the updated version of the The Little Engine That Could: “I think I can, I think I can….”

We see it daily on the faces of the actively maturing seniors who participate in the various exercise classes offered at South Fork Community Center. Sometimes it’s through the victorious fist pump, sometimes through a happy smile, and sometimes simply through the inward focus of concentration.

Fitness is not necessarily defined by bulging muscles, lean bodies, unattainable BMI (Body Mass Index)—but rather, for seniors, it can be defined by steadily increasing capability and overcoming the fear of inability. Simple things such as turning a door knob, opening a bottle of water, or stepping up a single step, can be frustrating and begin to narrow a senior’s ability to fully engage in life.

Fitness begins with stating, “I am not an invalid; I may do things a bit differently than the average person. But who wants to be average?”

Exercises such as those taught by Kim Young in the South Fork Sittercise program help participants increase flexibility, build strength, improve stamina, and practice balance—and with Kim, participants increase lung capacity as she keeps the group laughing at the most recent exploits of grandchildren and pets as they exercise. Also in this group setting, seniors encourage each other and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.

It is rewarding to staff to hear the various testimonials from the Sittercise participants:

“The physical therapist told me he’d done all he could for me about my arm. He left me at this point (shows arm raised at a 30-degree angle to her body), but look where I am now since I’ve been coming to Sittercise (proudly holds arm out at a 45 degree angle)!

“The doctor said I’d never leave the house again. To myself, I said, ‘I’ll show him!’ So me and my little oxygen tank come two days a week faithfully!”

And most recently: “I got tickled at my physical therapist last week as he checked me out to release me from the hospital. He said to try to raise my leg. I did—no problem. He told me to hold out my arm. I did—no problem. He said to stand on one foot and try to balance myself as he put out a hand to steady me if needed. Not needed at all! The therapist said, ‘Man, you are already way beyond what you need to be for me to release you! What are you doing?’ I very proudly told him I go to Sittercise at South Fork Community Center twice a week!”

Sittercise classes are free. Classes are held twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10 a.m. Our more advanced physical activity classes include strength training, low impact aerobics, aerobic dance mix, shag, line dance, clogging, ballroom dance, and belly dance. These classes do have participation fees and various start dates.

Remember: Exercise, at whatever level, helps you keep control of your life physically, mentally, and emotionally. We hope you’ll come join us for one or more classes and please be sure to share these opportunities with a friend!

South Fork Community Center is part of the City of Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department and is located at 4403 Country Club Rd. Call 336-659-4305 or go online to WePlay.WS for more information.

Elaine Williams is an employee with the City of Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department working primarily at South Fork Community Center in South Fork Park. She enjoys leading seniors in the Sittercise program and working with seniors in promoting their own personal creativity.  Also an artist, Elaine has served with both Senior Games/SilverArts and Second Spring Arts Festival committees.

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