It’s time to get active, seniors

By: Elizabeth Scussel, Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 26, 2015

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BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Exercise is important at every stage of life.

For seniors looking for a place to start, or a way to switch up their current workout regimen, one option worth exploring may be the local senior center.

Bloomfield Township Senior Services will offer Fitness Week from Aug. 31 through Sept. 4 for township residents to enjoy complimentary classes to see which fits best.

Seniors need about 30 minutes of exercise a day, according to Maggie Barclay, fitness coordinator at BTSS.

It doesn’t have to be strenuous, and it doesn’t have to be all at once either, she said.

“It can be 10 minutes in the morning, and another 10 in the afternoon and evening,” she said. “You can go on a bike ride, work in the garden or take a walk.”

And seniors shouldn’t let anxiety keep them from getting enough exercise, Barclay said.

“There’s this fear that comes from falling, or from not being able to do something,” she said. “But there’s also a reward from trying something and succeeding.”

Being active not only keeps the body and mind strong and healthy, but it can also ward off depression, and the opportunity to socialize with peers is just as important, Barclay said.

BTSS offers a myriad of fitness classes, including options for those with mobility issues and those using canes, walkers or wheelchairs.

Available classes include tai chi, Zumba, Barre Balance, Healthy Back, yoga and more. Adapted therapeutic classes are offered in the center’s 88-degree pool.

BTSS also offers a Dance for Parkinson’s class — which is specifically designed for those with Parkinson’s disease — that offers a mix of movements from modern and theater dance.

The class aims to enhance aesthetic awareness and grace while addressing PD-specific concerns such as balance, flexibility, coordination and gait.

All classes offer encouragement, Barclay said.

“In class, participants try to take themselves a step further and do more than they thought they could,” she said. “They finish and say, ‘Wow. I did that.’”

Barclay said that in six weeks’ time, a body will adapt to a specific exercise, which makes it imperative to constantly change up workouts.

Don’t be nervous, she said, and do what you like to do.

BTSS offers 50 different classes taught by 20 certified instructors, as well as small-group and one-on-one training.

“The instructors are really dedicated and passionate,” Barclay said. “They care about and are very invested in their students.”

Bloomfield Township Senior Services is located at 4315 Andover Road. For more information or class schedules, call (248) 723-3500.

Fitness class options are also plentiful at Birmingham’s senior center, Next.

“We’ve gone as traditional as possible with chair yoga, Age Busters and Limber Up, but now we’re going more nontraditional too — which, for this senior (population), is appropriate, given how healthy people are later in life now,” said Peter Mcfarlane, communications manager for Next.

New class additions at Next include barre stretching, mat yoga and potentially pilates in the future, according to Mcfarlane.

In the future, Mcfarlane said, they would like to add additional amenities like a bike rack or a bike safety/maintenance class.

Also, he said, the group Retirement Reimagined is having great success with its biking group —  which they’ve made available to Next members — and they’re adding a kayak group.

He also said a walkway is being installed to connect Next to the Seaholm High School track to offer members a level path alternative to neighborhood walking.

At Next, the social aspect of fitness ventures is as important as the physical benefits.

“We’ve seen more socializing among the fitness people than any other group,” Mcfarlane said. “They’re coming in to visit in the lobby before class, going out after class together and forming tight-knit bonds. I’ve never seen a place like this where all are welcomed with open arms.”

Birmingham Next is located at 2121 Midvale St. For more information or class schedules, call (248) 203-5270.

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