Want to join one of Senior Planet’s many online health and fitness offerings? Check the schedule here.
Poof! That’s how long it took for Senior Planet’s daily in-person exercise classes to disappear…and reappear in a new form. “Because the shutdown was sudden and unexpected, we quickly transitioned our in-person exercise classes to Zoom online sessions,” says Fiona Adams, Program Lead. The big question? Who’d show up? How many? As soon as classes went online in mid-March, the answer came: everybody! And from everywhere.
“We’ve had as many as 180 people join us for the Morning Stretch Zoom session,” notes Adams, recalling her early hope that 50 would log on. Even better, attendees log in from all over the U.S., whether there was a Senior Planet Center locally or not – Colorado, Washington, Maryland, New Mexico and elsewhere. “We even had someone join us from South Africa,” Adams says. (The schedule of online classes can be found here.)
“What’s it like to exercise at home following an instructor seen on a screen? “My computer is in a tiny office space. I didn’t think it possible to exercise meaningfully in such a small area,” says Senior Planet Member May Linton. According to Linton, instructor Castulo Castro (“Cas” as he’s called) delivered a first-rate set of stretch exercises. Space required? “Hardly any,” she says. “And I felt so good afterwards! I returned the next day.”
Linton’s experience is not surprising. Thanks to decades of yoga, Tai Chi, and martial arts experience, Cas knows how to create a range of exercises for all the different classes. Any particular challenge? “Teaching a class when I can’t see everyone at the same time,” he says.
Any Device Works
Hazel Gaines, a regular at Senior Planet’s New York City Center’s in-person classes, was visiting family in Atlanta when the shutdown occurred. She couldn’t return to New York. When the announcement about online classes landed in her e-box, Gaines enlisted her tech-savvy 10-year-old grandson Alex Arrington to set up her cell phone so that she could attend.
Gaines prefers her phone. “My grandson’s 27” monitor is just too darned big; seeing all the faces is distracting,” she says. Another cell advantage: “I can attend class anywhere in the house or outside.”
Whatever their device, more are using them to join Senior Planet’s online classes, says Adams. The exercise feels great, and so does the feeling of community. “People log on before class to chat and then stay after class to continue chatting,” Adams says. “We welcome newcomers, share tech tips, answer questions about the exercises, and just get to know each other.”
Advanced Fitness Goals
Senior Planet’s programming includes encouraging seniors with more advanced fitness goals. That’s why Senior Planet put out a call to selected seniors to become Sponsored Athletes. The program follows seniors like Carol Klenfer, 74, who became a ping-pong champion in her early 70s and Burr Daly, 81, whose partial knee replacement forced him to give up Senior Olympic sprinter and jumper training and competition to launch a new, knee-friendly fitness goal: speed walking. To inspire the rest of us, even if it’s just from our armchairs, Sponsored Athletes share their progress in following their personal fitness-related goals.
No matter what is happening “out there,” count on Senior Planet to find ways to offer programs suitable for seniors at every fitness level – even when they can’t leave their homes.