May 26, 2005

Keeping Fit Silver Sneakers Program Offers Low-Impact Exercise

GONZALES - As a medley of tunes played in the background, Sylvia Wells kept her white sneakers constantly moving at the YMCA at Lamar- Dixon Silver Sneakers exercise session.

The 68-year-old St. Amant great-grandmother said she was "real stiff and had trouble touching my toes" before she started the exercise program designed for people 65 and older.

"I usually try to come three times a week and spend a few extra hours after the session working out at the YMCA," Wells said. "This is a fun way to exercise."

Henry Sanchez, 65, said the class has helped him "limber up" since his knee operations.

Sanchez and Wells laughed as they tossed their rubber balls during one part of the class.

"I'm real glad when I catch the thing," Sanchez said.

The 45-minute, low-impact exercise program features giant rubber bands, brightly colored balls and energetic music for the participants, said program instructor Carole Grice, a certified YMCA group fitness trainer.

The local program is sponsored by Humana Health Insurance, Grice said.

"This program's goal is to provide fitness for people 65 and over so they can do everything in life they need to do and a lot of things they want to do," Grice said.

"Many in my class lead active lives. They dance, garden and run around with their grandchildren, and the class helps them stay in shape.

"Staying fit is important in their lives."

Grice said the program's social activities also aid in the overall health of her class participants.

Grice said people under the age of 65 who have disabilities also can take part in Silver Sneakers.

Retired librarian Earline Decouteau said the weekly exercise class is not only a fun way to your own age."

Sisters Clara Johnson, 71; Dolores Cannon, 67; and Joan Lee, 69; make the Silver Sneakers program a part of their weekly routine."We really don't miss much since we started," Johnson said.

Ida Grille, 80, said the program helps her "get around the way I want to. Because of Silver Sneakers, I can go whenever and where I want."

Most of the participants said they always wanted to exercise, but were not interested in joining a health club or exercising alone at home.

"I don't want to exercise alone. That's boring," said Anna Mae Plaisance of St. Gabriel.

Art Daigle, 79, said he and his wife Rita, 81, of Gonzales, "really love coming to this class."

"This is a fun way to stay fit and get refueled each week," Rita Daigle said.

The class is held at 11:15 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the YMCA.

For information, call the YMCA at (225) 647-9622.