Whether a senior likes his or her exercise slow and steady or fast-paced and fun, Blair Senior Services has classes to fit their needs.
Jennifer Park, APPRISE coordinator for Blair Senior Services, leads classes from YogaFit for seniors and Zumba Gold at the Central Blair and Northern Blair centers that began earlier this year.
Park and Angel Dandrea, community services program supervisor for Blair Senior Services, were looking for new activities to offer at the center. A dancer at heart, Park wanted to offer fun ways for older residents to keep moving. They decided on the YogaFit and Zumba Gold dance fitness classes, specifically designed for seniors.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec) Enjoying their Zumba Gold workout are (from left) Elaine Taylor; Holly Miller, Central Blair Center manager; Carole Lee, Maria Jimenez, Trudi Kane and Janie Kuhn.
To be qualified to lead the classes, Park took training offered by YogaFit International in Chambersburg and Zumba Gold in Reading last year.
"I have a background in dance and creative movement," said Park, who was a performer with Allied Motion, a former dance company at Penn State Altoona.
Yoga is a form of movement, she said, and Zumba is a way to have fun while getting an aerobic workout.
If you go
Yoga: 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday at the Central Blair Senior Center, 1320 12th Ave.
Zumba Gold: 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and Friday at the Central Blair Center.
The hourlong classes are $1 per session, but the fee is waived if a participant cannot afford it.
"It's not considered exercise," Park said of the Zumba Gold dance fitness program. "It's suppose to be a dance party."
Anyone 60 and older can enroll in the classes, and seniors say Zumba gives them energy while yoga helps with balance.
Kathy Moser, 70, of Altoona said she joined the Zumba Gold classes because she needed to exercise after suffering a stroke two years ago.
She originally tried regular a Zumba fitness program, but found the steps too vigorous for her health. During her first regular Zumba workout, she said had an angina attack.
"Zumba Gold is not as strenuous," Moser said. "I don't get any angina attacks, and I do it for a whole hour."
"You go at your own speed," said Elaine Taylor of Altoona.
In addition to Zumba Gold classes, Taylor walks two miles about four times a week and exercises at home.
"It's great," she said of the class. "It gives you a full body workout. I like the versatility and speed."
Dancers do a variety of movements to the Latin beat, and the music changes throughout the workout.
"It gives you a good feeling," Taylor said.
Janie Kuhn, 70, of Altoona admitted she did not know much about the dance when she came to class.
"I had no idea what it was even like," she said. Now, she enjoys Zumba Gold so much she is trying to organize a class at her church.
"I love learning the different steps and enjoy being with all the other women," she said.
"Jennifer is delightful," Kuhn said. "It's a lot of fun and good exercise."
Perhaps no one puts her heart into the dance more than Maria Jimenez, a native of Peru.
She said the music makes her think about her homeland.
"Jen is a great teacher," Jimenez said. "In my country we dance, but we don't learn all the steps.
Jimenez, 73, of Duncansville worked with children with learning disabilities in the Altoona Area School District before she retired.
"It's good for the mind," Jimenez said of Zumba Gold. "It's fun."
Jimenez also takes the yoga classes.
"Yoga is good for flexibility," she said. "It helps me with my balance, my posture."
Because adults who are 60 or older may not be as agile as they once were, the modified yoga exercises are done using a chair rather than sitting on the floor.
The class includes breathing awareness.
"Many folks mention how unaware they were of holding their breath and their endurance improved just by keeping regular breathing going during an activity," Park said.
She said about 15 seniors attend the sessions in Altoona and about one-third of the participants are men. Two of the participants are women in their 90s.
"Both are dedicated," Park said. "They can't say enough about how much the exercises are helping them."
Park said yoga has been known to benefit people suffering from arthritis or high blood pressure. The breathing exercises are calming and the movements are smooth which provides flexibility to joints and muscles, she said. It also improves mobility, balance and posture and strengthens and conditions the body.
The exercises can be a little strenuous, she said, but changes can be made.
"Like in Zumba Gold classes, I offer modifications for each pose depending on the ability of the participant," she said.
Zumba Gold has benefits, too.
"It increases endurance," Park said.
And everyone in both classes gets the added benefit of enjoying social time. Park said she chats with the participants and sometimes invites members of the class to pick the music.
"We once did yoga to '50s music," Park said.