New Direction provides fitness options for the elderly

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New Direction Youth and Family Services is helping expand fitness and wellness options for senior citizens in local communities with its Aging and Wellness Program.

The program includes workshops that take place in community areas such as senior centers and parks and recreation centers rather than gyms.

“A lot of people are intimidated by the gym world,” said program director Pamela Williams. “So by going into the community, it offers a location that people are more familiar and more comfortable with.”

There’s a wide variety of classes the program will offer: yoga, balancing and strengthening, walking club, line dancing and even water aerobics.

“We want to offer our seniors as many options as possible,” Williams said. “The more people we can get involved, the better.”

The main emphasis of the programs is to keep senior citizens active in local communities. Erwin Parks and Recreation director Doug Stevens said he thinks the program will provide a much-needed service.

“We’ve had trouble getting seniors out and active,” Stevens said. “We have this nice facility at the park, it’s warm during the winter and cool during the summer. And there’s senior citizens in this area who need this program to stay active, get the blood circulating and stay healthy, stay out of the hospitals and rest homes.”

Katie Reynolds is an experienced fitness professional with backgrounds in all levels of physical fitness, from Pop Warner to pros, and will be one of the instructors. She stressed the importance that seniors understand that classes are adaptable to people of all different kinds of capabilities.

“Everyone starts in a different place,” Reynolds said. “What matters is that they’re staying active. We’re not here to shame anyone or push them beyond what they’re capable ­— we’re here to help people.”

Reynolds also talked about the psychological benefits that the program could offer.

“Not only is keeping healthy and moving important for this population, but it’s important for them to be able to socialize, to go out and see people and have somewhere to go,” Reynolds said. “It’s good for them to have motivation and maybe even set some goals, something that gets them out of the house. That’s what they need more than anything, and fitness is just an avenue for that.”

These classes will be free for those who are members of the SilverSneakers program. Members can attend these classes in conjunction with going to the gym. For those who don’t meet the requirements for the SilverSneakers membership but want to participate, they may pay a $5 fee to attend each individual class — much less than the average gym membership.

Below is a schedule for the Aging and Wellness Program workshops. If interested in a class, contact the sites or the New Direction office at 910-502-3388. New Direction will have to check if you are eligible before you can start the class as a SilverSneaker participant, even if you already have a card.

Mondays

Yoga, Coats Senior Citizen Center, 6-7 p.m. (starts June 10)

Tuesdays

Balancing and Strengthening, Erwin Parks and Recreation Center, 9-10 a.m. (starts June 4)

Balancing and Strengthening, Private Facility, 1-2 p.m.

Wednesdays

Yoga, Coats Senior Citizen Center, 10-11 a.m. (starts June 5)

Balancing and Strengthening, Fuquay-Varina Parks and Recreation Center, 10-11 a.m. (starts June 19)

Line Dancing, Private Facility, 1-2 p.m.

Balancing and Strengthening, Coats Senior Citizen Center, 1-2 p.m. (starts June 5)

Thursdays

Walking Club, Fuquay-Varina Parks and Recreation Center, 8:30-9:30 a.m. (starts June 20)

Balancing and Strengthening, Private Facility, 1-2 p.m.

Fridays

Line Dancing, Johnsonville Senior Center, 10-11 a.m. (already started)

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