Frequent physical activity is one of the most important things we can do for our health. It helps improve brain health, manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, and strengthen bones and muscles. By staying active as we age, we’re likely to retain our independence and the ability to perform activities of daily living for ourselves as we age.
There are many benefits to group fitness classes. By participating, you’re more likely to complete a well-rounded exercise routine and get a potentially more challenging work out. In class, an instructor can keep you motivated, ask you to “pick up the pace,” and help you move past a plateau – if you want to push yourself a little bit and improve.
Whitney Place at Sharon prioritizes the fitness of their Residents by scheduling weekly fitness classes that Residents of all fitness levels can participate in and enjoy. Read on to learn more about these weekly programs and how similar classes can help improve one’s quality of life as we age.
Tap Dance Classes
We know movement can help reduce stress and improve your health, but group fitness classes can scare away many, especially those who are older in age and would benefit from it most. Dance classes may not always look like an athletic activity, but they can be a great introduction to group classes overall.
Beth Calabrese, On the Barre Dance Studio Owner/Director and graduate student for her Master’s Degree in Dance/Movement Therapy from Lesley University, leads a weekly Tap Dance Class as a seated movement for Residents at Whitney Place at Sharon. Calabrese notes that the goal of these classes is not to break a sweat. She explains, “There are fitness benefits, but that’s not the goal. It’s a lot about rhythm, coordination, verbal, and nonverbal communication. It’s about exercising the mind-body connection, and music is the driving force behind making that connection.”
Studies show that music can enhance neuroplasticity in the brain; referring to the natural ability of our brain to adapt and grow. The music she chooses to play is very specific; Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Ella Fitzgerald, to name a few. She uses these classics to connect with the Residents, asking them whether they’ve ever seen the artist live, what their favorite songs are, and whether they know how to play an instrument. The class focuses on connection with each other and the mind and body.
And you don’t need past dance experience to participate. Many participants have never danced before, and some even like to sit back and simply listen to the music. The class focuses on seated movements, with taps that can be attached to a person’s sneaker or shoe. The hour-long movement class is a combination of free and structured movement. Calabrese says, “We did a Spring Showcase this year where the Residents were learning some routines every week, and we put on a show for their friends and families. It was a great turn out. We hope to do it again!”
Group Classes: Alternating Exercise Stations
Research shows that alternating between different exercises can greatly benefit your health, compared to sticking to one specific exercise routine. When sticking to one specific exercise routine over and over, you target the same muscles over and over. After a few weeks of repeating the same exercise, your body will stop responding, and your fitness may plateau. Maybe you’ll start to feel bored, burned out, or overtrain and injure a particular part of the body.
Exercise classes that alternate between different types of exercise often target many different muscles. In order to effectively improve strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance over time, one needs to change up their workouts, so the body continues to change and adapt.
If Whitney Place at Sharon Residents are looking for this type of fitness activity, they needn’t look far. Every Saturday, Kerry Paulhus, Yoga, Meditation, Tai Chi, and Wellness Coach, leads Residents in an exercise class where participants alternate between different exercises.
Sharon’s Director of Business Development, Allison Karsay, says, “Kerry’s fitness class has motivated and inspired our Residents to get healthy and stay healthy. Our weekends are better after our boot camp session with Kerry. As we say, you are never too old to go for the gold!”
Paulus hosts this Fitness Beginner Bootcamp every Saturday, from 10:00am – 12:00pm.
Cha Boom Cheer Fitness
Most recently, Whitney Place at Sharon has collaborated with Cheeretta Fitness Director, Lauretta Jennings to bring Chaboom seated fitness classes to their Residents. “Chaboom is uplifting choreographed cardio class, the music gets everyone moving along with our Chaboom instructors guiding the seniors through an easy-to-follow, great 50-minute class,” says Jennings.
The 50-minute program combines both upper and lower body exercises. Seated in a chair, seniors move to the rhythm of the music, dancing to favorites from yesterday and today – everything from Elvis, to Chumbawamba, and beyond. Seniors can sit and get fit at their own pace, trying any exercises they feel moved to try. Jennings shared the benefits of the class: cardiovascular, flexibility, mood, memory, hand-eye coordination, and better sleep. She also mentioned the benefits go far beyond physical health. The class provides socialization, joy, and entertainment for Residents.
When asked what she loves most about teaching, Jennings added, “I am truly blessed to do what I love for a living. Seeing seniors dance and smile makes me feel so much joy. It’s the best when they get [familiar] with a song by Pitbull or Bruno Marrs and ask me to play it. It’s fun to see them dance to some new songs. I love being a part of [their] lives and making them happy, but even better is in return how good I feel. One of the girls who works for me says [she] would do this for free. That’s how good it makes us feel.”
Whitney Place at Sharon understands that regular physical movement and exercise is one of the most important things Residents can do for their health to stay active as they age. Residents are more likely to retain their independence and the ability to perform activities of daily living at Whitney Place at Sharon, where whole-body fitness is the focus.